Over the summer, the non-profit group Our Valley Our Future asked people around here to describe their housing experiences. The survey was 35 questions long, which means respondents had to take some time, really commit to the thing. And yet, more than 1,700 people did respond. The survey results, released this week, paint a stark picture: The housing shortage in the Wenatchee Valley is getting much worse, affecting all sectors of the economy — from would-be renters and first-time home buyers to Realtors, builders and bankers. The median home value in the Wenatchee area is 76.1 percent higher than in Yakima, 50.4 percent higher than in Spokane. And that lack of affordable housing is hurting employers’ ability to recruit the talent they need.
More than 600 respondents included their personal stories along with their survey responses. Here are a few examples, which represent the concerns of many more:
“I recently relocated to Wenatchee and am considering leaving again due to the lack of housing. The only available housing is one- to two bedrooms at ridiculous prices for run-down, poor conditions. Most houses sell the same day they are listed. Most apartments have waiting lists. It’s costly to apply for all of them, pay waiting-list fees, just to be declined.”
“I work for the medical center. We have had difficulty placing students we bring in due to housing, and difficulty hiring nurses due to the lack of housing. We have lost several job candidates due to the lack of housing. This hurts our community when a hospital has vacant positions and must divert crisis patients to Seattle due to lack of staffing.”
“As a teacher at a school hovering at 90 percent poverty, I see the impact that lack of safe, adequate, and affordable housing has on students and their families. Students’ families are forced to move from school to school/district to district because of these problems. It takes an incredible toll on children emotionally and academically.”
“My business is hampered in hiring. We hire the gamut — from those just starting in a position to salaried, well-paid professionals. All are having challenges finding the housing they need. External candidates are very surprised to see our cost of housing and dearth of rentals. On a personal note, there is nowhere to downsize to. We lack creative infill for those seeking the core and we lack smaller homes of a different style. Over 55 active living communities and cottage living will be sorely needed.”
“Our town of Leavenworth has been hit really hard by the overnight commercial home renting craze. Homes and apartments that were always available for our ‘worker bees’ have been converted to the overnight market — many illegally for the past 10 years now.”
“I am not interested in staying in the area if the costs keep increasing. You will see an exodus of citizens. You will continue to have a high need for professionals whose jobs cannot be filled due to the high cost of living.”
“I fear that much of this area will end up becoming a breakfast community for Puget Sound and locals that work here will not be able to afford to buy homes.”
“I am a single mom and to rent anything that is a three-bedroom takes over one of my two paychecks for the month. I use to be able to afford rent. Now, even with having a good job and a college education, I struggle.”
“I am being forced to move due to not being able to afford the outrageous rent of $900 a month for a mother-in-law studio apartment above a garage. I only took it initially because they accepted my dog. I won’t be staying in the valley anymore.”
“We moved from Seattle after selling our home. We grew up in the valley and came back to have kids and be closer to family. We found that while we have a good income for this area ($85,000 to $120,000) that finding a reasonably priced home is very difficult. We are currently in a rental … but have considered moving out of the area to find single-family homes that are priced more in-line with median incomes.”
“This valley makes it way too hard to make it.”
Kelli Scott’s column appears Wednesday through Friday. Reach her at (509) 661-5205 or kscottwenatcheeworld.com.