Mike McGinn, Mayor
1/18/2011 3:23:00 PM
Todd Burley (206) 684-5081
City awards nearly $23 million to create and preserve affordable rental housing for seniors, working families and homeless individuals
First rental housing awards from the voter-approved 2009 Seattle Housing Levy will create and preserve more than 650 affordable apartments throughout the city
SEATTLE -The Office of Housing today announced nearly $23 million in capital funding, divvied up amongst eight nonprofit housing developers, to create and preserve affordable apartments. The investment will help create 375 new units for seniors, homeless individuals and low-income working families, plus rehabilitate another 291 apartments currently home to seniors and people with disabilities.
"Having housing throughout our community that is affordable to people from all walks of life, people with varying economic situations, is what makes our neighborhoods vibrant and inviting," said Deputy Mayor Darryl Smith. "This funding will help hundreds of seniors and people with disabilities remain in their current homes, put roofs over the heads of so many who are currently living on the street, plus provide new opportunities for our hard-working, low- to moderate-wage neighbors."
Most of the funding comes from the Seattle Housing Levy, which was overwhelmingly approved for renewal by 66% of Seattle voters in November 2009. The awards, the first for rental housing from the seven-year $145 million levy administered by the Office of Housing, are the culmination of a 2010 funding process.
"We really need to recognize the generosity of Seattle voters. Despite the recession, they voted to continue taxing themselves to ensure that the less fortunate among us, those with the fewest resources, still have access to safe, decent affordable housing," said City Councilmember Nick Licata, chair of the Council's Housing, Human Services, Health & Culture Committee. "This compassion is one of the things that makes Seattle a great place to live."
In this funding round, every dollar contributed by OH will leverage nearly $4 of additional non-city funding. The funded projects represent an estimated total of almost $110 million in capital that
will be a major investment in neighborhoods from North Seattle to Capitol Hill to the Rainier Valley, revitalizing the communities and providing living-wage jobs.
The economic recession has made efforts to expand the city's stock of affordable housing that much more necessary and immediate. Yet the economy also has offered opportunities to stretch dollars further because of lower costs for land and construction. Add in additional levy dollars, and OH had about 65% more funding available to award than in past rounds, funding more units than in 2008 and 2009 combined.
"With increased funding available, we were able to support multiple projects that will serve a wide range of populations, all facing a growing need for affordable housing," said Rick Hooper, Acting Director of the Office of Housing.
Seniors and people living with disabilities
OH is providing funding to rehabilitate and preserve five buildings that currently house seniors and people with disabilities, plus construct one new building that will serve formerly homeless seniors.
Affordable housing for seniors is currently in high demand, and the need will grow exponentially, particularly as baby boomers age and people live longer. The population of seniors in King County is estimated to double to 480,000 by 2025, becoming 23 percent of the county's population. According to the 2009 King County Report, Quiet Crisis: Age Wave Maxes Out Affordable Housing, King County, 2008-2025, more than 4,000 senior renters in Seattle pay more than 50 percent of their income for housing.
OH is providing funding for the construction of three new apartment buildings with a total of 232 units that will house formerly homeless individuals while providing onsite supportive services to help them stabilize their lives.
The City of Seattle is a co-founder of the Committee to End Homelessness in King County and endorser of the Ten-Year Plan, adopted in 2005. As of June 2010, Seattle had provided funding to secure 2,568 units of housing for formerly homeless adults, through construction of new units or by providing operating and rental subsidies in existing units. Despite these gains, the 2010 One Night Count of people without shelter found 1,986 people in Seattle sleeping outside—on benches, in cars, under roadways and in tents.
Low- to moderate-income workers
OH is funding three new buildings that will be affordable to households earning about half of the area median income—roughly $30,000 to $40,000 per year—like office assistants, people who work in the food service, hotel and retail industries, plus working artists.
Wages are remaining flat while market rents continue to rise, meaning low-wage working individuals and families face the possibility of being priced out of the communities where they work. According to a fall 2010 survey by Dupre + Scott Apartment Advisors, tightening of the rental market is expected to continue in the foreseeable future, with rents projected to increase 7% through December 2012.
These workforce housing projects also meet the City's goal of siting housing near mass transit, both bus rapid ride and Link Light Rail. One development will be located next door to the Mt. Baker Light Rail Station; another will be two blocks from the Columbia City station; and a third will be located within walking distance of the future Capitol Hill station and First Hill Streetcar.
"Development near transit not only responds to broader goals to reduce congestion and environmental impacts, but it also means future residents of these apartments will have lower transportation costs in addition to affordable rents," said Smith.
The funding announcements were made today at Cyndy's Pancake House on Aurora Avenue North, the future location of one of the developments for formerly homeless individuals, as well as one of the future routes of Metro Transit's RapidRide bus service. RapidRide is being designed to keep people moving quickly throughout the day in heavily used transit corridors. The new apartments should open around the time the Aurora RapidRide line begins operating in 2013.
THE HOUSING DEVELOPMENTS
Aurora Supportive Housing
The Downtown Emergency Service Center will receive up to $4.5 million for Aurora Supportive Housing, to be constructed at the site of Cyndy's Pancake House on the corner of Aurora Avenue North and North 105th Street. This permanent housing will serve highly vulnerable homeless individuals onsite, with supportive services—such as mental health and medical support or substance abuse counseling—tailored to residents' needs.
Jackson Street Apartments
The Low Income Housing Institute will receive up to $2.76 million for the Jackson Street Apartments, to be located at 20th Avenue South and South Jackson Street, which will serve low-income seniors 55 and older. The building will include 45 apartments for formerly homeless individuals, plus 15 apartments for seniors earning up to about $30,000-$34,000 per year, and one onsite manager's unit. The formerly homeless tenants will receive onsite services tailored to their individual needs.
Plymouth Housing Group will receive up to $2.23 million for the construction the Pontius Apartments, which will be located in the Cascade/South Lake Union neighborhood on Pontius Avenue North, between John and Thomas streets. The building will provide 81 studio apartments for chronically homeless single men and women, plus three units for resident managers. Pontius Apartments will serve individuals with a history of long-term homelessness who have faced major obstacles to housing.
Artspace Mt. Baker Lofts
Artspace will receive up to $1.8 million for the Mt. Baker Lofts, to be constructed at the former site of a Firestone Complete Auto Care next to the Mt. Baker Light Rail Station along Rainier Avenue South. The project will include 51 units designed to meet the needs of artists and their families with annual incomes ranging from about $18,000-$36,000 for an individual, about $20,000-$41,000 for a two-person household. The project will include set asides for large families and disabled individuals. With its proximity to Light Rail and bus service, the Mt. Baker Lofts is considered a Transit Oriented Development (TOD), and therefore will have ample bicycle storage in lieu of an automobile parking lot. The building will also include commercial space on the ground floor, plus a large community room with kitchen areas available to residents for exhibitions, performances, rehearsals and community gatherings.
Housing Resources Group will receive up to $2.29 million for Sunset House, an existing 82-unit apartment building in Belltown. Built in 1981, Sunset House is home to seniors and people with disabilities who largely earn less than 30% of area median income ($18,000 per year for an individual), with commercial store fronts at the street level. A HUD contract has kept the rents affordable to date, but with that due to expire in March 2011 the building could have been sold and potentially converted to market-rate housing, thus displacing its current tenants. The funding will help HRG acquire and rehabilitate the building, while preserving the affordability for its current and future tenants for at least 50 years.
12th & Jefferson Workforce Housing
Capitol Hill Housing will receive up to $2.4 million for the construction of workforce housing at the corner of 12th Avenue and East Jefferson Street in Capitol Hill. The building will include 40 apartments that will be affordable to households earning up to 60% of area median income, which is about $36,000 for one person and $41,000 for two. A formerly City-owned site, the property was awarded to CHH after a competitive Request for Proposal process that prioritized workforce housing. The site is centrally located, walkable and well-served by bus transit and connections to the future Link Light Rail station and the First Hill Streetcar.
Mercy Housing Northwest will receive up to $3.9 million for construction of Block 43, a 52-unit affordable workforce housing project at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Way South and South Oregon Street in the Rainier Vista master development. The units will be affordable to households earning up to 50% and 60% of area median income, about $30,000-$36,000 for one person and $34,250-$41,000 for two. Mercy purchased the site from the Seattle Housing Authority (SHA), which owns and operates Rainier Vista; Block 43 will be part of Rainier Vista Phase II. The site is ideally located two blocks from the Columbia City Light Rail station, and is next to a bus stop with frequent service on two routes. The project will be integrated into the pedestrian-oriented Rainier Vista community, and residents will have access to amenities such as parks, sports fields, the new Boys & Girls Club, p-patches, a farmers' market, computer centers and a community center.
Seattle Senior Housing Program buildings
Seattle Housing Authority will receive up to $3 million to rehabilitate four existing senior housing projects: Blakely Manor near University Village, 70 units; Bitterlake Manor in the Bitterlake neighborhood, 72 units; Olmstead Manor near Green Lake, 35 units; and Nelson Manor in Ballard, 32 units. The current population in these apartments consists primarily of extremely low-income seniors; additionally, 10% of the units are set aside for persons with disabilities regardless of age. The buildings were originally constructed in the early 1980s with funding from the City's first affordable housing bond. Rehabilitation of these four buildings preserves and extends the useful life of 209 units of much needed low-income housing for seniors and people with disabilities.
The Seattle Office of Housing awards multifamily funds annually to support the development of affordable housing. The long-term, low-interest loans are highly competitive, with applications carefully reviewed for financial feasibility, affordability, organizational capacity and how they meet the city's priorities. The affordability of the housing is regulated by OH for a minimum of 50 years.
Since 1981, Seattle voters have approved one bond and four levies to fund more than 10,000 affordable apartments for seniors, low- and moderate-wage workers, and formerly homeless individuals and families, in addition to providing down-payment loans to more than 600 first-time homebuyers and rental assistance to more than 4,000 households.
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