Housing report

Annual Lakewood Housing Report examines market strengths and challenges – The Suburban Times

Town of Lakewood announcement.

As the region grows and costs rise, the report reveals that there are “no easy solutions” to meet demand and contain costs.

Lakewood, Wash. – The Town of Lakewood released its Housing Report 2021 in February, offering a detailed examination of housing market forces. Housing is scarce and the area continues to grow. We need more housing, but it is increasingly difficult to build.

Soaring material costs (+188% since the start of the pandemic) have added more than $24,000 to the cost of building a single-family home. New developments are subject to new green building requirements, adding cost, time and administrative burden. Tiny houses are being built at only 20% of the rate at which they were built in the 1970s.

“As of January 2022, 928,200 people lived in the Tacoma-Lakewood metro area. By 2050, nearly one and a quarter million people will live in Pierce County, which is the equivalent of adding another city the size of Tacoma. This growth is one of the reasons housing prices have risen three times faster than incomes since 2010.”
Dave Bugher, Deputy City Manager, Town of Lakewood

Lakewood felt those pressures acutely. The rental vacancy rate is just 2.7%, well below Pierce & King County averages. Lakewood’s owner-occupied housing rate is 43.4 percent, about 20 percent lower than the state and county average. Lakewood’s poverty and eviction rates are higher than most of Washington. The average rent increased by 20% between July 2020 and January 2022.

Edward Jones - Bart Dalton

According to the report, there is no “easy” solution. Complex construction requirements, material costs, timber shortages, tree preservation, and water and sewer deficiencies may continue to hinder development.

There are solutions. Developers can turn to alternative materials like concrete to build new units. Lakewood’s Rental Housing Safety and Dangerous & Nuisance Abatement programs preserve existing structures and prevent neglect. Subsidies, tax incentives, special districts and other mechanisms have been effective in attracting development. The report will inform the efforts of City Council, the Planning Commission and Lakewood staff to establish policy, zoning, code, plans and incentives that can help match growing demand with corresponding supply.

A new roof is installed on a rental unit near the Lakewood International District. Repairing housing and preserving existing housing are priorities in plans to deal with rising costs.
Charles Wright Academy