Inclusionary Housing Policies in Seattle
Our City is Growing Out of Reach
Seattle’s economy is booming. Even though the city is growing and jobs are being created, the cost of living in Seattle is rapidly outpacing wages. Data from the city’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda committee indicates that a person needs to earn $56,480 annually in order to afford rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in our city. People should be able to live, work, and build a life in a community of opportunity – yet this vision is becoming unattainable for so many hard-working people and families. We need to create more permanently affordable housing if we are going to make Seattle an affordable community for all. This will require innovative local tools.
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What Tools Do We Need?
In October 2014, the Seattle City Council passed Resolution 31551 indicating its intent to implement an affordable housing linkage fee program in Seattle. Since then, city and community leaders came together and developed a broad set of tools to help build a more affordable city. Chief among the recommendations are two inclusionary housing policies: a Commercial Linkage Fee and a Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Program. A linkage fee is a per-square-foot charge on new commercial development that mitigates the increased demand for affordable housing created by that development. For more details about affordable housing linkage fees, click here. This is a critical first step in creating a city of opportunity for everyone.
A Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Program would require multi-family housing developers to include affordable homes alongside market-rate units. If developers choose not to include affordable housing, they have the option to pay a fee to a citywide fund for affordable housing. Taken together, the commercial linkage fee and mandatory inclusionary housing program will create an estimated 6,000 new affordable homes in Seattle. This will allow thousands of people and their families to fully thrive in local communities.
Those who profit most from growth and public investment can afford to give a little back to support a diverse, equitable city. Taking this approach provides a balanced and broad set of measures to ensure that Seattle remains a vibrant, inclusive city. Economic growth and widespread opportunity can coexist. Inclusionary housing policies ask everyone to do their fair share, allowing the workers we rely on every day to afford to live near their jobs in the city.
Seattle MHA program One-Pager: A high-level overview that is useful for understanding MHA and incentive zoning generally.
Seattle MHA Program Upzone Two-Pager: Explains upzoning and the benefits it can provide to the community.