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City of Seattle
Gregory J. Nickels (former Mayor)

SUBJECT: Mayor's Homes Within Reach Legislation Passes Council

6/30/2008  4:30:00 PM

Mayor's Homes Within Reach Legislation Passes Council

SEATTLE - Mayor Greg Nickels applauded the City Council today for passing legislation that will create housing affordable to teachers, nurses, grocery clerks and other moderate wage workers.

As part of his "Seattle Homes Within Reach" program, Nickels proposed to provide a 12-year tax-exemption for private developers to include below-market rate units in new buildings. The incentive will be expanded from 17 to 39 neighborhoods to provide additional developers an incentive to set aside 20 percent of their rental units to households earning no more than $65,000 for a family of three. The program is expected to cost the average assessed household approximately $4.20 a year in property taxes.

"I thank the Council for joining with me to make sure Seattle is affordable to working families," said Nickels. "The City of Seattle has a long history of meeting the housing needs of the poor and low-income earners. But we need to face the reality that many others are being priced out of today's housing market."

"This legislation is a way to make sure the middle-class can live in the city, close to jobs and transit. We want to make sure the benefits of density are available to everyone," said Councilmember Richard McIver.

The city invests approximately $40 million annually to develop and provide operating subsidies for rental housing for people who are homeless and low income; provide down payment assistance for first time homebuyers who earn less than $44,000 a year; provide direct rental assistance to low income households in danger of being evicted from their apartments; and provide low interest or no interest loans to homeowners who cannot afford life safety repairs to their homes.

With today's Council vote, Seattle becomes one of the few jurisdictions that requires a set aside for affordable units.

"Seattle's housing prices are rising beyond the reach of moderate-income workers. Moderate income workers make too much to quality for subsidized housing, but not enough to afford much of the housing for sale or rent these days," said Rick Sawyer, Secretary-Treasurer and Principal Officer of Local 8 UNITE HERE, which represents workers in the hotel, restaurant, food service, textile and laundry industries throughout the state."The incentive to create below market rate units will help more people find affordable homes."

"This is one of the few tools the city has to provide housing that is affordable to moderate wage workers," said Adrienne Quinn, director of Seattle's Office of Housing.

Visit the mayor's web site at Get the mayor's inside view on efforts to promote transportation, public safety, economic opportunity and healthy communities by signing up for The Nickels Newsletter at

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