Affordable Workforce Housing
On October 20, 2014, the Seattle City Council moved forward with a plan to create an affordable housing linkage fee to preserve and create affordable housing in Seattle. The resolution directs City departments to develop legislation whereby new construction in multi-family and commercial zones would mitigate the cost of increasing rents by funding housing affordable to those households making $45,000 - $65,000 per year, which is 60% - 80% of area median income (AMI).
"If we want Seattle to be an inclusive city for people of all incomes, then we need to see more housing produced that's affordable to more people. Up until this point, the market has clearly not given us the housing we need," said Councilmember Mike O'Brien, chair of the Planning, Land Use and Sustainability Committee and the legislation's sponsor.
Developers could either pay a per-square-foot fee, which is variable based on project's location in the city, or avoid the fee by dedicating at least 3% - 5% of the units in their project to households making less than 80% AMI. The money generated from fees would be invested in workforce housing.
"Our expert economic consultants suggest that at this fee level, development would absorb the fees without constricting new supply or significantly raising rents," Councilmember O'Brien added.
The following map illustrates where the linkage fee would be applied in multi-family and commercial development in the city.
Draft legislation for Council consideration is expected by late June / early July, 2015.. The final legislation is anticipated to gradually phase-in over a three year period and would not affect existing projects or new projects with permit applications already submitted.
Additional background information about O'Brien's proposal for an Affordable Housing Linkage Fee in Seattle is available online. Informational resources and reports that helped inform Council's perspective is available here.
Questions: Contact Esther Handy in Councilmember Mike O'Brien's Office: firstname.lastname@example.org, 206-684-8800.