Yes for Homes

What is the “YES for Homes!” campaign?
YES for Homes Coalition of SJC is a grassroots organization of volunteers who have come together in support of the creation of the San Juan County Home Fund for the development and preservation of affordable homes. Some volunteers work with local non-profits while others are simply citizens who want to be part of creating more opportunities for stable, secure homes for San Juan County (SJC) residents.

How will the Home Fund be funded?
The Home Fund will be funded by a one-time tax paid at the time of a real estate sale –
a 0.5% Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) – NOT an ongoing property tax. This REET will sunset in 12 years, at which time the voters will decide whether to re-authorize.

Why does housing matter in San Juan County?
Our island communities depend on people who need affordable homes. San Juan County’s social well-being, quality of life, and economic vitality are all interconnected. Housing prices in the islands are high, because San Juan County attracts people with means from all over the world, but wages in our rural tourist-based economy are low.

Why is housing a shared public concern?
As an island community, with island-specific needs, SJC faces unique opportunities and challenges. Many community volunteers for the emergency medical and fire service, schools, and cultural and environmental activities come from working households. If service providers and workers live on the mainland and ferry to the islands, we lose our diversity and culture. When neighbors are no longer providing goods and services to neighbors, there is an erosion in community. An important part of the quality of island life is having our neighbors live, work and volunteer in the community.

Why is a local funding source for housing being considered?
Employers, along with many others, have acknowledged that SJC has a severe lack of affordable and appropriate homes for families, working residents and others in need. Private non-profits simply can’t raise enough funds to meet the needs of local residents. Revenue from the Home Fund would help fund projects to create local, long-term affordable homes. 

Who will the funds help?
Specifically, the state code mandates that the REET revenue serve very-low, low and moderate-income households and those with special needs.

When will San Juan County be voting to create the Home Fund?
SJC is asking voters to decide in the November 2018 election on the creation of the Home Fund, with revenue coming from a 0.5 percent (1/2 of one percent) Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) on all San Juan County real estate transactions.

Why was the REET chosen as the preferred funding source?
The REET is the only source of funds available after a vote of the people that has the flexibility to serve moderate-income households. Other available funding sources are usually restricted to low and/or very-low-income households.

What will the funds be used for?
The REET funds collected can be used for the development of affordable homes including acquisition, construction, rehabilitation, and maintenance and operation of homes. Priority will be given to projects that provide perpetual affordability.

The details of program funding can be found in the San Juan County’s “Administrative & Financial Plan Program Years: 2019-30.” You can read the plan at:

How will the funds be managed?
Funds will be managed through the existing SJC Health & Community Services Department assisted by the Housing Advisory Board. The funds will be managed according to an approved plan, which is available to the public. To read the plan:

How much money will the Home Fund raise for housing?
When approved by voters in November 2018, the fund is expected to generate approximately $1,200,000 annually. It is projected that for every dollar raised, at least 4 additional dollars will be attracted through state and federal funding, loans, grantors and local contributors.

When will the Home Fund go into effect?
When the measure passes, the collection of funds would begin 30 days after the election is certified.

How much will the property buyer pay?
The buyer of a $350,000 home, for example, will have $1,750 added to their closing costs. Often these fees are financed with the mortgage.  A homebuyer with a 4% mortgage would pay an additional $8 per month.  In addition, buyers who are low income are eligible for a grant by the Federal Home Loan Bank’s HomeStart Savings program, currently administered by Islanders Bank, to cover a portion of closing costs.

Paid for by Yes for Homes Coalition of San Juan County, PO Box 1011, Friday Harbor, WA 98250 – Labor/Materials Donated

Posted on October 10, 2018 at 5:43 am by

Categories: Real Estate

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