Mayor Durkan Statement on Sound Transit’s Unanimous Vote to Transfer Properties to City of Seattle at No Cost for the Development of Approximately 150 Affordable Homes in Rainier Valley

Seattle (October 22, 2020) – Mayor Jenny A. Durkan celebrated the Sound Transit board’s unanimous vote to authorize the transfer of ten surplus properties in Rainier Valley to the City of Seattle at no cost, for affordable housing development. Approximately 150 affordable homes will be developed for homeownership opportunities for families at or below 80 percent Area Median Income (AMI).  

“The City of Seattle is making real on deep investments into communities that have been impacted by displacement. Our sky-rocketing rents, affordability challenges, our racist history of redlining and more have forced many from our Black community and other communities of color out of our City. Creating opportunities for affordable homeownership and wealth building will allow residents – especially communities of color – to build wealth and continue to call Seattle home. Today’s vote is proof of what is possible when government and community come together to advance racial equity in our most important causes. This strategic investment in the Rainier Valley, applied with our Community Preference policy will help promote a healthy, thriving neighborhood for our neighbors,” said Mayor Durkan.  

The City has been working in partnership with Sound Transit and community-based organizations for several years to transfer these sites at no cost to the City of Seattle, and over the last year, Mayor Durkan had been working to ensure these parcels could be transferred at no cost to the City. Throughout this years-long partnership, community members have expressed the creation of affordable homeownership opportunities as a top priority. Using locally- and nationally-proven strategies, such as community land trusts and other shared equity homeownership models, the Office of Housing will invest $10 million to develop permanently affordable homes on these sites. 

“Thanks to Sound Transit for another collaborative effort to create equitable transit-oriented development. We are pleased to be one step closer to putting the community’s vision into action,” said Emily Alvarado, Director of the Office of Housing. “Through these permanently affordable homes, we will create both long-lasting equity and stability for low-income families, as well as broader community control of land.” 

“Permanently affordable homeownership is both an affordable housing and anti-displacement strategy, for which Rainier Valley residents and community-based organizations have long advocated,” said Patience Malaba, Director of Government Relations and Policy for the Housing Development Consortium of Seattle-King County. “Using these properties for permanently affordable homeownership not only creates affordable, transit-accessible housing, but it centers the voice of historically underrepresented communities.” 

Today’s action builds on Mayor Durkan’s proposed $100 million investment into communities facing systemic racism and oppression, and also the recent investments in neighborhoods experiencing gentrification including the transfer of City surplus property to Byrd Barr Place, and legislation transmitted to City Council in September to transfer Fire Station 6 and the Central Area Senior Center, into community hands. 

The Office of Planning and Community Development launched an Equitable Development Monitoring Program that includes a new Displacement Risk Indicators dashboard and Community Indicators of Equitable Development report. The City will be tracking areas where displacement risk for communities of color continues to rise, as well as housing affordability, economic opportunity, and other metrics. This ongoing program will provide data to City leaders and the public to help guide decisions to advance equitable development and mitigate displacement risk.   

Since taking office Mayor Durkan has made critical and unprecedented investments in housing and to keep longtime residents from becoming displaced. City funding has been leveraged to more than $1.5 billion. Investments support over 4,500 new affordable rental homes, which includes permanent supportive housing for people formerly experiencing homelessness, and nearly 200 new permanently affordable homeownership opportunities.