Frequently Asked Questions

General Housing Action Plan Questions

What is a Housing Action Plan (HAP)?

A Housing Action Plan is a strategic plan about increasing housing options and choices in the city. The plan centers on community engagement. Provided input will guide the strategies and policies of the HAP.

Why are we doing a Housing Action Plan (HAP)?

This document will outline how the city can meet its housing needs and will be shaped by data and public input. The City opted to pursue this work and is committed to incorporating community voices into this plan.

About the Housing Action Plan process

When will the HAP be done?

The final HAP needs to be completed and adopted by June 2023. This deadline is based on grant guidelines.

How is the HAP funded?

The HAP is a state grant-funded effort that provides the opportunity to create an actionable policy document. The funding for this effort is provided via Washington State Legislature passed House Bill (HB) 1923.

What are the steps for a HAP?

The HAP includes several key components, as listed below:

  1. Housing Needs Assessment (HNA): A HNA involves compiling various data sources to create a baseline demographic picture of a community. completed in the spring of 2022
  2. Housing Policy Framework Review 
  3. Community Engagement: Grant requirements prescribe that residents and community members are given opportunities to provide input for this plan. late spring and summer of 2022
  4. Draft Housing Action Plan (HAP): A draft HAP will be written and presented following the community outreach. This draft will incorporate community feedback, policy and code recommendations.
  5. Review and Adoption: A formal review and public hearings processes will allow the HAP to be adopted by the grant mandated deadline of June 2023.

Who is representing the community for this effort?

Blueline asked the City to identify persons to sit on two different groups. One committee is made up of city stakeholders, like residents with neighborhood ties and community leaders. The second is comprised of housing professionals, persons like developers and real estate experts. Together these two groups provide a community perspective and a technical perspective of housing in the city. Lastly, the survey is available to all residents, and everyone is encouraged to submit responses. The survey results will also inform policy recommendations for the HAP.

About the Housing Needs Assessment

What is a Housing Needs Assessment (HNA)?

A HNA is a document requirement for this grant effort. It serves as a baseline regarding housing and is a data-heavy document prepared before the HAP. The Stanwood HNA was reviewed by City Council in April 2022. A copy of the HNA is found in the Additional Sources section of this webpage. 

Why is the data in the HNA from 2019?

The HNA is comprised of numerous data sources including the U.S. Census and the American Community Survey (ACS) which are all based on earlier (2019) findings. More recent, federal data was not available at the time this report was written. Although a Census was conducted in 2020, release of the data products has been delayed. You can read more about that here and here.

Also, bear in mind that the HNA data, in addition to the housing policy framework review and public engagement, are what guides the development of the HAP. The housing policy framework review evaluates current progress toward meeting the city’s housing element and the effectiveness of housing programs and policies. The public engagement process allows the community-at-large and key stakeholders to speak to the city’s more recent housing trends and needs. 

City Planning Requirements

How does the HAP impact future city planning?

The HAP provides structure for updating the housing element of the comprehensive plan. Additionally, the HAP recommends actions and strategies around addressing the housing needs of the city. 

What are other cities doing for their HAPs?

Numerous cities received this grant funding, a complete list of these municipalities can be found on the Washington State Department of Commerce Planning for Housing website. 

What other planning is the City doing?

The City is also working on the Comprehensive Plan. Cities of certain sizes are required to plan per the Washington State Growth Management Act (GMA). RCW 36.70A.070(2) requires the following for a housing element (emphasis added for language changed since 1990):

(2) A housing element ensuring the vitality and character of established residential neighborhoods that:

(a) Includes an inventory and analysis of existing and projected housing needs that identifies the number of housing units necessary to manage projected growth;

(b) Includes a statement of goals, policies, objectives, and mandatory provisions for the preservation, improvement, and development of housing, including single-family residences;

(c) Identifies sufficient land for housing, including, but not limited to, government-assisted housing, housing for low-income families, manufactured housing, multifamily housing, and group homes and foster care facilities; and

(d) Makes adequate provisions for existing and projected needs of all economic segments of the community. In counties and cities subject to the review and evaluation requirements of RCW 36.70A.215, any revision to the housing element shall include consideration of prior review and evaluation reports and any reasonable measures identified.

The update of the Comprehensive Plan Housing Element will be largely based on the HAP work. 

HB 1923 requires the HAP to “review and evaluate the current housing element adopted pursuant to RCW 36.70A.070, including an evaluation of success in attaining planned housing types and units, the achievement of goals and policies, and implementation of the schedule of programs and actions.”

What are the City’s existing housing policies?

The 2015 Stanwood Comprehensive Plan lays out the City's existing housing goals and policies which can be viewed here.

HAP and Housing Affordability

What is affordable housing?

The term affordable housing refers to households spending less than 30% of the total household income on housing. Housing includes costs like rent, mortgage, insurance, and utilities. 

The Washington State Growth Management Act (GMA) defines affordable housing as:

(2) “Affordable housing” means, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise, residential housing whose monthly costs, including utilities other than telephone, do not exceed thirty percent of the monthly income of a household:

(a) For rental housing, households whose income is 60% of the median household income adjusted for household size, for the county where the household is located, as reported by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development; or

(b) For owner-occupied housing, households whose income is 80% of the median household income adjusted for household size, for the county where the household is located, as reported by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Will the HAP force Stanwood to meet quotas for housing, Section 8, or rent control, or to build low-income housing?

The grant requirements and the HAP do not establish mandates. Rather the HAP provides policy recommendations. Per the GMA, the City is required to ensure sufficient land to meet population targets established by the state. These requirements are independent of the HAP.

Will the HAP address the cost of housing?

The HAP will provide policy recommendations that may indirectly address housing costs. These recommendations may influence how and what kind of housing is built.