Understanding REET | Letter

When I read the Journal of the San Juans article titled “San Juan islanders look to REET funds as affordable housing savior,” I was concerned that readers would get the wrong impression.

I am the president of the board of trustees for OPAL Community Land Trust. I served on the campaign committee for the YES for Homes campaign to encourage votes for the new affordable housing Real Estate Excise Tax (REET). I am filled with gratitude that you, the voters of San Juan County, overwhelmingly passed the excise tax; generating funds that will help to address the affordable housing crisis we face in San Juan County.

What I need to stress is that the REET will help with our affordable housing crisis. It will not be the sole savior for affordable housing in our county. When REET funds are disbursed to a non- profit such as OPAL, they will provide much-needed seed money that will enable us to more easily get funding awards from state and federal government sources. They will rarely be sufficient to fund an entire project on their own.

An example is OPAL’s current effort to get the April’s Grove townhome project under construction. That project needs federal, state, local and private donations in order to provide housing for island families, workers and seniors.

Again, we are grateful for this new source of funding, because it will be an important piece of the funding puzzle for providing more affordable housing for San Juan County citizens.

Tim Fuller

OPAL board president