Picking Up the Pace

By HDC Executive Director, Marty Kooistra

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The Daily Journal of Commerce ran this headline on March 25th: Apartment development: you ain’t seen nothing yet.  The article outlines a new report from Dupre + Scott Apartment Advisors, and states that a record 12,000 new units will open in 2015, with another 11,000 to open in 2016. Rents of the new units are projected to be up to 40% higher than the rents of existing units. As we continue to witness first-hand, this intense level of production is not addressing the affordability and displacement challenges faced by lower income households.

The stakes are high for the cities across King County and state-wide.  The city of Kent has just been named the fastest growing city in Washington as we continue to see the broad reaching effects of the suburbanization of poverty. In contrast, the City of Sammamish has been named the highest earning city in the nation.  Clearly, we continue to have a lot of work to do to ensure all people can live with dignity in safe, healthy and affordable homes within communities of opportunity.

We are excited to see many leaders stepping up to this challenge, in Seattle, Bellevue, Shoreline, and the State Legislature to champion affordable housing during this critical moment and we need to keep this momentum going. Last week, Mayor Ed Murray stepped forward and challenged Seattle to create 50,000 new homes over the next 10 years including 20,0000 affordable homes for low and middle-income families and individuals. Earlier this month, Shoreline adopted a mandatory incentive zoning policy. And the deadline for passing HB 1223 out of the Legislature is fast approaching.

Now is the time to redouble our efforts: we need to fund the newly created National Housing Trust Fund at a significant level, we need to fully fund the State Housing Trust Fund, we need to be allowed to bond against future lodging taxes in King County to capture development opportunity, and we need to enact inclusionary housing policies across the county including implementing the linkage fee in Seattle.

We are rounding an important turn in this race; the intensity is palpable.  It is going to take every one of us, and those who have never advocated before, to keep us running fast and true.

Now is a good time to remind ourselves of the tried and true values statements related to our work:

Everyone should have the opportunity to live in a safe, decent, affordable home.

It should be possible for working people to afford housing and still have enough left over for the basics like groceries and gas and childcare.

Children deserve a chance to succeed in school and in life, which all begins with their families being able to afford a decent place to live.

It’s better for society, the environment and families if people can afford to live close to where they work.

Relish the sunshine, gather some wind, and let’s keep our sights
on our vision!