New Legislation Allows Uptick in Affordable Housing, Though City Far Behind Current Target

King County recently passed new legislation regarding affordable housing, paving the way for the addition of nearly 900 new units during the following five years. Due to measures taken by the State Legislature, the county will now be able to issue workforce-housing bonds worth up to $45 million. The bonds will be backed by the local hotel tax, and will support homes located within at least a half-mile from a transit station.

King County recently passed new legislation regarding affordable housing, paving the way for the addition of nearly 900 units over the next five years. Due to measures taken by the state legislature, the county will now be able to issue workforce-housing bonds worth as much as $45 million. The bonds will be backed by the local hotel tax, and will support homes located within at least a half-mile from a transit station.

The new measure will allow willing developers to borrow money from the fund until they can obtain construction financing for their projects. Money will also be available for affordable housing preservation projects. The measure will increase by nine percent the amount of King County housing for households earning from $18,000 to $60,000 per year.

The supply of affordable housing in King County has diminished due to the market’s increased appeal to investors. According to The Seattle Times, with new investors pushing into the Seattle market in recent years, unit rent rates have increased to match the rapid growth of prices in the Puget Sound area, effectively making them inaccessible to those categorized as working-poor.

Mayor Ed Murray

With the current average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in King County at $1,266 per month, the Seattle Housing Authority’s housing voucher lottery program is also feeling pressure. More than 19,000 people have registered for the chance to get one of the 2,500 Section 8 housing vouchers. These vouchers allow those making less than the average income to lease units in privately owned housing in Seattle.

Mayor Murray recently directed the Housing Affordability and Livability Advisory Committee to meet a goal of adding 50,000 new housing units in Seattle over the coming decade. Of those, 20,000 must be income-restricted affordable residences for individuals and families earning less than 80 percent of the AMI. The current income-restricted housing pipeline ensures around 700 units per year, far from the goal drawn out by Mayor Murray.

Image courtesy of seattle.gov