210308-yh-news-veteranshousing-2.jpg

The construction site of an apartment building is photographed Friday, March 5, 2021, at Yakima Housing Authority’s Chuck Austin Place on Tahoma Avenue in Yakima, Wash.

Say you’re buying a shirt for $20. Fits nice and it’ll be easy to wash.

But wait: When you get to the cash register, they add 2 cents to the price. Now it’s gonna cost $20.02.

What the …?

Seriously, though. Would that 2 cents truly be a deal-breaker? Would you even notice it?

If you would, then you’re probably among the people who’d benefit the most from an idea the Yakima City Council is considering: a one-tenth

of 1% sales tax to help provide more affordable housing.

Because if adding two pennies to the cost of a shirt genuinely upsets your budget, you’re likely struggling mightily to keep up with the cost of your home in a town where the vacancy rate is less than 1%.

And you’re in good company. More than a third of city residents spend more than 30% of their income to keep a roof over their heads.

That’s why the city’s considering this plan. The council voted Tuesday to approve a draft ordinance that establishes the tax; it intends to consider the ordinance further at its Sept. 21 meeting.

Councilwoman Soneya Lund said the tax would generate about $2 million a year that could help with affordable housing.

It offers a secondary benefit, too.

Making housing easier to come by would improve overall health in the city, according to Yakima Neighborhood Health Services CEO Rhonda Hauff.

“No amount of health care can substitute for stable housing,” Hauff told the City Council during this week’s Zoom hearing on the proposed plan.

“We can attest to the improved health outcomes when a person has stable housing.”

The city will need to work out some details, but this seems like a wise and well-intentioned step so far.

They’ll need to spell out exactly how that

$2 million a year would be spent and how, specifically, it would make local housing more affordable.

But there will be time for that at the Sept. 21 discussion.

Meantime, city leaders who support the idea need to figure out how to sell a sales tax to an electorate that is likely to be hostile to the idea on principle. It won’t be easy, no matter how much sense it might make on paper, because anti-tax fever tends to affect people’s vision.

Still, we’re glad to see the city take ownership of Yakima’s housing situation. Too many of us are losing our shirts trying to keep up with the rents around here.