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    A Strong and Sensible Step for Affordable Housing

    This week the City Council took another strong and sensible step toward creating more affordable housing in Seattle. The Council passed a Resolution that should lead to a significant increase in resources for affordable housing. Rents are increasing rapidly. Our...[More]

    Action Summary, 10/20/14

    Action Summary of the Seattle City Council Full Council Meeting Monday, October 20, 2014 All Councilmembers were present.   PLANNING, LAND USE, AND SUSTAINABILITY COMMITTEE: 1. Res. 31551 ADOPTED As Amended (7-2; opposed: Bagshaw, Rasmussen) Stating the City's intent to implement an affordable housing linkage fee program, establishing policy parameters for such a progra[More]

    Budget Update: Public Hearing Thursday @ 5:30 p.m., Issue ID

    The City Council will hold its second budget public hearing on Thursday, October 23 at 5:30 p.m., in the Council Chambers on the second floor of City Hall at 4th and James. The sign-in sheet will be posted at 4:30 p.m. Additional details are listed on the official notice. The Council will begin Issue Identification […][More]

    Our reality – We must create affordable housing. Starting now.

    I want to make Seattle affordable for every income bracket. We can no longer limp along and hope the market builds and preserves enough affordable housing that helps everyone build a better life. To accomplish this we must encourage those who live and work and build in our community to be part of the solution: […][More]

    Linkage Fees

    Councilmember O’Brien and I submitted a guest opinion piece to the Seattle Times about linkage fees.  If you haven’t seen it yet, you can read it here:   Guest: Seattle needs a linkage fee to make housing more affordable for lower-income residents[More]

    Council to Hold Second Public Hearing on Proposed 2015 Budget

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 10/16/2014 Council to Hold Second Public Hearing on Proposed 2015 Budget SEATTLE - City Council will host its second public hearing on the proposed 2015 budget this Thursday evening at Seattle City Hall. The public will have ...[More]

    Update on City Actions in Response to Immigration Resolution

    In August, the City Council unanimously adopted Resolution 31539.  I authored the resolution, with the expertise and assistance of the Office of Immigrant and Refuge Affairs (OIRA), the Immigrant and Refugee Commission, and organizations like El Comite Pro-Reforma Migratoria Y Justicia Social .  It was co-sponsored by Councilmembers Harrell and Sawant.  Because nearly one-third of children […][More]

    People’s Budget discussed by Sawant as most City Elected Officials head to Chamber of Commerce retreat on taxpayer dime

    City of Seattle FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 10/15/2014

    People's Budget discussed by Sawant as most City Elected Officials head to Chamber of Commerce retreat on taxpayer dime

    Seattle - Councilmember Kshama Sawant and allies from the Low Income Housing Institute, Casa Latina, Transit Riders Union, the East African community, housing advocates, social justice activists and other community representatives released the following statement regarding the Mayor’s proposed 'business as usual' City Budget:

    "Our city is becoming increasingly unaffordable and unlivable for the majority of us. The suffering is being intensified by the fastest rising rents in the country. Rather than urgently addressing this crisis, Councilmembers and the Mayor are all set to deliver a 'business as usual' budget.

    "In a brazen display of corporate favoritism, seven out of the top ten elected public officials of this city are congregating at the Suncadia luxury resort in Cle Elum for a retreat with the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. Scandalously, $10,000 of City funds, in other words taxpayer money, will be used to finance these trips this year. Elected officials will be there with the CEO of Alaska Airlines and the CFO of Boeing, among others. For the entire week, all Council meetings are suspended so that elected officials can hobnob with lobbyists and executives from some of the biggest corporations and businesses. Such networking by elected officials with big business is nothing other than service provided in return for campaign funds, while ensuring future career opportunities. And let’s be honest - they are also taking down their next marching orders from the Chamber.

    "I don't take money from big business. My only priority is to serve working people and those who don't have a voice in government. In contrast to the Chamber retreat, I am going to hold a People's Budget Hearing October 30th at 6:00PM in City Hall, so that working people, human service providers, immigrant and people of color communities, social and economic justice organizations, and small businesses can talk about their needs and how we can fund them."

    [View in Council Newsroom]

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    Women in Business: Voula’s Offshore Cafe

    It’s no secret that Voula Vlaho loves her customers.  She’ll tell you so herself on days when, stepping out of semi retirement, she shows up at Voula’s Offshore Café on Northlake Way, within sight of Lake Union. voulas1

    “I just love to be with people,” says Voula, a spry, compact woman with salt and pepper hair. She’ll give you a maternal hug and point to the wall papered with pictures of her many customers and their children. She believes you have to love your customers. That, she insists, is “Greek philosophy.” She invites customers to call her “mama.”

    Known for Greek specialties, good food and generous portions, Voula’s café celebrated 30 years at 658 NE. Northlake Way on Sept. 11. The celebratory … Continue Reading »

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    Council Pursues Plan for New Building Development to Fund Affordable Housing

    City of Seattle FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 10/14/2014

    Council Pursues Plan for New Building Development to Fund Affordable Housing

    SEATTLE - A City Council committee today recommended approval of a plan to create an affordable housing linkage fee to preserve and create affordable housing in Seattle. The resolution directs City departments to develop legislation whereby new construction in multi-family and commercial zones would mitigate the cost of increasing rents by funding housing affordable to those households making $45,000 - $65,000 per year, which is 60% - 80% of area median income (AMI). 

    "If we want Seattle to be an inclusive city for people of all incomes, then we need to see more housing produced that's affordable to more people.  Up until this point, the market has clearly not given us the housing we need," said Councilmember Mike O'Brien, chair of the Planning, Land Use and Sustainability Committee and the legislation's sponsor.

    Developers could either pay a per-square-foot fee, which is variable based on project's location in the city, or avoid the fee by dedicating at least 3% - 5% of the units in their project to households making less than 80% AMI.  The money generated from fees would be invested in workforce housing.

    "Our expert economic consultants suggest that at this fee level, development would absorb the fees without constricting new supply or significantly raising rents," Councilmember O'Brien added.

    The following map illustrates where the linkage fee would be applied in multi-family and commercial development in the city.

    Full Council is expected to vote on the resolution on Monday, October 20.  Draft legislation for Council consideration is expected by June 1, 2015. The final legislation is anticipated to gradually phase-in over a three year period and would not affect existing projects or new projects with permit applications already submitted.

    Additional information about O'Brien's proposal for an Affordable Housing Linkage Fee in Seattle is available online.

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    [View in Council Newsroom]

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