The Challenge of Affordable Housing
Providing affordable middle-income housing in Seattle is paramount for civic leaders throughout Seattle and King County. Workers in education, hospitals, and municipalities, including those in emergency services, police, and utilities are left to find housing elsewhere, leading to long commute times and eventually seeking work closer to home. This leads to a shortage of workers in these communities’ essential services.
A group of powerful CEOs of 15 companies and 2 philanthropies, led by former Governor Christine Gregoire called Challenge Seattle have partnered to address this crisis. Challenge Seattle has initiated a call to action to provide recommendations and they sum up the crisis in this way:
The problem: each year more and more middle-income residents of Seattle are being priced out of almost every zip code in King County. In the past 10 years, home prices have risen nearly 60% - three times the national growth rate.
The solution as Challenge Seattle sees it: build more housing at the right price, of the right size and in the right locations, however, they recognize that market-rate development doesn’t pencil, and public financing tools aren’t covering the gap.
Challenge Seattle envisions that public-private partnership is the way to succeed. The Office of Housing announced nearly $100M in affordable housing investments in 2021, marking a single-year record of $143 million in affordable housing in 2021. Under Mayor Harrell’s leadership in 2022, the city of Seattle has announced more than $200M in new affordable housing and a shortened goal of approving all affordable housing project permits within 12 months of submission. Citywide developments requiring design review took an average of 519 days to receive final determinations.
AHBL supports affordable housing in Washington through key partnerships with local housing authorities and project teams providing new visions for affordable housing communities throughout Seattle, King County, and other Puget Sound communities.
AHBL’s housing experience extends from traditional lower-income and affordable housing to intergenerational, senior, and mixed-use commercial housing. From researching sites for redevelopment with an eye on creating the highest and best use to maximize the number of housing units available per parcel while creating inviting and welcoming places that people call home, our team contributes to the Challenge Seattle vision in meaningful ways.