Seattle Community Issues: The Challenge of Affordable Housing

Author: Denise Storaasli

Technical Review: Craig Skipton, Kristin Kildall

The challenge of providing enough affordable middle-income housing in Seattle has risen to gain the attention of civic leaders throughout Seattle and King County. Workers in education, hospitals, and municipal like 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 is leading to a shortage of workers in these fields in essential services in these communities. A group of powerful CEOs of 15 companies and 2 philanthropies, led by former Governor Christine Gregoire called Challenge Seattle have partnered to address the crisis.  Challenge Seattle has initiated a call to action to provide recommendations and sums 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 goals 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 as well as project teams with architects engaged in providing new visions for new affordable housing communities throughout Seattle and greater King County.

AHBL’s engineers have experience researching sites for redevelopment with an eye on creating the highest and best use to maximize the number of housing units available per parcel. The firm’s housing experience extends from traditional lower-income and affordable housing to intergenerational housing, senior housing, and mixed-use commercial.



Back To News