Mayor Ed Murray announced Dec. 9 the City of Seattle’s $45 million investment in affordable housing development through the Office of Housing’s Rental Housing Program. Once completed, 809 apartments will house low-income families, youths, seniors, and single adults, some of whom would otherwise be homeless.
The “announcement makes a major contribution to building 20,000 affordable homes over 10 years, my goal under our City’s housing affordability agenda,” stated Mayor Murray. “Our 30-year commitment to the Seattle Housing Levy helps keep Seattle affordable. This historic investment ensures that hundreds of people in our community – from working families to those who have experienced homelessness – will have the stability of an affordable home.”
The 2015 award is the largest ever annual investment in affordable housing by the City.
Last year, the Office of Housing awarded $22 million. In his 2015 State of the City address, Murray pledged $35 million to support the recommendations of Seattle’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) advisory committee.
This year’s funding level is due to significant contributions from developers who have benefited from the recent building boom. Developers who participate in Incentive Zoning provide payments to the City’s affordable housing fund, which the Office of Housing uses to leverage other state and federal funding.
The Seattle Housing Levy remains the most consistent and important funding source for affordable housing in Seattle. Starting in 1981, voters have approved one bond and four levies for a total of $388 million dollars. These funds have been instrumental in providing more than 12,000 income- and rent-restricted apartments in Seattle. The Seattle Housing Levy is up for renewal in 2016.
“This year’s funding awards show how the City makes a sound investment of public funding, whether it comes from the voters or through development,” said Steve Walker, director of the Office of Housing. “And by collaborating with other funders we are able to leverage $4.00 of state and federal funding for every dollar of Seattle’s public investment.”
The HALA committee recommended expanding programs, like the Seattle Housing Levy, that have a history of success and creating new resources and programs to increase affordable housing in the city. The City Council has already adopted the Mandatory Housing Affordability program framework that will require all new commercial and multi-family residential development to support affordable housing through building affordable apartments or paying into an affordable housing fund. Mayor Murray has also proposed expanding the Seattle Housing Levy when it is up for renewal in 2016.
“It was clear to the HALA committee from the start that the Seattle Housing Levy is a great tool for affordable housing,” stated David Wertheimer, co-chair of the HALA committee. “…We see how combining Levy dollars with those that come from the private development happening in our community can have huge dividends.” (end)