As a second part of his “Homes Within Reach” strategy, Mayor Greg Nickels announced a proposal to extend to other neighborhoods throughout the city a successful program that is creating hundreds of affordable homes in the downtown area.
“The troubling fact is that today’s housing market is rising beyond the reach of too many people and we need new tools to keep Seattle an affordable place to live, work and raise families,” Nickels said. “What I’m proposing today will help create more needed homes for working families and ensure that the neighborhoods that accept growth also benefit from the growth.”
The mayor’s proposal doesn’t change any existing neighborhood zoning, but would be incorporated whenever a significant zoning change is adopted in the future. If approved, the program would become part of zoning changes now under consideration for the south downtown, South Lake Union and Dravus areas.
Under the program, developers who take advantage of an increase to height and density limits would be required to either build affordable units as part of their residential project, or pay into a fund to create housing affordable for working families and other neighborhood amenities, such as parks and open space.
As construction costs soar, developers have been looking for ways to make housing affordable to a wider group of people. “We commend the mayor for taking steps that will provide the flexibility to meet our needs as developers while giving us the opportunity to contribute to, or even directly provide, much needed housing for Seattle’s moderate-wage workers,” said Hal Ferris, principal with Lorig Associates LLC.
“Zoning incentives for affordable housing are an important tool to provide homes for working people, such as nurses and teachers, who may not qualify for the city’s subsidy programs yet who are having difficulty finding housing within the city limits,” said Adrienne Quinn, director of Seattle’s Office of Housing,
In July, the mayor announced part one of his Seattle “Homes Within Reach” plan, which would extend the existing multifamily incentive program to all urban villages to help a broader range of people find affordable apartments or condos in more neighborhoods across Seattle.
In part one, which the City Council is currently reviewing, the program will provide a 12-year tax exemption on the residential portion of any new apartment building in which 20 to 25 percent of the units are set aside for individuals earning up to $49,000 or families earning up to $62,300.