Connected Communities legislation goes to a vote promising less red tape for community-led development projects

Legislation creating a pilot program to help nonprofit and other community organizations develop affordable housing and commercial space will go to a vote tomorrow in the Land Use Committee. The legislation known as Connected Communities is sponsored by Councilmember Tammy J. Morales (District 2).

“This is a win-win. The fact is many community-based organizations are seeking opportunities to help build affordable housing and develop vital commercial spaces and third places. We just need to get out of their way. This legislation does that by cutting red tape and onerous regulations,” said Councilmember Morales.

Connected Communities has the support of more than two dozen community organizations and affordable housing developers, including the Housing Development Consortium (HDC), Habitat for Humanity Seattle-King County, Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle (ULMS), Filipino Community of Seattle, El Centro de la Raza, Cultural Space Agency, Up Lift Investment Group, Crescent Collaborative, and more. Additionally, the Council has received over 1,000 emails of support from residents across the city.

The legislation is the outcome of an intensive two-year community engagement process that incorporated feedback from community stakeholders, the Mayor’s Office, the prior Council, and the current Council.

How Connected Communities would work

The pilot program would encourage development of affordable housing and other equitable development uses by create more flexible zoning regulations for qualifying projects. The pilot is intended to model equitable development and partnership types that reduce displacement and address the effects of redlining and the use of racially restrictive covenants.  The pilot would end by 2029 or after 35 qualifying projects have applied, whichever is earlier.

The pilot program would exclude Downtown Seattle, Highrise zones, and the industrial zones.


“The Housing Development Consortium is excited to support Councilmember Morales’ Connected Communities pilot legislation. This tool will facilitate more community-led development, increase the supply and diversity of housing options in every neighborhood, and build connected communities with access to essential amenities. This pilot encourages the kind of development we need most; it provides meaningful land use incentives for non-profit affordable housing development and creates a pathway to leverage the ability of private developers to build affordable housing in partnership with community-based organizations. We look forward to working with this Council on more opportunities for land use reform and incentives for affordable housing, so we can create pathways to stability for countless neighbors and families,” said Patience Malaba, Chief Executive Officer, Housing Development Consortium.

“Habitat for Humanity Seattle-King & Kittitas Counties aims to serve the community we all love by building homes and community. This pilot program would provide us with friendly policies that would incentivize more affordable housing and encourage development partnerships for more affordable homeownership opportunities – partnerships like ours with African Community Housing will produce over fifty new units across three projects, all within the city of Seattle. More friendly policies like this will go a long way towards addressing the deep housing crisis in our city,” said Ryan Donohue, Chief Advocacy Officer, Habitat for Humanity Seattle-King & Kittitas Counties.

“Futurewise strongly supports the Connected Community Development Partnership Bonus Pilot Program legislation (CB 120750). Seattle should incentivize private projects that build affordable housing in partnership with community-based organizations and individual landowners. This leverages the city’s regulatory power to help communities resist displacement pressure and frees up public funds for other affordable housing initiatives. This pilot program will provide insights to guide the city’s anti-displacement policies, which are required by the Growth Management Act (see RCW 36.70A.070(2)(h)). Futurewise urges the Land Use Committee to advance this legislation to the Full Council for adoption,” said Tiernan Martin, Director of Research, Futurewise.