"I've been living in a mother-in-law apartment since graduate school and it has been a great partnership between myself and the homeowner. I have affordable housing and she's able to bring in additional income, and we both live a neighborhood that we love."
The housing situation in Seattle is currently unable to meet the demands in the nation’s fastest growing city. We met our 10-year growth target in 5 years. We’re also expected to grow by 115,000 residents over the next 20 years. Today, there are people of all ages struggling to either find a place to live or be able to pay their rent.
Seattle is experiencing growing pains and we can do more to alleviate the pain faced by residents. The path forward on housing affordability won’t be easy, but it can be done and it will take a myriad of solutions.
Since graduate school I have lived in cottages and mother-in-law apartments in Wedgwood and Wallingford. I have had to do this because I cannot afford anything more. I know that so many individuals in this district and city-wide are facing the same problems paying back college loans or simply paying rent. I have seen it firsthand in my own life and in the lives of others through my volunteer experience at the Wallingford Community Council, United Way, and Plymouth Housing Group. We need to act now to address the housing problems facing our district and our city.
I have been endorsed every boardmember of the Wallingford Community Council and the King County Young Democrats because I can AND WILL engage our neighborhoods to address this challenge.
We have a housing shortage, and I’d like to focus on growth and development strategies near light rail and transit (Transit Oriented Development) while also working with neighborhoods to preserve what we most love about Seattle. Here's how we're going to do it:
- Revise Regulation around Accessory Dwelling Units: Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) provide another way for our citizens to gain access to affordable housing. I have lived in a mother-in-law apartment since graduate school and it has been a win-win partnership between the homeowner and myself. The use of ADUs is a good solution for renters and for homeowners. In our district there is a large portion of residents — approximately 20,000 seniors and 45,000 UW students — that live on fixed incomes and ADUs provide an opportunity to create win-win partnerships for affordable housing, similarly to how my landlord and I live. It's time that we revise regulations around ADUs to create more, and provide low-cost loans to individuals seeking to make housing for others within their own homes.
- Build More Affordable Housing Units on Some Public Lands: Affordable housing is vital to the success of our community. Investing in affordable housing in our community plays a significant role in stimulating economic development and creating better opportunities for individuals who have a hard time making ends meet. This is a strategy that has broad appeal to many of the stakeholders, yet has not been actively pursued. To pay for this investment, we need to issue bonds to fund affordable housing.
Further Study a Lid Over I-5: Two professors from the University of Washington have proposed a lid over I-5 between 43rd and 50th, and I want to put some energy behind this idea. The creation of a lid over I-5 can enable us to create more affordable housing in Seattle, better connect the neighborhoods for safer walking and biking, and improve our tree canopy coverage. A lid can create 14 acres for new affordable housing that is near transit, reducing the pressure neighborhoods face to take on growth.
Expand the Multifamily Property Exemption (MFTE) Program Near Existing Light Rail Stations: The light rail system was a multi-billion dollar investment, and the city years ago made a huge error in not creating more affordable housing near this investment. The time is now to act to expand our Multifamily Property Exemption Program near existing light rail stations so that more families can live in an affordable place and have access to reliable to transit.
Working With Our Regional Partners: Growth is happening so rapidly in our city that we haven't done the best job in engaging our regional partners to better integrate our transit strategy with our housing development strategy. The largest expense for any working family or individual is housing, and in close second is transportation. Better integration of our strategies with our regional partners can maximize our return on our public investments in light rail for working families. This can also alleviate some of the congestion on our roads and relieve pressure on our infrastructure.
We need to expand our investment in affordable housing to make our area accessible to all. What are your thoughts? I want to hear your ideas, questions and experiences regarding affordable housing. Let me know using our contact us page.