by Kevin Schofield
This weekend’s “long read” is a discussion of what happens to rental prices when developers build new market-rate housing.
There has been a raging debate the past several years among economists and housing experts on what happens when new market-rate housing is built in a neighborhood: Do rents in neighboring buildings go up, or do they go down? There are two schools of thought on this.
Continue reading Weekend Long Reads: What Drives the Cost of Housing?
by Samira George
(This article originally appeared in Real Change and has been reprinted under an agreement.)
“I used to live in those apartments,” Dee Powers, a 38-year-old Seattleite, said wistfully, “but I got priced out.” Standing in Seattle’s Occidental Park, coffee in hand, Powers stared at the distinctive white point of Smith Tower where across the street rests the old apartment Powers called home for five years.
The burst of the housing bubble in 2008 allowed Powers to rent a downtown apartment for $650 a month, but in 2015 they came home to a 60-day notice and a warning of a 40% rent increase. Since then, Powers has called a 40-foot RV home.
On April 13, five vehicle residents gathered at an action meeting in Occidental Park to share their unique car-living experiences in a city with a checkered past. All of the residents, including Powers, have either lived or are currently roaming Seattle’s streets in vehicles.
Continue reading Ticketing Vehicle Residents Is Eviction and Happening, Despite COVID-19 Moratoriums
by Leo Brine
(This article originally appeared on PubliCola and has been reprinted under an agreement.)
As the legislative session in Olympia ended this week, Democratic lawmakers celebrated the list of historic, progressive bills they passed, such as a capital gains tax, a new clean fuels standard, and police reform.
But as usual, legislators’ attempt to increase access to affordable housing by changing outdated zoning rules ended in disappointment.
Continue reading House Democrats Gut Pro-Renter Backyard Cottage Bill
by Ashley Archibald
A state commission that doles out debt financing for affordable housing projects is working with community members on reform after criticism that its method for allocating needed money leaves out communities of color.
The current point system used by the Washington State Housing Finance Committee (WSHFC) to assign bonds that help finance affordable housing projects has no allowance for Black- or POC-led projects and promotes less expensive studio and one-bedroom units that don’t work for larger families, critics said in a Feb. 25 meeting in which roughly 80 community members, organized by King County Equity Now, called in to express their anger and frustration.
The process ultimately excludes Black communities from access to appropriate affordable housing and homeownership and also Black developers and construction managers from participating in the government-backed program, said K. Wyking Garrett, president of the Africatown Community Land Trust (ACLT). ACLT had applied for financing for its Africatown Plaza project in the January round but did not receive funding.
Continue reading Housing Finance Commission Biased Against Black-Led Projects, Say Community Groups
by Chamidae Ford
Tosh Sharp, a civil service commissioner and Tukwila community leader, recently announced his campaign for Tukwila City Council seat one. He is currently unopposed.
Sharp launched his campaign because of his desire to create change in Tukwila that he feels would benefit the residents of the increasingly diverse city.
“Historically, I’ve been just a man of action,” Sharp said. “I know that sounds like a cliche, but the way that I am, when I see something that needs to be fixed, or it needs to be addressed, I kind of just do it.”
Continue reading Tosh Sharp Announces Community-Focused Campaign for Tukwila City Council
by Chamidae Ford
Nikkita Oliver has made a name for themselves in Seattle and beyond. The lawyer, artist, professor, and abolitionist is bringing their many skills to the race for Position 9, one of two at-large seats on the Seattle City Council.
On Mar. 10, Oliver announced their candidacy, a grassroots campaign centered around mutual aid that prioritizes providing community members with basic needs. This is not Oliver’s first attempt at a bid for public office — in 2017 they began their political career with a run for mayor, narrowly missing out on the general election.
Oliver is currently the executive director of Creative Justice, an organization that focuses on providing art therapy as an alternative to incarceration. They are also deeply involved in Seattle’s Black Lives Matter movement and have worked closely with organizations to serve marginalized communities.
Continue reading Q&A: Nikkita Oliver Focuses on Mutual Aid, Community in Campaign for City Council
by Mark Van Streefkerk
Last Wednesday, April 29, tenants at Bellwether Housing Kingway Apartments & Juneau Townhomes submitted a petition signed by 100 residents across the two adjacent affordable housing complexes, making several demands of their landlord, Bellwether Housing. The demands included rent reduction or forgiveness and a fair and transparent payment plan in light of COVID-19 shutdowns. Bellwether responded on Friday, May 1, stating they were unable to decrease or forgive rent and they reiterated previous policies outlined in a letter issued to residents on March 19. The March 19 letter, from Director of Property Management Michelle Hawley and Resident Services Manager Elliot Swanson, said that back rent accrued during the government shutdowns could be paid on a payment plan that wouldn’t go into effect until normal operations resumed and that residents would have at least nine months to pay any back rent that might have accrued due to coronavirus-related unemployment.
Continue reading Tenants Organize For Fair Treatment at Bellwether Housing Kingway Apartments & Juneau Townhomes
What is rent control, how does it work, and could it benefit Seattle?
by Natalie Barry
Earlier this spring, Kshama Sawant and the Seattle Renters Commission repeated calls for a citywide rent control ordinance and economic eviction assistance. In letters to the City Council, they specifically called for a repeal of the rent control ban on the city level, and an extension of the 30-day rent increase notice period, requiring landlords to inform tenants 180 days before increasing rents.
Continue reading OPINION: Understanding Rent Control
by Zachary DeWolf and Dylan Cate
As we examine our own stories and feelings about growth across our city, a particular quote from Dr. Maya Angelou keeps coming to the surface: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Continue reading OPINION: Which Seattle Will You Choose?