A Housed & Affordable Seattle
We’re in the 5th year of the housing and homelessness declared state of emergency in Seattle, but due to the COVID pandemic, the number of folks without housing, shelter or supportive services continues to rise. But even before the pandemic, our shelters were at capacity and we lacked adequate funding for service providers to connect and house unsheltered neighbors; the crisis has only worsened post COVID, and now we must ensure everyone living in Seattle has a place to call home.
Although we have made important progress building more units of affordable housing, our housing supply has not caught up with demand. By the year 2050, our region needs around 418,000 new housing units. Right now the average cost of a home is over $850,000. With the support from Jumpstart, we will now have $135 million a year dedicated to building housing and providing shelter to those without homes. I will continue to be the leader that will build bridges between housing advocates, businesses, labor, and Seattle communities to put those dollars into action to provide greater housing stability across Seattle. With my proven track-record of collaboration and record delivering on housing investments, we will make progress on safe, stable, and affordable housing for all by:
Building housing and shelter with the $135 million annual housing funds from JumpStart progressive revenue to fund new affordable housing units, permanent supportive housing and non-congregate shelter options.
Building faster and with greater urgency by expediting contracts to build more housing, especially for Built Green standards and those who apply community benefit agreements and high workforce/labor standards.
Deploying federal and state assistance to address the homelessness and housing affordability crisis in the near and long term and leveraging the City Council’s investment in shelter options through hotels and Tiny Homes already authorized.
Working in partnership across Seattle to rezone to allow for building a more inclusive, equitable, affordable city by permitting and promoting diverse housing options, especially in high-opportunity access areas close to grocery stores, schools, transit options and parks.
Incentivizing and allowing missing middle-housing options to create small apartment buildings, staked lofts, duplexes, triplexes, four-plexes, row houses, townhouses, co-housing options that can be bought or rented.
Providing renter and small landlord financial help through rental assistance, small landlord supports, and other rent-stabilization efforts to prevent more people from losing their home in the wake of the pandemic and due to the ongoing housing affordability state of emergency.
Spending and authorizing new funding for strategic housing acquisition including purchasing multifamily buildings, apartments, and hotels to allow for diverse, affordable housing options.
Learn more about my plans to build more housing and affordable options throughout Seattle:
Seattle’s lack of housing options and affordable homes are causing the cost of housing to grow at the second highest rate across the country. Seattle’s exclusionary zoning that keeps dense, multi-family options out of almost 85% of our city is threatening the diversity of our communities—both in terms of race and ethnicity, and in terms of middle- and low-income workers. Building more housing within the city is the key component needed to address the cost of housing, the growing homelessness crisis, stressful commuting and car pollution, and the displacement that we are seeing for too many families and elders of color. Seattle is the third highest mega-commuter region in the country. Lack of housing deteriorates community cohesion, access to resources, and has caused car emissions to be the number one pollutant in our region. The lack of affordable housing options is hurting everyone in our local economy, including small businesses and will harm our recovery efforts. I am committed to moving forward to create real solutions – from zoning, to funding, to supportive housing services – for the workers, families and seniors I speak to every day.
- Move forward with the blueprint to create 300,000 new housing units in our King County region and invest in additional publicly owned housing options now.
- Work with communities of color and those who are most at risk of gentrification to create housing and new development that is reflective of community needs.
- Use strategic acquisition to purchase buildings for housing and shelter which will help reduce empty buildings/lots on the market and incentivize meaningful development now.
Many low-income communities, communities of color, LGBTQ+ community members, and our elders in Seattle are at risk of displacement. Displacement is a growing problem and some of our historic communities and long-time Seattleites are at risk of being priced out of their homes and neighborhoods. Many in our community who were affected by historic red-lining policies are now at risk again due to being priced-out of the community and pressured-out because of the lure of selling. Displacement occurs for far too many small business owners, especially women and people of color, who are getting priced out and pushed out of small retail spaces. As your City Councilmember, I will continue to work with the community, small business owners, and community-minded, small developers to mitigate displacement. It’s not just about creating more housing options—it’s about creating vibrant communities through affordable housing options, near transit hubs, with accessible and affordable spaces for artists, small businesses, early learning centers, and community spaces.
- Expand investments in community land trusts, affordable co-housing projects, affordable housing co-ops to create more home ownership and rental options.
- Allow accessory dwelling units (ADUs) to be sold to create more options for families to live in the city and own homes and support long-time homeowners, especially from BIPOC communities who need access to financial support to build on their properties without going into debt.
- Work with Council and the Mayor to bond against our voter-approved housing levy dollars to fund more affordable development projects.
- Expedite Equitable Development Invest (EDI) grants in the community for infrastructure and cultural anchors that promote development done right and complement new housing options.
Seattle has led the way in promoting the rights of tenants, especially now during COVID when far too many are without income to pay rent. The lack of affordable housing options throughout Seattle is resulting in increased costs for renters and homeowners alike, and small landlords need assistance in addition to the rental assistance the Council has provided during this crisis as well. I will stand up for middle- and low-income homeowners and renters facing staggering increases that are forcing them out of their homes.
- Support a Tenants’ Bill of Rights to protect renters from retaliation, toxic exposure, and improve enforcement to protect against discrimination.
- Create more affordable housing to help increase the number of vacant affordable units throughout Seattle—more vacancies help reduce tenant discrimination.
- Improve access to renter’s assistance to prevent displacement and assist small landlords who depend on rental income.
COVID has only exacerbated the crisis of so many residents living unsheltered in our Seattle streets. This is a crisis for our community members without a home and a crisis for our entire population that requires immediate and compassionate solutions. It makes no sense to sweep people from one location to another when what they need is shelter and housing. It makes no sense to have our firefighters and first responders serving as the primary care providers for the unsheltered in our streets. I will continue to advance policy solutions that recognize most folks who are living unsheltered need holistic health care and case management services, many have experienced trauma, and that too many of us in Seattle are just one paycheck or health crisis away from being unsheltered ourselves. The combination of people working in insecure jobs, the lack of affordable housing options, and the unmet need for health related services all create barriers to having safe and secure housing – and those faced with homelessness has grown dramatically since COVID.
As your City Councilmember, I will work with health care providers and case managers to invest in “Housing First” models that provide a safe place to live, a warm bed, a shower, a place to rest and recover—and then get those who need it in treatment and case management. This includes supporting permanent supportive housing and shelters for individuals, women, families, and seniors who may have co-occurring disorders. I pledge to work with my colleagues in the public health and human services to enact proven best practices so we can arrive at compassionate and health-based solutions for our homeless community.
- Invest in more “Housing First” models that allow individuals to get needed housing immediately, without barriers or demands on the unsheltered individuals.
- Redirect city funding to provide additional medical providers, case managers, mental health providers, and substance abuse counselors to help get individuals the care they need.
- Create “Warm Handoff” hotlines and a 24-hour nurse line for shelters and supportive housing locations to get the targeted assistance needed: open beds, housing options, prescription refills, appointments, aftercare, wound care, etc.
- Add even 2 more Health One mobile health units to provide low-acuity treatment on demand to the unsheltered in the 5 ladder areas that our fire department serves.
- Buy apartments, hotels and other multi-family structures on the market to convert to housing and shelter options; stand up more tiny house encampments to get folks into sanctioned encampments with services.
- While we build housing and open more shelter options, scale up sanitation services, like public restrooms, handwashing and more garbage pick up around our city.