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Innovative 'Land Bank' Could Bring More Affordable Housing to WA

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Wednesday, August 10, 2022   

Washingtonians are feeling the squeeze from high housing prices, but a novel concept launching in Spokane could speed up the creation of affordable housing.

The Spokane Low Income Housing Consortium (SLIHC) is creating a land bank to acquire land and set it aside for affordable housing. The land bank was launched in part with a $45,000 grant from the GoWest Foundation, which works with credit unions in the West.

Ezra Eckhardt, president of STCU, formerly the Spokane Teachers Credit Union, which is part of the land-bank effort, explained the program's goals.

"SLIHC would be the centerpiece of a clearinghouse to acquire both public and private land, with the specific intent of building affordable housing and workforce housing to support the needs of the community," Eckhardt stated.

Eckhardt pointed out the land bank, as a nonprofit organization, can acquire surplus property at discounted values more easily than individuals.

The completion of the North Spokane Corridor in the next five years is expected to free up parcels of land for affordable housing. Eckhardt argued it is also important to construct high-density housing outside of highway corridors, where it is typically located.

"We want to take a mindful eye on how the projects themselves are sourced and located using the concept of the land bank to tap into all of the available surplus land that is located here in our community," Eckhardt emphasized.

Even so, Eckhardt noted the region still is years away from fixing its housing woes.

"The land bank is a good, innovative idea," Eckhardt stressed. "We look forward to finding other ideas to be able to support that, and accelerate the timeline on the construction projects."


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