Middle Housing Program

This page has two parts:  "Grant Program" and "Technical Support"

1. Grant Program

The Middle Housing Grant Program provides technical support (see section below) and grant funds to help eligible cities (currently, those within Snohomish, King, Pierce, and Kitsap counties) take actions toward allowing middle housing types on at least 30% of existing single family-zoned lots.  Local actions under the grant may include (but are not limited to):

  • Data gathering/analysis and GIS work
  • Other research related to middle housing
  • Community outreach
  • Analysis of racially disparate impacts, displacement, and exclusion in housing
  • Analysis of barriers to middle housing production
  • Analysis of potential gaps/needs in current plans or regulations
  • Drafting of anti-displacement policies or approaches *
  • Development of performance measures
  • Drafting of local policies and development regulations to help achieve middle housing. *

The funding comes from a state budget proviso aimed at helping those cities that have 2024 due dates under the Growth Management Act for their periodic review and, as needed, amendments to their comprehensive plans and development regulations.  (Currently, this applies to cities within King, Snohomish, Pierce, and Kitsap counties.)  The GMA review process must consider policies and implementation steps to meet a variety of housing needs, including for middle housing types.  In the state budget proviso, "middle housing types" are defined to include duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, fiveplexes, sixplexes, townhouses, courtyard apartments, cottage housing, and stacked flats.

* Note:  While draft ordinances are expected as part of the scopes of work, final actions on such ordinances are not required by the end of the grant period (June 30, 2023) but may be considered later.

Base-level Middle Housing grants funds are awarded to reflect population as follows:

  • Cities under 10,000 population:  $60,000
  • Cities between 10,000 and 20,000 population:  $75,000
  • Cities over 20,000 population:  $100,000

Cities may apply for additional funding, beyond the base amount above, to provide to community-based organizations (especially those that are typically under-represented in the planning process) or to meet other specific needs.   Also, new information:  If needed to accomplish key tasks, cites may seek a contract amendment that results in greater amounts than previously established.  (Greater amounts requested may be approved at Commerce's sole discretion.) The grant contracts are performance-based, so funds are provided at key steps of the project, based on deliverables.  The work needed for the local project may be accomplished by City staff and/or hired consultants.

Each city must use a racial equity analysis and provide for anti-displacement policies as required under RCW 36.70A.070(2)(e) through (h) to avoid displacement of very low, low or moderate-income households, as defined in RCW 43.63A.510, or individuals from racial, ethnic and religious communities that have been subject to discriminatory housing policies in the past.  Commerce will provide guidance and technical assistance for this work.

Instructions and applications for the Grant Program are available on the GMS Grant's Page linked here.  The funds are currently available only through the end of June, 2023, so jurisdictions must move quickly to contract for (or amend their contract amounts) and expend their Middle Housing grants.

2. Technical Support

Based on feedback from city and county representatives, Commerce hired a three-person team of experienced professional to provide technical support toward inclusion of of middle housing in single-family zoning and related work by providing opportunities for:

  • Peer meetings with participating city representatives and Commerce staff to share information and bring up questions;
  • Information and guidance on a racial equity analysis and anti-displacement policies;
  • Considering results of a statewide housing issues survey, sponsored by Commerce and the Puget Sound Regional Council;
  • Viewing a new dedicated "Middle Housing" webpage with hyperlinks to useful resources;
  • Photo library;
  • Examples of middle housing work from other jurisdictions;
  • Providing input on a toolkit that may be considered by jurisdictions for development and design of middle housing;
  • Design packages, with definitions, graphics, and a menu of development/design standards (being developed by a well-known firm, Opticos, under contract with Commerce), which a city may choose to use in whole or part;
  • Pro formas for different middle housing types (to be developed by an experienced firm for Commerce, using the latest regional knowledge of construction costs);
  • Informational materials, including Powerpoint slides and a series of topical videos, for optional use in city presentations;
  • Suggestions and examples for community engagement strategies;
  • Data gathering assistance;
  • Draft "staff report" templates for key middle housing topics, which cities can choose to use or adapt;
  • Having a member of the Commerce's Middle Housing Technical Team co-present information or respond to questions at meetings of the city council or planning commission;
  • Direct communication with a Middle Housing Technical Team member for technical assistance or dialogue;
  • Other information to encourage a greater variety of housing and an increase in middle housing production.

Commerce provides additional technical assistance on a range of housing topics, including: racially disparate impacts, displacement, exclusion, and future housing needs.

Documents, resources, and examples have been provided in several folders connected to this webpage.  Folder information will be updated periodically.



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