FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 9/19/2014
Licata Calls on Feds to Intercede on Seattle Housing Authority Rent Proposal
Councilmember concerned proposal to raise rent may put affordable housing programs out of reach
SEATTLE – Councilmember Nick Licata sent a letter to the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) yesterday, requesting that the department adopt new emergency administrative rules for Public Housing Authorities, including Seattle Housing Authority (SHA), when trying to implement a flat rent policy based on unit size rather than the current policy of setting rent based upon income.
The letter also requests that HUD require SHA to conduct a fair housing assessment to determine the potentially discriminatory impact of its proposed “Stepping Forward” program. SHA has not conducted such an assessment.
“People should certainly strive to increase their incomes, but when they can’t, homelessness shouldn’t be the consequence,” said Councilmember Nick Licata.
SHA’s “Stepping Forward” program would affect “work-able” tenants who live in SHA-owned housing as well as “work-able” tenants who live in private or non-profit housing but pay a reduced rent because they participate in an SHA program. Families working fulltime will be forced to leave the program if they cannot increase their income. SHA predicts that families will eventually need to earn $16 an hour in year 6 of the plan and $22-$26 per hour in subsequent years to afford rent at SHA.
On Monday, September 22, at 9:30 am, SHA will be coming to the City Council to answer Councilmembers’ questions about the proposal. Jonathan Grant of the Tenants Union will also be on hand to talk about the work they are doing with residents of SHA housing and tenants who participate in SHA programs. The public is encouraged to attend or watch live via Seattle Channel at http://www.seattle.gov/councillive