Northwest Credit Union Foundation now Accepting Applications for Affordable Workforce Housing Grants

As the Northwest continues to grow and diversify, residents across the region are facing a significant hurdle – affordable workforce housing. Credit unions are keenly aware of the problem within their communities and are finding ways to address it.

To assist in addressing this pressing problem, the Northwest Credit Union Foundation (NWCUF) is introducing an Affordable Workforce Housing planning grant. This opportunity will help credit unions in the region make direct impacts on the lives of the members they serve and their communities.

The first round of grants are approximately $20,000 each and will be awarded at the end of September. A request for proposals is available online for Northwest Credit Union Association member credit unions to fill out, along with more information about the grants.

The grants will focus on planning, providing a unique funding opportunity for researching and developing a project that will be implemented after completion of the grant period.

“Credit unions are uniquely positioned to think creatively and leverage resources to help address this critical issue,” said Sharee Adkins, Executive Director of NWCUF. “Whether it’s single-family homes in rural Eastern Idaho, or large apartment buildings in Seattle, one thing remains abundantly clear: our credit unions want to step up and achieve measurable impact for our members and our community in the space of affordable housing.”

Northwest credit unions understand their communities and are adept at finding ways to solve this challenge. With the current state of housing affordability, credit unions are poised to partner with local government, nonprofits, and each other to develop innovative solutions that can be scaled or replicated to help communities across the region.

“We are so inspired by credit unions’ commitment to addressing this critical issue in communities across Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. When credit unions come together to make their communities a better place, the entire region will see lasting benefits,” Adkins said.

NWCUF grants will help credit unions zero in on the challenges, which are distinctively different from one community to the next.

Diverse economies are creating unique challenges

Communities across the Northwest thrive on a variety of economic strengths, from tech, to agriculture, tourism, and manufacturing. With that diversity – combined with a growing population – comes a variety of housing challenges.

The affordable workforce housing population – professionals like teachers, nurses, police officers, and firefighters – want to live where they work, but are increasingly unable to afford housing in their communities.

In Boise, for example, the population, now at just over 220,000, is expected to increase by another 200,000 people by 2025. It added 3 percent to its population last year, but construction isn’t keeping up, making it extremely difficult for residents to afford housing, despite being employed. Currently, a downtown condo is priced at $400,000.

In Seattle, a recent Zillow report revealed that it would take 17.1 years of saving for a single-income resident to afford a median-priced down payment on a home. That’s more than 6 years longer than the national average of 11 years. A two-income family would need to save for 7.6 years, where the median home value has soared in recent months to more than $800,000.

And in Astoria, Ore., population 9,800, there’s a housing shortage combined with an increase in vacation rentals, making it difficult for people who want to live and work in Astoria to find permanent housing – a complex situation that the city council is tackling but has not yet found a solution to.

Credit unions are encouraged to apply

To begin partnering with NWCUF to identify solutions, the Foundation invites all Northwest Credit Union Association member credit unions to submit a planning grant proposal by no later than 5 p.m. PST on Sept. 14.

After credit unions participating in the grant program complete their planning studies, another round of grants will be announced to help credit unions implement innovative scalable and/or replicable affordable workforce housing strategies. Credit unions that did not receive planning grants will still be eligible to apply for implementation funding.

To learn more about the planning grant opportunity, view the RFP online. Credit unions with questions or that wish to discuss their ideas should contact Sharee Adkins, Executive Director of the Foundation at [email protected] or by phone at 206-265-0313.

Posted in Economic Empowerment, Workforce Housing.