Housing Bond Proposal
Last Friday, Councilmembers Bagshaw, González, Johnson, O’Brien, Sawant, and I signed on to a proposal to fund additional affordable housing for Seattle residents. The proposal is a measured approach that adds $29 million in bond financing for housing which, if leveraged with other resources, could support additional affordable housing. The housing production would be funded by newly utilizing the City’s existing bonding capacity for housing and then paid off over a 30-year term. This $29 million would be available, in addition to the Housing Levy’s anticipated 2017 $54 million allocation.
Over the last few months, many people have written to me asking that we increase the availability of housing options, whether for people living in our parks or for people they know who are personally struggling with rising housing costs. In addition, as a part of the budget process, many people have been lobbying the City Council for 1,000 homes. The 1,000 homes proposal suggested that all funding and all committed debt service planned for the future North Seattle Police Precinct project be allocated instead for housing. Specifically, the 1,000 homes proposal uses: a. $15 million in funds created by selling the land reserved for the future North Precinct project, b. another $15 million in funds reserved to maintain the existing facility until a new precinct is built, and c. $145 million of bond capacity also reserved for the future North Precinct. I’ve written about my concerns with the proposed new North Precinct project costs. I continue to have these concerns and I am pleased that the Mayor and several Councilmembers joined in the decision earlier this year to hit “pause” on the project in order to find more cost savings.
Because I, and several of my colleagues on the Council, do ultimately recognize that the conversation about public safety facility needs for the North Precinct must continue, I support a housing proposal that recognizes our need to prioritize housing in the budget process, but does not pit Seattle’s housing needs against other citywide priorities, such as public safety needs.
Our proposal would use a small fraction, in 2017 and 2018, of the total amount of resources previously identified to pay off the debt associated with a future North Precinct Project for two years. In 2019, if we are successful in reducing the cost of the North Precinct, we could continue to use those same resources, or we could reinstate the Housing Growth Fund in 2019, using some small slice of the property tax proceeds resulting from new construction in Seattle. You may recall that I proposed a reinstatement of the Housing Growth Fund this spring. You can read more about it here. This is one option for long term permanent financing. It’s important to note that the Advisory Group to the Mayor’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) recommended both the use of the City’s bonding authority for housing as well as the reinstatement of the Housing Growth Fund.
The specific number of new units that could be created or number of existing units preserved will be further determined by working with the Council and the Office of Housing to identify the kinds of projects that we want to support. Three ideas in particular that I’m excited about pursuing are:
- Preservation – As rents rise, preservation of existing affordable housing is a priority. Investment in our housing stock is one way to preserve affordability. 1,000 buildings in lower-income and quickly gentrifying neighborhoods require expensive structural work to make them earthquake resilient. Without funds, owners may instead redevelop these properties. City investment could preserve this housing as affordable over the long term as well as making it safe.
- Home & Hope – Enterprise Community Partners is convening public and non-profit land owners and developers to accelerate the creation of housing. This bond issuance proposal could provide financing to bring these developments to reality. Using non-traditional building types on public properties, like manufactured steel modules being used in Seattle by Compass Housing Alliance and designed by OneBuild, a Seattle-based modular-housing supplier, we could provide financing for a housing option that doesn’t take the same long period of time to permit and build as a traditional housing project (which typically takes about three years). Read here for more.
- Preservation of homeownership, while creating long term affordability – Cities across the country are working towards buying “non-performing loans” from Fannie and Freddie Mac. These are loans held by individuals facing foreclosure. In Seattle we know that there are approximately 270 non-performing loans. My office, as well as community partners, have been discussing a pilot with Fannie and Freddie Mac to save some of those loans, require repayment by owners, and in doing so, preserve long term homeownership opportunities for people who may not otherwise have it. I wrote about this issue here earlier this year.
I am thankful for the advocacy that has encouraged the City to use its bonding authority to support the production of affordable housing both as part of the 1,000 Homes Proposal as well as that from last year’s Housing Affordability, and Livability Agenda Recommendations. There are details yet to work through, but this proposal is a sign of the Council’s common desire to create new housing solutions in this year’s budget deliberations.
This week in the budget
Yesterday the Council’s Budget Committee met to hear potential revisions to the “Initial Balancing Package” for the 2017-2018 City budget proposed by the Chair of the Committee. Three sponsors were needed for items to appear on the agenda. You can see a list of potential changes on the November 9 agenda linked here.
Next week, on Wednesday the 16th, the Budget Committee will vote on revisions to the Mayor’s proposed budget. The starting point for votes will be a “Revised Balancing Package” developed by Budget Committee Chair Burgess. This new Revised Balancing Package differs from the balancing package Chair Burgess proposed last week in that this one will consider the additional proposals Councilmembers made this week (that I wrote about in last week’s blog post). On Wednesday, Councilmembers can move to amend the new Revised Balancing Package, but all proposed changes must be balanced with cuts, in order to be revenue-neutral.
In addition to the Housing Bond proposal mentioned above, other items I’ve been working on since last week’s blog post include:
- Statement of Legislative Intent for a Terminal 5 Quiet Zone. The Port of Seattle is considering improvements to T 5 to modernize the facility. As part of this project, the Port is considering implementation of shore power, a T 5 quiet zone, and broadband back-up alarms to reduce the noise emitted from T 5.
This Statement of Legislative Intent (SLI) requests that SDOT work with the Port of Seattle, the Federal Railway Administration, and the railway companies doing business at T 5, to extend the quiet zone from T 5 to the Delridge Way/W Marginal Way intersection.
- Capital project oversight work program for Budget Committee to adopt Resolution 31720, establishing a capital project oversight work program for the Budget Committee in 2017. This fulfills the intent of the press release Councilmember Johnson and I released during the discussion of the North Precinct project.
- And, in conjunction with Councilmember González, the creation of a special task force on South Park public safety to formulate and report to Council recommendations regarding the public safety and vitality of that neighborhood. It is our hope that they would identify strategies for:
- A new model of neighborhood policing, which will build on the micro-policing plans initiated by Chief Katherine O’Toole and reflect the unique situations or dynamics of the neighborhood; and
- A culturally and linguistically responsive data-driven approach to improving the City’s relations to and effectiveness with the South Park neighborhood.
Additional information, including an archive of budget documents from 2009 to the present, is available at the Council’s Budget website. Meetings can be viewed live on the Seattle Channel’s live feed; past meetings can be viewed at the Seattle Channel’s Budget Committee archive.
Election Results Statement
Below is my statement on the election results after the passage of Initiative 124 (hotel workers), Sound Transit 3 (ST3/Light Rail), Initiative 1433 (statewide minimum wage, and paid sick & safe leave), and other electoral victories that serve to improve the quality of life for Seattle and Washington workers:
The heart-wrenching national news regarding the Presidency, House of Representatives, and Senate is hard to understand and difficult to accept, but makes it all the more important to celebrate our local wins for working people.
Affordability in Seattle has never been more of a challenge, but tonight we can celebrate that our voters provided some needed relief for lower-wage workers by supporting issues and electing leaders who have our best interests in-mind and at-heart.
The job security afforded by I-124 means that women and others working in the hospitality business can build better lives. Increased transit availability can reduce transportation costs, making overall living expenses lower for our communities that have too often been left out, or left behind. Raising the statewide minimum wage and providing sick leave will allow people throughout the State to improve their own conditions and to contribute to our economy.
I went to bed Tuesday night asking myself what I would tell my bi-racial grandchildren about this election. My husband asked for advice about what to tell his two daughters. Educators in Seattle schools have told me that they had to comfort children who came to school crying on Wednesday, asking if their families would be split apart. The answers to these question are found in the results of our local elections. We can tell our daughters and the children in our lives who are people of color and from immigrant families that their community does care about their lives and their future. We are able to pursue change when we have hope and, though justice may seem very, very far away this week, we restore hope with love. I believe we have to start loving one another – not just those closest to us, but all members of our community – more fiercely than ever before.
Moving forward, we must collaborate and strategize with our community partners on how we can best support one another and mobilize most effectively to maintain our hard fought wins that help women, people of color, immigrants, and LGBTQ individuals.
West Seattle Helpline Dinner and Auction
Please join us for the 7th Annual Neighbor Helping Neighbors Dinner & Auction on Friday, November 11th! The West Seattle Helpline provides critically important emergency assistance for at-risk families in here in our community.
This event helps raise funds and awareness to support their work. The night will include a cocktail reception, silent auction, live music, three-course meal, a brief event program, a live auction, AND the famously-competitive Neighbors Helping Neighbors dessert dash!
November 11th, 2016 from 6:00-9:00pm
The Hall at Fauntleroy
9131 California Ave SW
To reserve seats or for more information, visit http://wshelpline.org/events/nhn2016/
Delridge Rapid Ride survey
The Move Seattle Levy passed by Seattle voters last year included funding for a potential new Rapid Ride line on Delridge. SDOT has posted a survey to get your thoughts about this—you can take the survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DelridgeRR1.
Source of Income Discrimination (SOID) Legislation Rulemaking Public Comment
The Seattle Office of Civil Rights (SOCR) invites you to join them at an upcoming public meeting to discuss the development of administrative rules necessary to implement the SOID bill passed by the City Council in August. To read more about that bill see my blog post and SOCR’s Frequently Asked Questions.
Thursday, November 17th at 7pm at the Bitter Lake Community Center, 13035 Linden Ave N, Seattle, WA 98133. You can provide in-person or written public comment on the proposed rules. Childcare and language interpretation will be provided at each meeting. To request an accommodation or language interpretation please call (206) 684-4514.