On March 20, Mayor Jenny A. Durkan signed into law the ordinance to implement Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) in Seattle’s 27 urban villages and all other commercial and multifamily residential areas.
On March 18, after more than a year of Council meetings and public hearings, the City Council unanimously approved implementing MHA’s affordable housing requirements citywide. The ordinance will generate an estimated 3,000 new affordable homes over 10 years, doubling the number of anticipated new affordable homes created through the 2017 implementation on new developments in the University District, Downtown, South Lake Union, Chinatown–International District, along 23rd Avenue in the Central Area, and Uptown, helping the City to meet the 10-year goal of 6,000 new affordable homes generated by MHA.
“Today, Seattle took another step toward more affordable housing choices and a more affordable, welcoming city for all,” said Durkan. “We need more affordable housing as quickly as possible because too many people are being priced out of our city. We want a city where people who work in Seattle can afford to live and raise a family in Seattle. This legislation is one way we can build a more affordable future for all.”
Durkan also said that there is still a lot of work to do to make Seattle more affordable and build more affordable housing options. She urged continuing investments in the housing levy, renewing the Multifamily Tax Exemption program, investing in parks and green spaces, and continuing to have critical investment from state, regional, and federal partners.
MHA requirements vary based on housing costs in each area of the city and the scale of the zoning change, with higher MHA requirements in areas with higher housing costs and larger zoning changes. With the performance option, between 5 percent and 11 percent of homes in new multifamily residential buildings are reserved for low-income households. With the payment option, development will contribute between $5.00 and $32.75 per square foot.
“MHA has been shaped by years of community input and engagement. For three years running, my days have been filled with discussing how to reach our goal of creating more units of housing in the next decade. As such, I view MHA as one of the primary strategies to create more affordable housing, as well as address the legacy of ‘redlining,’” said Councilmember Rob Johnson (District 4, Northeast Seattle).