Kitsap to impose 1/10th of 1% sales tax for affordable housing

Faced with a troubling increase in homelessness in the region that’s been exacerbated by a scarcity of housing, the Kitsap County commissioners last week passed a 1/10th of 1% sales and use tax that will be used to help pay for more affordable housing.

The ordinance was unanimously approved by Commissioners Charlotte Garrido, Rob Gelder and Ed Wolfe following input received from public hearings last year. Wolfe quoted a statistic gathered from a Just in Time survey conducted in the county showing there were more than 500 homeless people in 2020.

The vote was supported by a 2020 law enacted by the state legislature that allows local entities to impose a 1/10th of 1% sales tax for affordable housing without gaining the approval of voters.

Wolfe said that the average sales tax increase per resident would be about $17 a year.

Gelder said the county will now work with its municipalities, including Port Orchard and Bremerton, that so far have not passed their own measures to collect a similar sales tax. Bainbridge Island and Poulsbo have passed ordinances that take effect this year.

County officials said they expect the sales tax addition will bring in approximately $5 million for affordable housing over the next 12 months of tax collection.