Seattle (Feb. 18, 2019) – In her third State of the City Address, Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan announced unprecedented and urgent housing investments. Since December 2017, Mayor Durkan has leveraged $250 million in City dollars to create nearly $1.5 billion in housing investments and taken major action to address Seattle’s housing crisis.
The City’s new and historic investments mean that by 2022 more than 4,000 affordable homes will be available to households earning at or below 60 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) –$46,500 for an individual and $66,400 for a family of four. By comparison in the first 35 years of the Seattle Housing Levy, 10,000 homes were created.
While the City must continue making investments for low-income housing, middle-income families continue to struggle to find a place to live in our city that they can afford. Last month, Mayor Durkan’s Affordable Middle-Income Housing Advisory Council delivered a suite of recommendations with three high-impact strategies to keep homes affordable and to quickly bring online housing in a more cost-effective way. In the coming weeks, Mayor Durkan will act on measures to reduce permitting chokepoints, acknowledged by both housing advocates and builders as significantly slowing and adding costs to housing development.
After a decade of escalating rent and housing prices, Mayor Durkan, from the onset, has acted with urgency to address our intensifying need by:
Investing $250 million for affordable housing – including the largest investment in the history of the City of Seattle. In December, Mayor Durkan announced that the City will invest $110 million to create 1,944 new affordable homes in neighborhoods across Seattle, the largest investment and the largest number of affordable homes ever created in Seattle in one year in our City’s history. Since Mayor Durkan entered office in 2017, the City has directly invested $250 million and together, with our partners, nearly $1.5 billion in public and private resources to create and preserve affordable housing.
Stewarding the sale of the underutilized City properties at Mercer Street, amounting to nearly $300 million in public benefits for the people of Seattle, including reinvesting in housing priorities in the City. The sale requires the development of 175 affordable homes on site and in addition, the buyer will make an MHA payment to develop additional affordable homes throughout the City.
Announcing $52 million in affordable housing development over five years near high-quality transit as part of her Fare Share plan – a modest tax on Uber and Lyft rides.
Making Transformational investments for a mixed-income community in Northgate. Last week, Mayor Durkan announced the rare opportunity for the City of Seattle and the Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) to partner on transforming 8 acres of property into a mixed-income community near the Northgate Light Rail station. Located in a high opportunity and high displacement risk neighborhood, the property sits next to a city park, near the Northgate Community Center and Library.
Advancing her vision for a new livable and affordable community at Fort Lawton, creating up to 238 mixed-income affordable homes, including supportive housing for seniors and veterans, apartments for low-income households and opportunities for permanently affordable homeownership. A substantial portion of the land will be used for park and park-related uses, with preservation of existing natural areas that support wildlife habitat.
Creating a generational opportunity to invest $72.75 million in new housing and anti-displacement investments in the 2020 Adopted Budget, including:
- $30.5 million to strategically acquire properties that will provide affordable housing, community benefits and address the pressures of displacement;
- $12.75 million to build new affordable housing;
- $15 million to create a revolving Equitable Development Initiative (EDI) acquisition loan fund;
- $12 million to increase investments in permanently affordable homeownership; and,
- $2.5 million for a new financing tool to create more ADUs, like backyard cottages and in-law apartments for low- and middle-income homeowners.
Creating and expanding tools to increase housing options for middle-income households. In January 2019, Mayor Durkan launched the City’s first ever Affordable Middle-Income Housing Advisory Council to address the burgeoning need for affordable housing for households earning 60 to 120 percent Area Median Income (AMI) –individuals with incomes between $46,500 and $93,000 and families of four between $66,400 and $132,850. Middle-income families house people who serve in our schools and hospitals, in our restaurants, as maintenance staff, and the thousands who keep our small businesses running. Last month, the Advisory Council delivered a suite of recommendations with three high-impact strategies to keep housing affordable and to quickly bring online housing in a more cost-effective way.
Expansion of Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA), adding capacity for an additional 72,000 homes near high-quality transit with access to jobs, education and culture in 27 urban villages throughout the City. In addition, nearly all multifamily and commercial development now contributes to rent- and income-restricted housing – an estimated 6,000 new affordable homes in the first 10 years – making MHA the largest new contributor to affordable housing since the establishment of the voter-approved Seattle Housing Levy in 1981.
Executive Order addressing affordability and residential displacement by establishing a “community preference” policy that will allow residents in areas of the City at high risk of displacement to be prioritized during tenant selection on a case-by-case basis.
Updating the City’s tenant protections to harmonize them with stronger state protections and better help residents stay in their homes, in partnership with Councilmember Lisa Herbold; launched “Renting in Seattle,” a centralized resource for renters and landlords offering services and help navigating Seattle’s rental regulations. Renting in Seattleadministers more than $900,000 in grants to community organizations that provide assistance to renters including education, counseling and legal services for eviction defense, in the 2020 Adopted Budget.
Reducing regulatory, permitting and financial barriers for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). Mayor Durkan signed legislation updating rules on backyard cottages and in-law apartments. In addition to the legislation, Mayor Durkan issued an executive order to encourage more ADUs by reducing permitting and financial barriers for families who would like to consider this alternative allowing them flexibility to age in place and earn supplemental income. At the Mayor’s direction, the City is also moving forward to pre-approve several designs for backyard cottages to reduce the time and cost of permitting. As part of the 2020 budget, Mayor Durkan added funds to create a financing tool for owners to create ADUs affordable to low- and middle-income households.
Improving and renewing the Multi-Family Tax Exemption program, the City’s most successful program for providing affordable rent to middle-income households, renewing the program for another four years and limiting rent increases to keep homes affordable.