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Seattle is in the midst of a worsening housing shortage. This housing shortage is causing home prices and rents to rapidly increase. Affordable housing in King County has decreased by over 110,000 units in the past 10 years while the population of the county has increased by more than 300,000 in that time period. This is directly contributing to the ever-growing number of our homeless neighbors. Too many in our community are one illness or unexpected expense away from losing their home. Once homeless, people face numerous compounding issues including physical health, mental health, and substance abuse, that make it even harder to get back on track. We must do everything we can to keep families housed, and a vital part of that is increasing the amount of all kinds of housing in our city.

We should:

  • Follow the recently passed WA State middle housing bill and enable the construction of more multi-family housing in areas currently zoned for single-family homes. Both our housing crisis and our climate emergency call for us to adopt a more community-focused and compact style of living. Growing up in Massachusetts in the Boston area, Nilu lived in many multi-family houses both as a child and as an adult, and found them to be immense drivers of building community and enabling housing affordability.

  • Further up-zone more parts of the city, paired with MHA requirements that make sense and do not suppress development.

  • Streamline permitting to reduce barriers to building more homes.

  • Increase funding for affordable housing in order to both build and maintain affordable housing.

  • Encourage more mixed-use development like what is happening with Northgate Commons by improving incentives for developers to include more affordable housing units as part of these projects.

  • Protect the affordable housing that we do have by implementing policies to increase tenant protections. When living on Capitol Hill, Nilu and her family were kicked out of their home by their landlord selling his condo. In addition to removing our family (with notification), the landlord abused the security deposit policy and attempted to unjustifiably take an entire month’s rent. Confiscating a family’s deposit in this way can truly destroy their financial stability, and these predatory practices can be prevented by City policy.

  • Offer incentives such as tax credits to landlords who rent out units at affordable rates. We need to encourage landlords to offer affordable housing options, even when market-rate rents are high.

  • With the opening of the light rail at Northgate and soon the NE 130th St Station, District 5 is at risk of housing displacement. We need programs such as right to return for those displaced or at risk of displacement.

  • We can relieve this pressure by increasing residential space downtown, which also yields the benefit of helping to revitalize Seattle’s downtown. Seattle can achieve this by:

    • Offering incentives such as tax breaks or expedited permitting processes to developers interested in converting office space into housing. Additionally, this could encourage developers to look at working on existing buildings rather than only at new development.

    • Supporting efforts to change zoning in downtown Seattle to allow for mixed-use commercial and residential zoning

    • Partnering with private developers or non-profit organizations to convert office space to housing.

    • Working with developers and community stakeholders to identify opportunities and implement policies that promote the creation of more affordable housing options in downtown and the rest of Seattle.

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