Analysis | February 5, 2020

Partnerships Key to Tackling Housing Shortage

Written by Kathleen Sims

Reading time: 5 minutes

With more than 2,700 member companies, the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties (MBAKS) is proud to represent those who have helped build homes of all shapes and sizes across our region for more than a century. That includes everything from apartments, condos, and townhomes to accessory dwelling units and single-family homes. Building homes is what our members do, and we offer their expertise and perspective in the Puget Sound region’s housing discussion.

The challenge of providing enough homes for our growing region is very complex. Our region is quickly changing, and our communities need to think differently about housing and how we work together to advance the solutions we need. This is critically important because the problem is too big for any one person, group, or organization to solve.

The Puget Sound Regional Council estimates our four-county region (King, Snohomish, Pierce and Kitsap counties) will add 1.8 million more people by 2050. In the span of just 30 years, we will welcome the equivalent of 2.5 more Seattles to our home. People who have lived here for decades and those who are just now arriving share the same fear: being priced out as our region grows.

Despite efforts to create more housing, demand continues to significantly outpace supply. To attract and retain quality workers, businesses need an adequate supply of diverse housing options nearby. With very few affordable options, many workers are forced to commute long distances, with adverse effects on their lives and the environment.

So how do we think bigger, work more strategically, and engage more effectively on housing issues? We believe that partnering with people and organizations with diverse perspectives and understanding their points of view are critical to tackling this very complex challenge. Given that housing issues are persistently frontpage news, the scale of the current housing shortage, and the knowledge that rapid growth will continue, it’s clear that collective, regional action is necessary.

That is why MBAKS is proud to partner with Up for Growth. By creating a forum for its diverse members to come together and help educate the public and policymakers on the issues at the state and federal levels, Up for Growth is laying important groundwork in advancing solutions to our shortage of housing.

We see the importance of partnerships at the local and regional scale as well. Last year, MBAKS convened a series of housing roundtables that included a diverse group of business and community members, elected officials and other stakeholders to discuss housing solutions. Throughout this engagement, I was humbled by the dedication of so many leaders who are working to confront the housing crisis head on.

Roundtable participants came from different backgrounds and perspectives, but they all understand the need to treat housing more like education, transportation, and other regional issues of significance. They agree that we need urgent action to enact policies to create more housing options, improve the lives of current residents, and provide housing choices for future generations. They understand that access to affordable housing—located close to jobs, transit, schools, and amenities—can greatly enhance a community’s quality of life.  These are values shared by Up for Growth members as well, and we welcome the opportunity to lend our voice to this important effort.

Working together, we can be far more effective than working alone. A comprehensive and collaborative approach to housing is necessary if we’re to progress toward creating a more affordable future for all. The homebuilding community stands ready to lock arms with the larger community to overcome housing challenges and play our role in solving the housing crisis.

Kat Sims is the executive director of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties.