by J Seattle
(This article includes reporting by Capitol Hill Seattle Blog)
Seattle has announced its largest ever annual round of city funding for affordable housing with $110 million going to help start 13 projects across the city including five new buildings in Rainier Beach, Beacon Hill, and Othello that will create 861 affordable units in South Seattle.
“Seattle is committed to investing in housing and services that help advance our shared priorities of equity and inclusion,” Mayor Jenny Durkan said in her announcement of the annual funding roster powered by the 2016 housing levy. “With investments in both permanent supportive housing for individuals experiencing homelessness, affordable housing for seniors, and housing for working families, we are addressing our affordability crisis.”
The millions in city funding are part of the recipe required for nonprofit developers to piece together the dollars required to create new affordable projects in the city. With units reserved for those meeting affordable housing income thresholds and rents likely some 30% or more below area averages, demand will reach thousands of prospective tenants.
The 2019 roster of investments announced Monday will also include three Rainier Beach Housing-involved projects.
In the Central District, Africatown Plaza, backed by Capital Hill Housing and community empowerment group Africatown, also made the funding cut with a city boost to the 23rd Ave development being planned to create 130 units of affordable housing plus street-level retail and commercial space at 23rd and Spring on the same block as the market-rate Midtown: Public Square currently under construction in this core area of the Central District. Africatown and Capitol Hill Housing also worked together on the Liberty Bank Building which now provides more than 100 affordable homes at 24th and Union.
The city announcement on the funding did not include individual dollar amounts for each project. Typically, nonprofit developers will need to mix federal, state, and City of Seattle funding, tax credit equity, loans, and capital campaigns to open their developments.
While its efforts to address homelessness on a regional level seem to be currently mired, Seattle has been active in increasing funding for affordable development including an effort to take advantage of a new state law allowing municipalities to use sales tax revenue to fund affordable housing. The sales tax legislation was made possible by a new state law, co-sponsored by 43rd Legislative District Rep. Nicole Macri, that Seattle officials advocated for that allows individual cities to retain more funds from sales tax revenue to develop affordable housing.
Durkan’s 2020 budget push, meanwhile, included some $78.2 million in new housing and anti-displacement investments, $15 million to create a revolving Equitable Development Initiative acquisition loan fund, $15 million to increase investments in permanently affordable homeownership and $6 million for a new financing tool to create more affordable accessory dwelling units like backyard cottages and in-law apartments for low- and middle-income homeowners.
Officials expect nearly 5,000 new affordable homes to become available in Seattle between now and 2022.