Mayor Durkan Transmits Legislation to Renew, Improve Multi-Family Tax Exemption Program That Currently Provides Affordable Rent to Almost 4,500 Low- and Middle-Income Households in Apartment Buildings across Seattle

Improvement to Program Will Limit Rent Increases to No More Than 4.5 Percent Per Year So Apartments Can Remain Affordable; Program Expected to Support At Least Another 1,300 New Affordable Homes over the Next Three Years 

Seattle  (July 24, 2019) – Mayor Jenny A. Durkan transmitted legislation to City Council today to renew and improve the Multifamily Tax Exemption (MFTE) Program. The MFTE program provides affordable rent, typically hundreds of dollars lower than market rate, to nearly 4,500 low- and middle-income households in private apartment buildings in neighborhoods across Seattle.  

Mayor Durkan made the announcement today as an initial step that is part of her new “Housing Seattle Now,” a plan for a surge of City investments in housing for low- and middle-income families.  

The MFTE program is expected to support at least another 1,300 new affordable homes by 2022, and renewing the program will help create even more. Without action to renew the program, it would expire on December 31, 2019. 

“This program is critical to creating more affordable apartments that working individuals can afford in every part of our City,” said Mayor Durkan. “Thanks to this program, there are nearly 4,500 homes that have been made affordable for our low-and middle-income neighbors. This program is working, and that’s why it’s time to renew and improve it.” 

Mayor Durkan’s legislation includes a new protection to moderate high rent increases for MFTE tenants. It will limit rent increases to no more than four and a half percent per year, ensuring that renters have some stability as they navigate rent increases. Rent and income limits would still be tied to the Area Median Income that are published annually by the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, as in the past. The legislation also provides that rents will not decrease if income levels decline. 

“The Multi-Family Tax Exemption program has been a critical tool that has enabled us to create affordable homes as we develop new buildings in Seattle,” said Joe Ferguson, Co-Founder/Principal at Lake Union Partners and a member of Mayor Durkan’s Affordable Middle-Income Housing Advisory Council. “We are able to offer lower rents to our neighbors who have jobs that are important to our community, like entry-level teachers and health care workers.” 

The MFTE program serves people with incomes of $49,400 for a single person renting a small studio apartment and to up to $83,100 for a three-person household renting a two-bedroom apartment. These incomes are earned by our neighbors who are child-care providers, healthcare workers, entry level teachers and service industry employees. Tenants must meet income qualifications in order to lease the reduced rent apartments. For more information on the MFTE program, click here.  

* Applies to the majority of MFTE units. Other rent and income restrictions may apply. 
1 Includes utilities. 
2 Everyone who will live in the apartment, including parents and children. Subject to occupancy criteria. 
3 Includes salary, hourly wages, tips, Social Security, child support, and other income.