The City of Kent is requesting community feedback after drafting a housing report to identify future housing needs and challenges.
Data used in the Kent Housing Options Plan indicates that the population of Kent grew at twice the rate of South King County as a subregion with a 39 percent increase between 2010 and 2018.
Further analysis in the report estimates the city will need 5,999 units of housing by the year 2040. For reference, 2,759 units have been built since 2011, according to the report.
The report also raises concerns of housing affordability and the disproportionate cost burdens that could be placed on those making less than 50 percent of the median income of the area.
Over the last 10 years, the city has seen a 58 percent increase in the average rent of a 2-bedroom apartment and a 88 percent increase in the median home sales price.
Conversely, the median renter household income increased by 25 percent between 2012 and 2018, and median owner household income only increased by 11 percent during the same timeframe.
“Housing costs in South King County are quickly outpacing outcomes,” the report reads. “Resulting in high cost burdening amongst lower-income earners.”
It also emphasized that households of color are more likely to spend a larger portion of their total income on housing costs.
The plan claims there is a need for the city to increase not only the volume of housing, but also a need to diversify the available housing options.
The report pointed out that less than 5 percent of all housing stock in the subregion are condos, the lowest in South King County. Kent also has far fewer studio-apartments and single-person housing options than the rest of King County.
Uniquely, the report claimed that the city’s largest need for housing will be among homes for those earning more than 100 percent of the area median income, an increase “even greater than King County as a whole.”
However, the city expressed reluctance and caution as to how to approach this issue for concerns of influencing the market and potentially displacing residents who earn less than 30 percent of the area median income.
The report claimed that without “proactive planning,” the risks of physical, economic, or cultural displacement are significant and fall “particularly hard” on East Hill residents.
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