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Longview council candidates will attend public forum on housing

Candidates in Longview’s two competitive City Council races will speak about housing issues during a public forum Sept. 30.

The housing topics forum is being held by the Lower Columbia Association of Realtors and the Lower Columbia Contractors Association. The forum will be held at 6 p.m. at the Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts and will be free for the public to attend.

The candidates expected to attend the upcoming forum are Angela Wean and Chet Makinster from the position 6 race and Spencer Boudreau and Tom Lee from the position 7 race.

Mike Wallin, a current Longview city councilmember and member of the executive board for the Realtors association, said the event will be a chance to dig into the details of how the City Council candidates would approach a variety of housing issues.

“The hope is that we get some specific policy ideas from these candidates. A number of them have been talking about housing as an issue during their campaigns so far,” Wallin said.

The forum will be open to broader questions from the public about the current housing stock, home and rent affordability, barriers facing unhoused Longview residents and other concerns. Wallin said the host associations may also press on more bureaucratic policies about zoning and permitting that affect the housing supply.

Limited housing options and rising prices have become a growing concern in Longview and across Cowlitz County. A report earlier this year by the Washington Center for Real Estate Research found Cowlitz County had a 0.5% apartment vacancy rate, far below the rate considered healthy for a local economy.

The Northwest Multiple Listing Service said Cowlitz County had 0.7 months of housing inventory available in August. The median price for homes sold in Cowlitz County during the second quarter of 2021 was around $370,000, more than double the county’s median home price in 2014.

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