New Housing

Alejandro Hernandez, foreman with of Tito’s Construction, LLC, nails lumber together while building an interior wall during construction on a new home in West Valley in Yakima, Wash., Wednesday, March 15, 2017. (SHAWN GUST/Yakima Herald-Republic)

‘It’s only a few cents more. Less than a latte a day.” It’s the same thing we’ve heard time and time again supporting tax hikes in Washington.

A few dollars more on your car tabs for Sound Transit, a couple pennies for behavioral health, a dime extra for a soda to stop obesity. …

What have taxpayers received? A bureaucratic and waste-riddled train system, a worsening mental health crisis, millions of dollars out of the pockets of the poor to pay six-figure government salaries, and no change in how much soda Seattle drinks.

The same is true for affordable housing. Nearly $20 million in taxes spent for 80 apartments in Yakima and we think $2 million will make a dent?

Meanwhile, the private sector has built thousands of apartments for a fraction of the per-unit cost and there are hundreds more already permitted.

We’re in the middle of a housing crisis, but tax dollars won’t get us out of it. There’s not enough inventory in Yakima and what is available sells for too much already.

With everything that’s driving up home prices: land availability, lumber and supply chain issues, why on earth would the City Council choose to pile on?

Sales tax is charged on the total contract price for a new home and when it comes to building, those few pennies quickly turn into hundreds of dollars.

Add that to the thousands of dollars more this tax will cost home building companies in overhead on tools, sandpaper, safety equipment — all things necessary to get the job done — and you’re adding enough to move housing farther out of the reach of Yakima families, even if it’s just that little bit more.

To qualify for a mortgage, you have to make a certain amount of money. If you don’t make enough money, you don’t get the mortgage and you don’t get the home.

Whether that difference is a couple of hundred dollars or a couple of thousand doesn’t matter to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

According to economic modeling done by Dr. Na Zhao for the National Association of Home Builders based on income levels and home prices in Yakima: for every $1,000 added to the cost of a home, 82 households are disqualified from a mortgage.

It’s just a few cents, it’s just a latte, but it’s enough.

You can’t make housing affordable by making it more expensive. If you don’t feel the tax hike buying a $20 shirt, you certainly will when buying a $300,000 home.

The sales tax hike will not solve Yakima’s housing crisis, it’ll only make it worse.

Tim Lovelass is president of the Central Washington Home Builders Association. He is the owner of Tim Lovelass Construction and has been building homes in Yakima for more than a decade.