Housing and Homelessness in our Community

For visitors to the Next Step Community Resource Drop-In Center, the top four requests for help, assistance, and research are:

  • Housing Options and Applications
  • Rental or Mortgage Issues
  • Shelter Options
  • Assistance with Utilities payments

Housing concerns combined represent more than ten times the number of requests we receive for help in searching and applying for jobs or any other concerns.

Housing affordability, in general, is a measure of a housing unit’s cost relative to a household’s income. A household (rental or with mortgage) is “burdened” when it spends 30 percent or more of its gross income on housing costs.

Nationally an estimated 12 million renters and homeowners now pay over 50 percent of their annual incomes for housing. The lack of affordable housing is a major hardship for many low-to-moderate income households preventing them from meeting their other basic needs such as food and healthcare for their families. The slightest upset or emergency…a broken down car, a broken bone…can, and often does, force working families into homelessness.

According to a 2014 study published by the National Low Income Housing Coalition… 

Washington State is one of thirteen states that have fewer than the national level of 16 affordable and available units per 100 households at or below the “extremely low income” thresholds.

In Snohomish County, 106,600 households (rental and those with mortgages) pay more than 30% of their income for rent or mortgages – 47% of all households!

In Monroe...


rental units are available


of those units are affordable to an individual working full time at minimum wage


the number of subsidized rental units available for families in Monroe


is the affordable rent for an individual working full time at minimum wage


is the monthly rent for a two bedroom apartment in Morning Run


of renter households pay more than 30% of their income in rent


the number of affordable housing units forecast as needed by the City of Monroe


the number of visits to the Next Step Drop-In Center by 158 different homeless individuals in the summer of 2015 – 54% of our visitors were homeless

Federal and local assistance is available for families earning less than 50% of the Area Median Income ($69,000 for Monroe households) in the form of Section 8 housing vouchers. With Section 8 vouchers, participants will pay 30% of their household income as rent. They may be required to provide the landlord with a deposit which for many is an insurmountable obstacle. In certain situations, the Next Step partners with Salvation Army and other organizations to assist families.

On December 13, 2013, the Housing Authority of Snohomish County closed its wait lists for Section 8 housing assistance due to the long wait for housing assistance.

One month later, the Everett Herald reported; “the Housing Authority of Snohomish County informed 500 households that their subsidies would run out…because of Congressional dysfunction. Many of those families were homeless or about to become homeless when they started the program. Sixty percent are employed; many are single mothers.” 

The Housing Authority's website currently tells applicants:

For the Section 8 Waiting List, we are currently drawing off the Sequence Date of 10/09/08.


Seven years to wait for affordable housing…

The City of Monroe has ordinances, policies, and planning goals in place to address affordable housing and homelessness in a number of areas:

  • Affordable housing incentives in the municipal code provide developers with incentives to create housing that will be affordable to lower income families
  • Accessory Dwelling Units (backyard cottages) are encouraged in conjunction with single family dwellings
  • Temporary Tent Encampments may be permitted when sponsored and managed by a local church or other local, community-based organization

What's your next step?

Though the lack of affordable housing impacts more than half of those living in Monroe, the Next Step’s focus is on the very low income. Here are several excellent resources to help us understand some of the issues and options surrounding affordable housing and homelessness:


Tent City Urbanism by Andrew Heben
At Home on the Street by Jason Wasserman and Jeffrey Clair


Square One Villages, Eugene http://www.squareonevillages.org/
Quixote Village, Olympia http://quixotevillage.com/

Get Involved!


In Washington State, only 16 of 100 rental units are affordable and available to renter households with Deeply Low Income (15% of Area Median Income - $10,200 per year in Snohomish County). Source: National Low Income Housing Alliance: Housing Spotlight, August, 2014 http://nlihc.org/sites/default/files/HS_4-1.pdf

City of Monroe Comprehensive Plan – Draft, October, 2015: http://monroewa.gov/DocumentCenter/View/3442

County Forced to Cut Back on Section 8 Vouchers, Everett Herald, January 24, 2014: http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20140124/NEWS01/140129498

As noted on the Housing Authority of Snohomish County website: http://www.hasco.org/housing_assistance/rent/apply_for_housing5Monroe Municipal Code Title 18: http://www.codepublishing.com/WA/Monroe/

Additional information for this article provided by the 2014 Housing Characteristics and Needs in Snohomish County report: ftp://ftp.snoco.org/planning_and_Development_services/Housing/Final-Steering-Committee-Draft-under%20construction-1-9-2014.pdf