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Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda Announced

City of Seattle
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 9/18/2014

Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda Announced

SEATTLE The City Council’s Committee on Housing Affordability, Human Services and Economic Resiliency approved a resolution today calling for the development of a Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda for Seattle. The Agenda will create a comprehensive housing plan for Seattle by identifying housing needs over the next ten years and recommending new policies or programs to meet any gaps.

“We have to intentionally plan to achieve housing affordability for a diverse mix of incomes and families in our city,” said Councilmember Sally J. Clark, the legislation’s sponsor and chair of the committee. “For the first time, we’ll have a comprehensive catch-all plan for how we’d like to see housing serve the entire spectrum of people in Seattle.”

The Agenda will be developed in the City’s Office of Housing and Office for Policy and Innovation, aided by a stakeholder advisory group. Staff will utilize recent council reports and research, best practices from cities around the nation and conduct a thorough review of existing policies and programs from across City departments. The plan is expected to be presented back to the Mayor and City Council by the end of May, 2015 for further community engagement, review and adoption.

“We need more housing options so that people who work in this city can afford to live in this city,” said Councilmember Mike O’Brien. “I believe this plan will help us get in front of the growing pressure on affordability and help us provide more opportunities to live in Seattle for more people.”

Seattle currently faces many challenges relating to housing affordability and access. Currently, 43% of Seattle renter households are burdened by housing costs and 21% are severely burdened, which means more than one- half of household income goes toward rent. Preliminary data also suggests Seattle will have a growing gap in family-sized housing. According to a recent study, enrollment in Seattle Public Schools’ kindergartens began increasing rapidly in the last decade. Enrollment is projected to be nearly 60,000 by the year 2020.

“Preserving affordable housing is particularly important in this housing climate when subsidized housing like the Theodora is being converted to market rate housing, not to mention the cycle of demolition, redevelopment and increased rent in market rate rentals, and finally the likely future upswing in condo conversions,” said Councilmember Nick Licata.

“Working together as a city, we can seize our destiny as a city that increases affordable housing across the economic spectrum – for homeless housing to workforce housing,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “By hearing from renters and homeowners, and representatives from the financial sector, for-profit developers, non-profit developers, and other local housing experts, we can develop a housing agenda that will make a powerful and lasting impact on the current and future affordability of our city.”

The resolution was developed collaboratively with community members, Mayor Ed Murray, Councilmember Sally J. Clark, Councilmember Mike O’Brien and Councilmember Nick Licata. Full Council is scheduled to vote on the resolution on Monday, September 22.

[View in Council Newsroom]

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