- Why housing? Why now?
- Who is Housing Now Seattle?
- Will this housing be different from normal buildings?
- How does Housing Now fit in with other affordable housing proposals?
- Where will this housing be built?
- How will this housing improve my neighborhood? The city as a whole?
- How will this housing benefit businesses and their employees?
- How long will this housing stay affordable?
- Who will build this housing?
- Who will own the land? The buildings?
- How is does this relate to other “Inclusionary Zoning” proposals?
- Who will be able to afford this housing?
- When will the minimum wage reach $15 an hour?
Seattle is becoming increasingly unaffordable due to rising housing costs. Of the nation’s most populous cities, Seattle rents have risen fastest since 2010, with the average price of a one bedroom apartment reaching nearly $1,500. Seattle’s housing crisis threatens the diversity, creativity and equity of the city, as low-income residents are increasingly pushed out of the city limits. Housing Now Seattle believes that all who work in Seattle should be able to live in Seattle. City finance for affordable housing construction is a crucial policy solution to achieving this outcome.
Not significantly. In order to achieve affordability targets there will be a practical limit on how big units can be, how many parking stalls per unit, and other features. These won’t (and can’t) be luxury units if they are to pay off the loans taken out to build them. As we pay off the loans we’ll be able to offer a given unit at a lower rate, meaning people will be able to afford more living space.
The details of where to build housing will need to be determined. We’re advocating for neighborhood affordability plans to update existing neighborhood plans. These plans will look at aspects such as land cost, proximity to transit, and other factors.
When workers can afford to live in the city they’re less likely to drive to work and contribute to congestion. More people riding mass transit helps support additional investments in mass transit and improved service. These units will compete with more expensive units and help keep housing costs down for everyone.
Existing businesses will benefit from workers being able to live closer to work, cutting down commute times and increasing satisfaction. In the long term, reduced housing costs will improve the lives of workers and the businesses they work for and visit as customers. Finally, in areas where retail is permitted on the ground floor there are opportunities for affordable retail to enhance neighborhood amenities and incubate small businesses.
As financier, the city will have the ability to impose certain requirements on these units regarding long term affordability. We support long term (99+ year) or in perpetuity requirements.
The city should offer financing to anyone who meets city defined affordability targets and agrees to long term affordability requirements. In practice this will mean existing non-profit developers will be the city’s primary partners.
Various ownership models will need to be looked at, including but not limited to city ownership of the lands and non-profit ownership of the buildings with a long term lease of the land. Enforceable legal terms of affordability are in many ways more important than which organization has its name on a piece of paper. (See above)
Inclusionary zoning proposals generally require developers to build a certain number of affordable housing units in exchange for increased zoning capacity. Often this amounts to a de facto transfer from the “market rate” units to subsidize affordable units. Our proposal focuses on creating as much housing as possible with little or no subsidies. For many families making less than $15 an hour or with special needs, other housing policies/programs will be needed.
Our goal is for everyone who works in Seattle to be able to live in Seattle. In practice there will be a few limitations to this. With Seattle raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour, we have an opportunity to build housing that minimum wage workers can afford. Certain families with higher than average expenses will not be able to afford this without additional income. However, if we build these units to be affordable to many families now, in the future after the building loans are paid off we can reduce rents further.
Seattle’s minimum wage law states that an increased wage will be phased in over several years with many workers reaching $15 an hour in 2017 and the last group of workers reaching $15 by 2021. For more details, check out the information and resources on Mayor Ed Murray’s minimum wage website.