Recently I advertised a home for rent that my husband and I purchased 10 years ago as a retirement investment. Within three hours of advertising, I had turned off my phone and pulled down the listing, having received over 50 inquiries via phone, text, and email. People shared their stories, advocated for themselves as amazing tenants, and offered to pay higher rent or sign multi-year leases. These are signs of a severely limited housing supply and a broken system.
Olympia’s lack of available housing creates an environment where rents continue to increase until more supply is available. We need more inventory to meet the demand caused by population growth, or costs will reach higher levels of unaffordability. We need a variety of housing options that will accommodate a variety of income levels. A quick search on Craigslist will reveal that a duplex or accessory dwelling unit (if you can find one) rents for much cheaper than a single-family home. Our current exclusionary zoning limits our ability to build this diverse housing.
We need to start creating forward-looking solutions, from a variety of angles. Missing Middle housing is one piece of the puzzle, as indicated in the city’s Comprehensive Plan. It allows local people to take action and be part of the solution, whether it be building an accessory dwelling unit in a backyard or a duplex on a vacant lot next door. These are small, feasible, neighborhood-scale changes to existing code that can begin to make a difference now.