ED Corner

Seeing the Forest through the Trees

EDCornerSeattleShotBy HDC Executive Director, Marty Kooistra

If you caught the article in Crosscut about the opening of Anthem apartments, the new mixed-income building in Yesler Terrace, it might have left you feeling a little gloomy about the outlook of affordable housing in Seattle: a reminder of the real uphill battle we continue to fight.  Instead of being discouraged, let it serve as a reminder of the unique challenge we must address: finding ways to educate community members on the facts about affordable housing needs and solutions while still inspiring a positive mindset. One of our key tasks is to translate the jargon and bickering into community and people; income levels and unit counts mean residents able to provide for their families, children with better grades, reduced congestion and pollution, and maybe even a sense of hope and renewed inspiration.  So let’s make sure we leverage every chance we have to engage family, friends, and co-workers in a real and illuminating conversation about our affordable housing crisis.

As noted in this clarifying piece from the Mayor, we must stay committed to providing affordable homes BOTH for our most vulnerable community members, earning very low wages or experiencing homelessness, but also the many others who also make our city great— nurses, teachers, or administrative professionals, to name a few.  The Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) Committee remains hard at work, dedicated to delivering a toolbox full of ripe strategies that will have universal buy in and focus and address needs across this income spectrum. In less than a month we will have a glimpse into what is in that toolbox.

With the Seattle Mayor’s commitment to housing a community of diverse incomes spelled out in real numbers it should become easier for everyone to focus on implementing new and innovative methods that can produce and preserve housing at three times the current pace.  It is going to take a rather large and diverse set of tools to support this acceleration.  It is also going to require a way of thinking that allows us to break free of simply trying to do more of the same.  Neither requirement will come to us without serious sweat and tussle.

And, yes, even after the HALA recommendations are reported, there will still be more deciphering of numbers of homes, income breakdowns, costs, and all that goes into measuring our progress toward the HALA goals.  But we are up to the challenge.  As always, you – the people who do this work and see the impact every day – will draw upon your successes, your challenges, and your hopes, and do the work we have chosen to do.