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Mayor Durkan Announces New Permanently Affordable Homeownership Investments at Two Seattle City Light Public Properties in Northwest Seattle

Seattle is First City to Utilize State Law for a Utility Surplus Property to Transfer Seattle City Light Property at No Cost for Affordable Homeownership

Seattle (September 5, 2019) – As part of her Housing Seattle Now initiative, Mayor Jenny A. Durkan announced new investments by the Office of Housing today to create two permanently affordable homeownership developments in Northwest Seattle. Homestead Community Land Trust will receive $1.51 million to create 19 condominiums in Phinney Ridge and Habitat for Humanity Seattle-King County will receive at least $720,000 to build 8 family sized townhomes with three bedrooms in the Loyal Heights neighborhood.  

The City will transfer the surplus Seattle City Light land to the non-profit developers at no cost. Seattle is the first city to utilize the authority created by the Washington State Legislature in 2018 to allow cities to transfer surplus utility-owned property at no cost when used for affordable homes. 

“We know we must continue to act with urgency to address our housing and affordability crisis. The cost of buying a home is out of reach for many families in Seattle, which is why we must continue using all the innovative tools at the City’s disposal to ensure families can afford to continue to live and work in our City,” said Mayor Durkan. “I’m grateful for the leadership of Speaker Emeritus Frank Chopp and our Seattle delegation – this new opportunity for Seattle will change the lives of many by creating a real opportunity to working families to have the opportunity to afford to live in our great city.”  

The City of Seattle advocated for the passage of HB 2382 during the 2018 session to permit local jurisdictions to transfer surplus property at no cost, if used for affordable housing for households earning at or below 80 percent of Area Median Income ($88,250 for a family of four).  

“Publicly-owned surplus property is a crucial resource to help meet the growing need for more affordable homes in our community, especially as land prices command a premium in Seattle’s real estate market, said Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda. Position 8, Citywide. Last year, working with community partners, I sponsored two pieces of legislation to adopt express state authority to use surplus City- and utility-owned property at below-market value for affordable housing and community-driven development—setting the stage for greater equity in housing access and development across Seattle. Today, we have the opportunity to capitalize on this authority through two of the first properties to be conveyed at no cost for affordable housing. These properties will help us bring affordable homes online faster and at a lower cost, and will allow public investments to be spread further to create more homes across the city. Thank you to our partners in the state legislature for providing this important tool to ensure public property truly benefits the public.” 

“Public property should always benefit the community,” said Speaker Emeritus Frank Chopp (D-Seattle). “Because we leveraged all the laws, land and tools at our disposal, 27 more families can afford to live here. 27 more families don’t have to worry about getting pushed out by prices. 27 more families can call Seattle home.” 

These Office of Housing-funded homes will help first-time homebuyers build equity and stability through homeownership. To ensure these homes remain permanently affordable, re-sale prices are restricted so that future low-income homebuyers have access to the same opportunity to purchase the home. Using the voter approved Housing Levy, the Phinney Ridge property will be developed by Homestead Community Land Trust in partnership with Edge Developers at 6109 Phinney Avenue N and the Loyal Heights site at 7750 28th Avenue NW will be developed by Habitat for Humanity Seattle King County. 

“This site in Loyal Heights will provide stability for larger families through permanently affordable homeownership in a high opportunity neighborhood with 3-bedroom townhomes,” said Brett D’Antonio CEO of Habitat for Humanity Seattle-King County. “The hardworking homebuyers will each participate in the construction of their homes, building community according to the Habitat for Humanity model.” 

“Condominiums have traditionally been more affordable homeownership opportunities for first-time buyers, so we are grateful for new opportunities to build more of them,” said Kathleen Hosfeld, Executive Director of Homestead. “Our condo development will create 19 homes with reduced prices so that they are affordable to the everyday heroes of Seattle whose incomes shut them out of market-rate homes. Through our community land trust model we will keep these homes affordable to future buyers as well.” 

As noted in the recently released Housing Choices Background Report, Seattle has relatively few condominiums as compared to peer cities. Homestead Community Land Trust’s 19-unit affordable condo project supports the creation of diverse housing types at various price points.  

“To make housing affordable for all in Seattle, we need to use all of the tools we have as a City to ensure everyone has a home, said MA Leonard, Pacific Northwest VP and Market Leader for Enterprise Community Partners. “Publicly owned sites like these make an important and powerful contribution to creating homes. We are thankful to City of Seattle and Seattle City Light for contributing this public resource to address our City’s housing needs.” 

As part of Mayor Durkan’s “Housing Seattle Now” plan to address Seattle’s housing crisis, the City has provided a surge of new investments in housing for low- and middle-income families. As part of “Housing Seattle Now,” Mayor Durkan has:  

  • In partnership with Councilmember Lisa Herbold, updated City’s tenant protections to better help residents stay in their homes;  
  • Transmitted legislation to renew and improve the Multi-Family Tax Exemption program by limiting rent increases so homes can stay affordable;  
  • In partnership with Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, invested $50 million in permanent supportive housing for people experiencing long-term homelessness; and  
  • Announced sale of the underutilized City properties at Mercer Street, which amounts to nearly $300 million in public benefits for the people of Seattle.