Melanie Fohl of the Housing Redevelopment Authority. (Photo: Marshall Hoffman)

Housing Redevelopment Authority Director Melanie Fohl gave some startling figures on the state of affordable housing in Stevens County at Tuesday’s meeting of the Stevens County Board of Commissioners. Many residents are cost burdened with their housing, defined as requiring more than 30 percent of a household’s income to pay for housing. Severely cost burdened households pay more than 50 percent of their income for housing.

“Stevens County right now has the highest overall percentage of cost-burdened renters in the entire state: 52 percent,” said Fohl. “It’s a huge number. In fact, 34 percent of all renters in Stevens County pay more than half of their income for housing.”

Fohl said there is a growing number of seniors who are cost-burdened. She also noted that the median income for households in the county has declined 10 percent in recent years, while the median rent has increased 26 percent during that same time. A lack of affordable housing has a ripple effect throughout the community, she said, influencing kids’ performance in school, mental health and an ability to maintain employment.

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