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The Durkan Digest: Our New Steps for More Housing in Seattle

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Over the last decade, we have become the fastest growing city in America. Our growth has brought some amazing opportunities, great jobs, and more small businesses. Across our country, Seattle is the envy of so many.

But this growth has put significant pressures on our city – especially on housing. It’s getting harder and harder for low-income and middle-income people to live in Seattle. The lack of affordable housing is helping fuel our homelessness crisis. And rising costs and the lack of affordable housing has had a direct and disproportionate impact on communities of color in Seattle.

We need more housing in every part of this city. And we need it as quickly as we can get it.

Since I’ve been mayor, we’ve taken important steps to expand economic opportunity, help residents stay in their housing, build more housing, and give the City new tools to address the crisis. Some of the actions we’ve taken together include: providing two years of free college through our Seattle Promise program; delivering on a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights; investing over $710 million with our partners in new affordable housing; signing Mandatory Housing Affordability into law; moving ahead on a livable, affordable community at Fort Lawton in Magnolia; signing a new law and Executive Order to create more backyard cottages and in-law apartments; and updating our laws to do more to protect renters.

We’ve done a lot – but there is still so much to do.

That’s why on Wednesday, I was joined by community members and advocates at 12th Avenue Arts at Capitol Hill as I announced “Housing Seattle Now” – my plan to surge our investments in housing and try some new things.

Housing Seattle Now header image - text on blue background with housing types as backdrop

I also announced two new initial steps as part of “Housing Seattle Now” that will help us build more housing.

The first step will ensure we can take advantage of new resources to build housing for our neighbors experiencing homelessness. Thanks to our partners in Olympia, cities in Washington State now have the chance to keep more of the money paid in sales tax and put it to work to build more affordable housing.  It will enable us to invest more than $50 million to build and support permanent housing units for people experiencing homelessness.

Housing Seattle now graphic reading: "an additional $50 million for housing our neighbors experiencing homelessness"

The second step is to renew and improve a program that helps provide affordable apartments for low-and middle-income households. The Multi-Family Tax Exemption (MFTE) program was created 1998, and thanks to this program, there are over 4,400 homes that have been made affordable for our low-and middle-income neighbors. We are already on a path to building another 1,300 new affordable homes over the next three years, and increasing this program will help us create even more.

Housing Seattle Now graphic reading: "Renew and improve the program providing affordable rents to 4,500 low- and middle-income households"

These are just a few things that we are doing as part of my Housing Seattle Now plan. You can watch the full speech or read it on my blog.

In the coming weeks, I’ll share some additional steps we must take to address our housing crisis, and seize this generational opportunity before us to bend the arc so more people can live in Seattle.

Together, we can build a more affordable, more equitable, and a more just city.

As always, please continue to write me at, reach out via Twitter and Facebook, and stay up-to-date on the work we’re doing for the people of Seattle on my blog.  


Mayor Jenny A. Durkan's Signature

This blog post is an excerpt from Mayor Jenny Durkan’s weekly newsletter. If would like more content like this, and a weekly recap of the exciting things happening in the City of Seattle, you can subscribe here.