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Mayor Durkan Applauds City Council Passage of Her Legislation to Increase Investments in Affordable Homeownership on City-Owned Property

Under Mayor Durkan, the City of Seattle Will Nearly Double Homeownership Opportunities for Families Earning Under 80 Percent Area Median Income

Seattle (September 30, 2019) – Mayor Jenny A. Durkan today applauded City Council’s passage of her legislation to create permanently affordable homeownership developments on under-utilized, City-owned property in northwest Seattle.

On September 5, Mayor Durkan announced the City will transfer surplus Seattle City Light land to non-profit developers Homestead Community Land Trust and Habitat for Humanity at no cost. The Office of Housing will provide funds to Homestead Community Land Trust of $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 eight family-sized townhomes with three bedrooms in the Loyal Heights neighborhood.

“We must keep acting 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 use all the innovative tools at the City’s disposal to ensure families can afford to continue to live and work in Seattle,” said Mayor Durkan. “Thanks to the leadership of Speaker Emeritus Frank Chopp and our Seattle delegation, cities across the state can benefit from this new opportunity. Thank you to Councilmember Mosqueda for helping ensure the City of Seattle will be one of the first to make use of this law and ensure more families have the opportunity to live and work in Seattle.”

Along with the transfer of the Yakima properties in the Central District announced in August and with funding from the City-owned properties on Mercer Street, under Mayor Durkan, the City of Seattle is nearly doubling the number of permanently affordable homeownership opportunities for Seattle homebuyers – families making up to 80 percent of Area Median Income (AMI), or $88,250 for a family of four.

The City of Seattle is the first city to utilize the authority created by the passage of HB 2382 in 2018 for a utility property. This law permits local jurisdictions to transfer surplus, including utility-owned property at no cost if used for affordable housing for households earning at or below 80 percent of AMI. The City of Seattle advocated for the passage of HB 2382 during the 2018 legislative session and Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda championed efforts to adopt express authority to use surplus publicly owned property at below market value for affordable housing and community-driven development with Council legislation in 2018.

 “Building housing on publicly-owned, underutilized property can help us create affordable housing faster and at about a 15% lower cost,” said Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda. “Thanks to the advocacy and ideas generated by the housing community and the state legislators who authorized this type of transfer, Seattle was the first to pass legislation I sponsored to implement the new authority, and today we become the first to effectuate the intent to build housing on surplus land, ensuring that public property truly benefits the public. These sites are in high-opportunity areas and sitting vacant and unused—now they will soon be the site of permanently affordable homeownership opportunities for families in Seattle.”

“We are grateful to Seattle City Council for approving the transfer of this property today and for passing the local law that permits the city of Seattle to convey this land at no cost.” Said Brett D’Antonio, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Seattle-King County. “Eight families will have the opportunity to purchase family sized townhomes in the Loyal Heights neighborhood, and each family will help build their community through the Habitat model.”

“This condominium development on an underused utility site will bring 19 permanently affordable homes to the vibrant Phinney Ridge neighborhood for buyers who would otherwise be unable to become homeowners in the Seattle market,” said Kathleen Hosfeld, Executive Director of Homestead Community Land Trust. “And the community land trust model will ensure these homes remain affordable for generations to come.”

Mayor Durkan has made these critical investments as part of her “Housing Seattle Now” initiative to address the long-sought housing needs of low- and middle-income families. In addition to the investments from the Seattle Housing Levy and Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA), Housing Seattle Now has:   

  • Renewed and improved 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  
  • Invested more than $78.2 million in new housing and anti-displacement measures as part of the 2020 budget, which will be funded from selling the under-utilized city-owned Mercer Mega Block properties: 
    • $42.2 million to provide affordable housing and address the pressures of displacement through a strategic investment fund;  
    • $15 million to create a revolving Equitable Development Initiative (EDI) acquisition loan fund; 
    • $15 million to increase investments in permanently affordable homeownership; and, 
    • $6 million for a new financing tool to create more affordable accessory dwelling units like backyard cottages and in-law apartments for low- and middle-income homeowners;
  • Announced her Fare Share plan for a modest tax on Uber and Lyft rides to provide $52 million in affordable housing development over 5 years near high quality transit; 
  • Released a plan for $25 million in new funds available for affordable housing investments for the City of Seattle by using existing revenues from the Real Estate Excise Taxes (REET) II; and
  • In partnership with Councilmember Lisa Herbold, updated City’s tenant protections to harmonize with new state laws and to better help residents stay in their homes.

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