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Housing Choices

What's Happening Now

Housing Choices is an initiative to understand the housing needs of people who live and work in Seattle and identify opportunities to shape market-rate housing development to serve these needs. This initiative is one element of Housing Seattle Now, Mayor Durkan's plan of action for addressing our housing crisis.

In 2019, OPCD released a Background Report, which summarized data on the housing market, and held public discussions to understand what types of housing people would like to see more of. Feedback from the public discussions is summarized in the Public Engagement Summary. In 2021, OPCD released the Market-rate Housing Needs and Supply Analysis which provides detailed information on market-rate housing needs and supply today and over the next 20 years.

This information, along with input from the Affordable Middle-Income Housing Advisory Council, will be used to guide future work to improve the private housing market.

Project Goals

Seattle aspires to be a welcoming city where people of all backgrounds feel they belong and have the opportunity to build a stable and fulfilling life. Our current housing affordability crisis represents a major challenge to this vision. Housing Choices seeks to help implement our vision of a welcoming city by supporting the development of private market housing that will help meet the full range of housing needs for current and future residents. In particular, we want to increase the range of available housing options by increasing the supply of:

  • Family-sized homes for sale
  • Condominiums and co-ops
  • Two and three-bedroom rental homes
  • Housing with smaller units and shared common space
  • Accessible homes

The End Result

We intend to use data from the background report and feedback from public discussions to inform:

  • Short and long-term recommendation to improve the private housing market, and
  • The next major update of the City's Comprehensive Plan, which will occur from 2020 through 2023.

Reports and Summaries

  • Market-rate Housing Needs and Supply Analysis (April 2021)
    This report produced by BERK Consulting provides detailed analysis of our current housing needs and supply as well as projected changes over the next 20 years. The intent of this work is to estimate potential housing supply shortages by housing types and affordability levels.
  • Housing Choices Public Engagement Summary (January 2020)
    From July through November 2019, we hosted an online survey and held small group conversations in order to better understand housing needs. This document summarizes what we heard as part of this process.
  • Housing Choices Background Report (August 2019)
    This report represents the first step in the Housing Choices effort. It summarizes findings from initial analyses to help start a conversation about the private housing market and what we could or should do to help ensure that it better meets our community's needs. The report also summarized the specific role that Housing Choices will have in addressing the housing crisis and ideas that we have heard during past conversations on housing.

Townhouse Reforms State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) Documents (November 2021)

The following documents summarize the environmental analysis that was conducted as part of developing the Townhouse Reforms legislation. The propose of this legislation is to remove barriers to the construction of townhouses. This legislation was developed in response to the recommendations of the Affordable Middle Income Housing Advisory Committee. During public engagement convened during the Housing Choices initiative, we heard a significant interest in increasing opportunities for lower-cost homeownership units such as townhouses and small detached units. In the 2019 Housing Choices survey, 70% of people under 35 ranked townhouses as the number one type of housing that they would like to see more of in Seattle.

Background

The City of Seattle and its partners have a long history of working to address housing affordability. Overall, the City has been working in many areas to address this issue including:

  • Investing in people so they can find employment that allows them to afford the housing they want
  • Investing in communities at risk of displacement to build stability as housing and commercial space becomes increasingly expensive through programs such as the Equitable Development Initiative and the Anti-displacement Executive Order
  • Building more rent- and income-restricted housing to meet the needs of households that cannot afford market-rate housing through the Housing Levy, Multifamily Tax Exemption, and Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA)
  • Supporting the development of market-rate housing to address increasing demand and provide a broad range of housing options

Housing Choices furthers the City's work on housing by focusing on opportunities to support the development of market-rate housing that serves a broader range of housing needs for current and future residents. While this effort is not sufficient to address all our housing challenges, it can play a unique role in addressing our housing crisis.

Housing Choices also supported the work of the Mayor's Affordable Middle-Income Housing Advisory Council, a group convened to suggest how we can increase housing opportunities for middle-income households by developing new investment tools, influencing investments in Federal Opportunity Zones, and reducing construction costs and regulatory barriers. Housing Choices specifically supported their work on cost and regulatory barriers by providing rigorous data analysis and sharing community-generated ideas.

Together, these efforts help create a welcoming city where people of all backgrounds feel they belong and have the opportunity to build a stable and fulfilling life.

Planning and Community Development

Rico Quirindongo, Acting Director
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 94788, Seattle, WA, 98124-7088
Phone: (206) 386-1010
opcd@seattle.gov

The Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD) develops policies and plans for an equitable and sustainable future. We partner with neighborhoods, businesses, agencies and others to bring about positive change and coordinate investments for our Seattle communities.