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  • Writer's pictureLeslie Lewallen

Ask Leslie- Affordable Housing

Today's Question:

Camas and our surrounding regions are facing a serious housing shortage which is driving up the cost of housing. What are your solutions to address this lack of supply issue in our area?

Leslie responds:

Homeownership is the foundation of America’s economic engine and provides many with opportunities for long-term economic stability throughout their lives. We need to create more affordable housing to improve supply and increase access to homeownership. Simple solution, but complex in its execution.

According to the Camas Housing Plan, in 2020, Camas permitted 338 new single-family residences - more than half of those were for homes over 3,000 square feet. Only seven, or 2% of those homes were less than 2000 square feet. No permits were issued in 2020 to build rental housing in large, multi-family developments. The City’s limited housing supply of homes less than 2,000 square feet and in the rental market presents significant challenges to accessing affordable or adequately priced housing in Camas. That is the reality of what we face today.

Match that reality up with Camas’ 20-year housing need projections in the Camas Housing Plan, 4,500 additional housing units by 2040, one-third of which will be occupied by low to extremely low income families. The challenge to meet affordable housing needs in the future is daunting, but achievable through smart, sustainable growth planning. The easy path would be to place a majority of these new housing units on Vacant Buildable Lands like the Northshore. But, is that the right way? Is that the smart, sustainable way?

2500 more million dollar homes on the Northshore does nothing of significant consequence to solve Camas’ affordable housing issues. Concurrent to whatever the Northshore may become, the Grass Valley sub-area plans, Downtown sub-area plan and Port of Camas/Washougal sub-area plan should also be developed to make a meaningful difference in answering the call for more affordable housing. For example, creating multi-family housing units in the Mill District would go a long way to solving this problem. Redeveloping the city-owned downtown lab site alone may have more of a favorable impact on affordable housing than the entire Northshore project.

If Camas really wants to solve the affordable housing problem, the City and its leaders must act to open all sub-areas for smart, sustainable development, not just one.

Thanks for the question. If you have a question, just send me a note at

- Leslie


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