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Understanding Affordable Housing

To sustain Poulsbo’s livability and economic vitality, the city is working on multiple fronts to maintain and improve housing affordability. Through its plans and policies, the city pursues opportunities to:

  • Expand the overall housing supply and variety
  • Maintain and increase affordable housing
  • Attend to the special housing needs of individuals
  • Promote walkable, sustainable neighborhoods.

Poulsbo’s Comprehensive Plan sets the vision for how the city develops and grows over the next 20 years . As the city’s supply of developable land diminishes, the city must explore creative methods to increase housing opportunities while protecting existing neighborhoods and the environment. The plan’s Housing Element supports innovative methods to achieve housing goals.

This page is intended to help you understand what affordable housing is and what is going on in the city regarding affordable housing.

What is "Affordable Housing" ?

Affordable housing is commonly defined in terms of housing costs as a percentage of household income. Housing is considered unaffordable when a household’s monthly housing costs exceed a 30 percent of gross income, thereby reducing the budget available for other basic necessities and amenities. For households with lower incomes, high housing costs often mean they must make a choice between paying for housing or getting other life necessities like food or medications.

The City of Poulsbo defines affordable housing as “housing with a sales price or rental amount within the means of a household that may occupy low-income housing. The price of affordable units is based on that amount a household can afford to pay for housing, when household income is less than eighty percent of the median annual income, adjusted for household size, as determined by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development for Kitsap County; and when the household pays no more than thirty percent of household income for housing expenses”.

The City’s Role in Housing

While the City of Poulsbo does not build or provide housing to residents, it can facilitate the conditions to encourage the housing developers to build housing in a diversity of formats and affordability levels. Housing planning and policymaking are integral functions of cities, and essential for supporting inclusive, diverse, and economically vibrant communities. Reviewing, evaluating, and updating housing plans, policies, and associated development regulations can help jurisdictions meet evolving community needs for housing variety and affordability, as well as achieve other planning goals for land use, economic development, transportation, and the environment.

There are four ways in which Poulsbo can influence the housing market.

  • The city can adopt and update development regulations such as zoning and design standards to either limit or facilitate the types of new housing that can be built by private and nonprofit housing developers in different parts of the city. These regulations also determine characteristics such as building heights, setbacks, parking, and design.
  • The city can utilize and update development incentives to encourage the construction of housing types that are in greatest need. Incentives may include tax exemptions, density bonuses, alternative design standards, fee reductions, or streamlined permitting. Incentives can affect the profitability of new housing development and therefore the likelihood that private developers will choose to build. They can also affect the financial feasibility of projects with income-qualified affordable housing.
  • The city can provide financial assistance to affordable housing providers through direct funding, fee waivers, or land donations to help subsidize new or existing income-qualified affordable housing projects.
  • The city can partner with providers, non-profit organizations and faith-based to find housing solutions.

Housing affordability (or lack thereof) is a big issue in the region. There are many reasons why housing has become so expensive, and cities can only address certain aspects of the problem. While the City could reduce fees for certain housing types, consider additional areas to allow for higher density housing, or provide more options for senior housing, they do not control fluctuating economic costs such as labor shortages or the rising cost of lumber, for example.

Affordable Housing in Poulsbo

Affordable Housing Units in Poulsbo:

Total of approximately 349 units managed either by Housing Kitsap or are federally subsidized (e.g. vouchers, HUD, tax credits)

  • Austerbruin
    • 32, 1 – 4-bedroom units (final unit count to be determined by Housing Kitsap)
    • All utilities included
    • Part of a collection of single-family homes and apartments funded through Public housing Program
    • Managed by Housing Kitsap
  • Fjord Manor Apartments
    • 38, 1 – 2-bedroom units; some are wheelchair adapted
    • For residents at or below 50% AMI and 62+ or disabled,
    • All utilities included
    • Amenities: central laundry, parking, and community room
    • Downtown Poulsbo, adjacent to the Poulsbo Community Center (19581 1st Ave)
    • Managed by Housing Kitsap
  • Fjord Vista II
    • 16, 2 – 3-bedroom units
    • For residents at or below 50% AMI
    • All utilities included
    • Amenities: central laundry, parking, and playground area
    • Near downtown Poulsbo, adjacent to the Poulsbo Community Center (19581 1st Ave)
    • Managed by Housing Kitsap
  • Hostmark of Village Cove Apartments
    • 120, 1 – 2-bedroom units
    • For residents 62+ or disabled
    • Amenities: central laundry, business center, fitness center, community room and garden area
    • Minutes from 305 and across from Gateway Fellowship Church (703 NE Hostmark St.)
    • Managed by Allied Residential
  • Kitsap Homes of Compassion
    • Leased units of affordable long-term housing for seniors, homeless or soon to be homeless with no pets or addiction issues; participants must have a steady income
    • 99% of gross revenue goes to actual program costs; program is 100% fully funded by the rent the participants pay once the house is fully occupied
    • Staffordshire House
      • 6 units for low-income mothers and children
      • Residents receive rent subsidies on a temporary basis
    • Liberty Ridge Apartments for Men and Liberty Ridge Apartments for Women (Kitsap Homes of Compassion)
      • Total of 6 units of shared housing
    • Morrow Manor
      • 8 units for long-term supportive housing for domestic violence survivors
      • Support services provided by YWCA Kitsap County
    • Nelson House
      • 5 beds for women, ages 18-25
      • Rent in exchange for park maintenance
      • Located at Nelson Park
      • Managed by Coffee Oasis
    • Windsong Apartments
      • 36, 1 – 2-bedroom units
      • For residents at or below 50% AMI
      • All utilities included
      • Amenities: central laundry and parking
      • Adjacent to Nelson Park, (19880 3rd NW)
      • Managed by Housing Kitsap
    • Winton Woods Apartments
      • 82, 1 – 3-bedroom units
      • Amenities: basketball court, parking, playground
      • Adjacent to Regal Poulsbo Movie Theater (243 Winton Lane NW)
      • Managed by TAM Residential
Affordable Housing Units Coming to Poulsbo:
  • Proposed: Nordic Cottages
    • 8, 1-bedroom units (final count to be determined in future review)
    • 609 NE Lincoln Rd., The Triangle Property; adjacent to Gateway Fellowship
    • Housing Kitsap will aid in design and managing the property
    • Utility Connection Fees Waived: Resolution No. 2022-14
Affordable Housing Strategies Already in Place:
  • 0073% Sales Tax Sharing Program (RCW 82.14.540 / SHB 1406 (2019); Poulsbo Ordinance 2019-15; PMC 3.22.010)
    • Sales tax sharing program that allows cities to impose a sales tax and access part of that sales tax revenue to invest into affordable housing by acquiring, rehabilitating, or constructing affordable housing, including building or rehabilitating units within existing structures or building facilities that provide supportive housing services
  • 1% Sales Tax Increase (RCW 82.14.530, ESHB 1070; Poulsbo Ordinance 2021-07; PMC 3.23)
    • 1% sales tax increase (starting 01/01/2022) for affordable housing and services for most vulnerable individuals whose income is at or below 60% AMI (e.g. mentally ill, elderly, veterans, domestic violence survivors, foster and homeless youth)
  • ADU’s (PMC 18.70.070.A)
    • Maximum of 800 sq. ft
    • Primary residence must be occupied by an owner
    • ADU must be consistent in design and appearance with primary structure
  • Affordable Low Income Housing Density Bonus Incentives (PMC 18.70.070.B)
    • For any development that includes at least 10% as affordable for low-income ownership or rental housing; Project must have 5+ units
    • Density bonus of 20% will be awarded for 10% units designated as affordable
    • Density bonus of 25% will be awarded for 15% units designated as affordable
    • All units regardless of affordability should be similar size and scale
    • Units must be affordable for 20 years
  • Allocation of City Property for Affordable Housing (Resolution No. 2020-20)
    • Resolution to allocate city-owned property at 609 NE Lincoln (future site of Nordic Cottages) and in the Klingle Natural Area for affordable housing
  • Cottage Housing  (PMC 18.70.070.I)
    • Cottage clusters should have 3-13 units per cluster; more than 1 cluster is permitted
    • Parking, open space, and private space requirements
    • Is considered a planned residential development in RL zoning
    • Is considered a subdivision, short plat, PRD or condominium community in RM and RH zoning
  • Emergency Rental Assistance (10/2021)
    • Up to $7,000 of city funds for emergency rental assistance
    • For people at or below 60% of AMI who receive a fixed income and are significantly impacted by recent rent increases
    • Fishline Comprehensive Services processes the applications, determines eligibility and distributes funds
  • Exceptions for Housing Authorities (PMC 18.310.050)
    • City can “establish such exceptions to building, housing and development codes as the city council deems appropriate…for the development of low-income housing”
    • Created to “provide clear criteria for the review of such applications and to provide for adequate public input.
  • Municipal Contributions to Affordable Housing Programs
    • Nelson House
      • Use of property and free rent is provided in exchange for maintenance of Nelson Park
      • Managed by Coffee Oasis
    • Coffee Oasis
      • Below market rent is provided
    • Kitsap Homes of Compassion
      • $6,000 annual financial support to be used for Poulsbo properties: Staffordshire House and Liberty Ridge
      • Evenly split between $3,000 for operations costs and $3,000 for rental assistance
Affordable Housing Strategies Already in Place (HAP):

In 2019, the Planning and Economic Development Department received a $40,000 Housing Action Plan grant from the Washington State Department of Commerce to complete a Housing Needs Assessment (HNA) and Housing Action Plan (HAP). These funds supported the creation of Poulsbo’s HAP; Poulsbo City Council adopted the subsequent Housing Action Plan (HAP) December 2021.

Affordable Housing Strategies In the Works:

In 2022, the Planning and Economic Development Department received a $75,000 Housing Action Plan Implementation grant from the Washington State Department of Commerce to begin implementation of HAP objectives and strategies. Work will be completed by June 2023. Listed below are Strategy and Recommended Actions approved within the HAP and their correlating Actions within the HAPI grant.

Resources and Information

Religious Properties White Paper – A state mandate to allow for an increasing Affordable Housing capacity on Religious owned properties, created in 2022.

Housing Needs Assessment – A paper studying housing needs in Poulsbo, created in 2021.

Housing Action Plan – An action plan to aid in housing the community, created in 2021.

Comprehensive Plan – A holistic plan for the future of Poulsbo that is updated periodically, updated in 2016 and in process to be updated again in 2024.

Accessory Dwelling Units – A comprehensive page on ADU’s that can be a useful housing opportunity.

Contact the Planning and Economic Development Department at 360-394-9882 or plan&