The Latest News on Affordable Housing

Find the latest news on affordable housing, the linkage fee, HALA, and the Coalition for Housing Solutions.

Get rid of single family zoning? These conversations shouldn’t be secret.

7 Jul 2015 | posted in: Uncategorized | 0

Most dramatically, the committee is considering a recommendation to do away with single-family zoning — which for a hundred-plus years has been the defining feature of Seattle’s strong neighborhood feel.

“We can still be a city for everyone, but only if we give up our outdated ideal of every family living in their own home on a 5,000 square foot lot,” a draft letter from the committee co-chairs reads.

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Housing Developers: Yes, Seattle can build 50,000 units in 10 years

15 Apr 2015 | posted in: In The News | 0

The Coalition for Housing Solutions released its report seven weeks before Murray’s Housing Affordability and Living Agenda (HALA) panel is due to release its long-term plan to address the city’s housing crisis. Murray appointed the 28-member panel last fall, and this spring he issued his call to build 50,000 new housing units over 10 years.


How Small Tyrants are Having a Big Impact on Rental Affordability in America

8 Apr 2015 | posted in: Uncategorized | 0

The tyranny of small decisions (generally well-meaning, one-off policies that can create real costs and limitations when taken together) and the tyranny of local government (in the form of neighborhood NIMBYism) are combining to limit and add expense to affordable rental development, according to participants in a recent Zillow roundtable discussion.


Seattle Mayor announces affordable housing stretch goal

26 Mar 2015 | posted in: Uncategorized | 0

Mayor Ed Murray announced an ambitious goal to add 50,000 housing units in the city of Seattle Thursday. The units would phase in over the next ten years through partnerships with the non-profit, public and private sectors.

Under Murray’s plan, 20,000 of those units would qualify as affordable housing and 30,000 will be market rate. Exactly how those numbers will be achieved is still unclear, left largely to the Mayor’s Housing Affordability and Livability Advisory Committee (HALA). Their recommendations are due in May.


Mayor puts a number on ‘affordable housing’

26 Mar 2015 | posted in: Uncategorized | 0

Right now, the Multi-Family Tax Exemption is one incentive the city has been offering developers for some years – if they agree to keep a certain number of units in their projects in certain areas (including West Seattle’s urban villages/centers) at a certain percentage of the area’s median income, they get a 12-year tax break, no property taxes on the residential portion of their buildings.


Coalition for Housing Solutions proposes policy actions to increase housing affordability

16 Mar 2015 | posted in: Uncategorized | 0

The Seattle Metro Chamber joined the 23 other businesses and organizations that make up the Coalition for Housing Solutions to send a letter to City of Seattle leaders offering a host of potential actions that would help increase housing affordability in Seattle.
This letter represents the culmination of a series of workshops and economic research done by the Coalition, and the full list of suggestions is in the letter’s appendix.


Affordable housing: Pressure mounts on Mayor Murray

16 Mar 2015 | posted in: Uncategorized | 0

Players in Seattle’s real-estate industry and advocates for low-income housing are ratcheting up the pressure on Mayor Ed Murray as the May 30 deadline for his task force to issue recommendations on the city’s housing-affordability woes draws closer.

The business people and activists are pushing in opposite directions on several issues, including a proposed fee on developers and local rent control. There also are a few areas where the frequent combatants are beginning to overlap.


City misses opportunity

13 Mar 2015 | posted in: Uncategorized | 0

Isn’t it weird that…at a time when affordable housing is arguably the most pressing issue in the city, the mayor announced today that he’s turning housing property into a park. There’s nothing wrong with parks, but in a city with limited land that’s simultaneously resistant to density, it’s a blown opportunity.


Unlikely Allies: Sawant and Developers?

5 Mar 2015 | posted in: Uncategorized | 0

A draft of the letter obtained by PubliCola states: “Utilization of publicly owned land: The City of Seattle and other public agencies own significant parcels of vacant or underutilized land capable of supporting infill housing. There are a variety of models and partnership arrangements that the city could utilize to develop affordable housing on publicly owned land.”



Affordable Housing Strategies for Seattle

1 Feb 2015 | posted in: Press | 0

Housing affordability is one of the toughest challenges that Seattle and other cities in the region are currently facing. It threatens everything that makes the Puget Sound region a great place to live — our diversity, our openness, our culture, our environment and our economic competitiveness.


Seattle’s affordable housing explained

15 Dec 2014 | posted in: Press | 0
By Josh Cohen

Seattle is the fastest-growing city in America, with over 1,000 new residents joining us each month. These days, the city skyline is defined as much by construction cranes as it is by the Space Needle. The population boom has brought with it a surge in housing costs; Seattle is now the #1 city for rising median rent.


Seattle City Council approves housing tax

23 Oct 2014 | posted in: Uncategorized | 0

The Downtown Seattle Association (DSA) and a broad coalition of partner organizations have been vocal with concerns about the legality of the council imposing this housing tax, and its ramifications on renters and buyers in Seattle. With an estimate imposing this housing tax will result in rent increase for 90 percent of Seattle renters, there is concern that Council is approaching this problem from the wrong angle.


Seattle City Council pushes forward on developer fees

20 Oct 2014 | posted in: Uncategorized | 0

The Council voted 7-2 to in favor of a resolution stating its intent to implement a “linkage fee” program. Under such a program, the city would charge the fees on new commercial and multi-family residential construction in denser parts of the city. Developers argue that the cost of the fees would jack up rental and purchase prices for property, undermining the Council’s affordability goals. And in a letter sent to council members last week, a group of land use attorneys questioned whether the envisioned fees are even legal under state law.


The linkage fee trap

19 Oct 2014 | posted in: Uncategorized | 0

Seattle is a compassionate city faced, like all growing cities, with an affordable housing challenge. Most Seattleites hope to see their city successfully tackle that challenge with effective programs that help those most in need. But unfortunately, translating such good intentions into action is all too often distorted by politics. And the latest case in point is City Council’s rush to enact a “linkage fee.”


linkage map showing data

Seattle’s Proposed Linkage Fee

18 Oct 2014 | posted in: Linkage Fees | 0

This Monday, the Seattle City Council is set to vote on a housing “linkage fee” — a tax on development to fund low-income housing. Given that it got all five votes out of committee, passage seems reasonably certain. As a member of team density, I’m supposed to hate this proposal. It does have its problems, but I think there are strong arguments ($) on both sides.


Tax real estate development? Seattle city councilman makes his case

14 Oct 2014 | posted in: City Hall, Press | 0
By Marc Stiles

Talk about a tough audience.

On Thursday, Mike O’Brien, the chairman of a Seattle City Council committee that’s looking at taxing real estate development to fund affordable housing, sat in front of 400 people, many of them developers, to explain why they might soon have to pay a “linkage fee.” New residential, office or retail development in high-growth areas could be required to pay money into a fund to build affordable units.


Seattle: The Land Supply Forgot

8 Oct 2014 | posted in: Press | 0
By Roger Valdez

If Jonathan Swift were alive and writing satire about American culture and politics, he might devote at least a chapter to Seattle’s latest public debate over housing. Perhaps in Swift’s story would be about an adventurer, like Gulliver, seeking new and strange lands washing up on an island where people genuinely believed adding costs to expensive things makes them cheaper, building more housing makes rents go up, and taxing new housing is the best way to lower rents.


Will Seattle start the San Francisco death spiral?

29 Sep 2014 | posted in: Uncategorized | 0

What is Mike O’Brien proposing to solve perceived rent increases? He wants to impose a tax of anywhere from $8 to $22 per square foot for any new construction in Seattle. So a 10,000 square foot development in Capitol Hill, for instance, would pay a fee of $120,000 to $150,000. As we pointed out when we were asking to keep microhousing out of the design review process, all the extra fees just end up getting folded into rents. There is no other way to make up the costs. No, taking less “profit” isn’t an option, because lenders and investors set Net Operating Income (NOI). When the ratio of costs to income goes up, banks and investors expect it to be off set with more income: that means higher rents.


Chart of Housing data 2009

The Inconvenient Truth About Workforce Housing

10 Feb 2014 | posted in: Blogs, Smart Growth Seattle, Uncategorized | 0
By Dan Bertolet

For the better part of the past decade, both advocates and policymakers have been decrying Seattle’s perceived lack of housing affordable to people with incomes in the lower-middle range—so-called “workforce housing.” As a result, Seattle has implemented and is continuing to expand a program known as Incentive Zoning intended to create subsidized workforce housing through fees imposed on new development.