ARCH is the first regional housing trust fund of its kind in the country. King County and the cities of Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, Issaquah, Mercer Island, Newcastle, Woodinville and Bothell have joined the voluntary housing partnership to increase the supply of affordable housing on metropolitan Seattle's eastside.
"Prior to ARCH, only one city in the region was consistently funding housing, now all of the participating cities have been doing so,"' says Mary E Brooks, of the Housing Trust Fund Project.
ARCH coordinates distribution of local public resources, through a Housing Trust Fund, which allows cities to take a more proactive, leadership role to initiate affordable housing. During the past six years, efforts by the members have resulted in the construction of more than 1,500 units of housing affordable to low- and moderate-income households.
"Each member recognizes the value in forming a coalition, pooling financial resources, and coordinating planning efforts to provide affordable housing," said City of Redmond Mayor Rosemarie M. Ives. ARCH has proven that even in east King County, affordable housing can happen if everyone works together."
Although eastern King County is considered affluent, one-fourth of its residents live in households supported by service workers such as hotel maids, and workers like data entry operators and computer assemblers, with total annual incomes of $25,000 to $40,000. Able to buy housing priced at $100,000 or less, they are finding that it is increasingly difficult to acquire affordable housing given that the average price of homes being sold in east King County is two to three times that much.
"These days, it takes creativity and flexibility to make affordable housing projects come to fruition said Mark Thornetz, executive director of the Bellevue-based Downtown Action to Save Housing. "ARCH has proven to be an invaluable resource, structuring partnerships that work. ARCH offers the type of creativity and expertise that enables local jurisdictions to leverage their limited resources with other statewide and federal housing financing programs."
The expertise and resources provided by ARCH complement and support the efforts of private developers and community-based organizations. ARCH units have been constructed by both for-profit and nonprofit builders, and in partnership with human service agencies and homeowner organizations.