IA Engagement: The Housing Crisis in Washington State

Emily Leise, Guest Writer

The political issue I have been exploring for my Global Politics IA is the housing crisis and its consequences. The housing crisis is present in many countries, and the United States is not an exception. In my research, I have been focused specifically on the housing crisis in Washington State and the Pacific Northwest. There are a lot of factors involved in this issue and many impacts as well. Another focus of my research has been what affects non-governmental organizations have on the housing crisis. This topic is a very important and widespread one, so understanding the issue is necessary to working towards better housing situations in the future.

As stated earlier, the housing crisis impacts many nations. For a lot of people, owning a house is unlikely, and many struggle to pay rent. Some people may even end up dealing with severe consequences of the housing crisis, like homelessness. In Washington State, there were around 22,923 homeless people in January 2022. The number of homeless in the state makes up about 0.3% of the population, and while this percentage is low, the housing crisis still affects many to differing degrees such as low income households that struggle to pay rent and face evictions. The effects of the housing crisis are worsened by the fact that the wage increase does not match the rent increase. In Washington, the rent has increased by 42% while wages have only increased by 23% since 2014. Along with this, several PNW areas that used to have housing surplus, now have a housing shortage. It is clear that the housing crisis has impacted many, including Washington residents.

In many places dealing with the housing crisis, it has been seen that non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are an important force in fighting the issue and providing support to those impacted most. However, the success of NGOs has been a point of contention. One NGO in Washington – Building Changes – says they have had an impact on the housing crisis. They do things like creating funds for other NGOs, implementing strategies to help those who are homeless and collecting data and creating databases on the housing crisis and homelessness. This NGO has raised millions of dollars and have had positive effects on the community. While they do support those struggling, the issue continues to persist as a whole. Some NGOs focus on getting policy changed, like the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance. These NGOs both have important duties, but the issue likely won’t be resolved without the support of the government, as NGOs can only contribute so much.

The housing crisis is a very important issue that ultimately affects the majority of the population to varying degrees. NGOs relieve the issue to an extent, however it is likely that it will take significant government policy change to solve the issue. Regardless, supporting local NGOs can still help a lot of people who struggle with the housing crisis.



This article serves as an engagement for the author’s Global Politics Internal Assessment. It has been edited for length and clarity and to uphold Inkwell’s standards for published content.