Momentum building for a housing strategy

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One of my top priorities when I took over the Council’s housing committee this year has been to ignite development of a housing strategy for Seattle. We have master plans for pedestrian and bicycling improvements. We have a comprehensive growth strategy. We have neighborhood-level growth plans. We have a transit plan. We, also, have rising rents, concerns about the loss of affordable housing and strife about whether the apartment sizes being built are the sizes we need in the long-term. However, we don’t have a plan for how we, as a city, want to see housing grow.

That’s about to change.

Today in the Committee on Housing Affordability, Human Services & Economic Resiliency we’ll have a first review of a resolution that sets out our intentions and a timeframe for developing a housing plan for the city. The Mayor has done a great job keeping housing affordability front and center in his priorities and his public statements. He has welcomed the idea of a housing plan and the work will be spearheaded by staff in the City’s Office of Housing and Office for Policy and Innovation with help from a stakeholder group to be assembled this fall.

My goal is for the plan to look at the entire spectrum of housing development and affordability issues. I don’t think we can fully understand the pressures on renters, buyers, developers and others without understanding what the whole spectrum of housing in our city looks like now. For instance, we’ll need to understand the future of high-income housing in order to understand how the search for buildable land in our built-out city will affect existing housing stock.

If we’re going to stay true to our rhetoric about wanting affordability for low income and middle income people in our city, we have to be sharper than we’ve been in the past and plan for what we want.

After today’s discussion we’ll take more feedback, edit and then edit some more. I anticipate the committee will vote on the resolution establishing our work toward the plan on September 18.