Mukilteo Mayor Jennifer Gregerson (right) with her parents, Jill and Bill Gregerson. (Andrea Brown / The Herald)

Mukilteo Mayor Jennifer Gregerson (right) with her parents, Jill and Bill Gregerson. (Andrea Brown / The Herald)

Mukilteo mayor: It’s getting harder to call this place home

The gap between housing costs and income means fewer can afford to live in the lighthouse town by the sea.

MUKILTEO — Mayor Jennifer Gregerson is a third-generation Mukiltean.

She grew up here. So did her dad, Bill Gregerson. He and her mom, Jill, still live in the same 1970s house where she and her younger sister grew up. There have been Gregersons in the city since 1947.

These days, the mayor worries about future generations who can’t afford housing in their hometown.

“I’m proud to make it my home,” Gregerson, 41, said at Wednesday’s State of the City address. “But this has become a tougher and tougher possibility for many.”

The rising cost of housing is at the forefront of the challenges ahead for the city, she said.

“In the last 19 years, the median single-family home price has risen by almost 50%, adjusting for inflation. … Fewer and fewer families are able to purchase a home, and rental rates countywide have risen by 32%,” said Gregerson, who served on the City Council before being elected mayor in 2013 for her first term.

“The most affordable place to buy in Mukilteo requires a household income of $127,000 a year, higher than our average. People who work at our stores and restaurants will never be able to consider owning a home in Mukilteo, but they can rent, right? But you have to earn $60,000 a year to afford a one-bedroom apartment to rent in Mukilteo, and even if you have a roommate or partner there’s not a lot of options that are available.”

Her figures are from the Alliance for Housing Affordability, a coalition of 13 cities and other agencies in Snohomish County. She is chairwoman of the alliance, which has provided grants for housing projects in Everett and Edmonds.

Mukilteo is a bedroom community of about 21,300. The median household income is $105,146, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, which lists the median home value from 2014-18 at $544,200.

As mayor, Gregerson takes home about $70,000 a year. She also holds a sideline job for a yearbook company.

“Everyone can have challenges with housing. No matter how much money you make it still can be difficult,” she said after her annual address. “It is a big hurdle. We are going to build Harbour Reach. The waterfront is happening. We need more money but we’ll get there, we’ll figure it out.”

The Harbour Reach Corridor Project will connect neighborhoods between Beverly Park and Harbour Pointe Boulevard, and it will have pedestrian and bike paths. The new ferry terminal is on track to open in the fall of 2020.

“But the housing one is a bigger conversation,” she said.

Alison Brynelson, the superintendent of the Mukilteo School District, told the gathering how housing affects students. The district, with about 15,000 students, covers Mukilteo and portions of south Everett and unincorporated Snohomish County. About 68,000 people live within the boundaries.

“We do have students who experience homelessness or housing insecurity. … Often they have higher absentee rates or they are not able to do their homework because they are worried about their basic needs,” Brynelson said.

Other issues Gregerson touched on were public safety, roads, sidewalks, education and parks.

Andrea Brown: abrown@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3443. Twitter @reporterbrown.

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