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Mayor Durkan Statement on Sound Transit Boards Unanimous Vote to Transfer at No Cost to the City of Seattle Rainier Valley Properties to Develop 150 Affordable Homes

Seattle (February 25, 2021) – Mayor Jenny A. Durkan issued the following statement upon the Sound Transit Board’s unanimous approval to transfer 10 Sound Transit properties at no cost to the City of Seattle. The properties will support development of approximately 150 affordable homes, including homeownership opportunities for families earning at or below 80 percent of the Area Median Income, or about $88,000 per year for a family of four.   

“Far too many people have been priced out of our City, especially our communities of color, and the devastating impact of COVID-19 has only increased the problem. To remain a just, equitable, and welcoming City, we have to ensure that those who call Seattle home, can afford a home. Rapidly increasing our affordable housing and creating ownership opportunities is a proven strategy to answer the challenge of Seattle’s affordability and has been a top priority for my administration since day one,” said Mayor Durkan. “Last year, I felt strongly that the City should not pay millions of dollars to our partner at Sound Transit for these properties. Over the last year, we’ve built community momentum and have engaged in a deep partnership with Sound Transit to make this transfer a reality.”   

“The members of the Sound Transit board recognize the urgency for affordable housing across the region. Our action will contribute to a range of housing options for Seattle families, including realizing the dream of homeownership for low- and moderate-income families. Our City and Sound Transit partnership will continue and deepen as we provide homes and also safer spaces for some of the most vulnerable members of our community. Throughout this entire process, hearing and learning from South Seattle communities has been the cornerstone of developing the right approach to address the housing needs of this community and that engagement will continue.”   

In just over three years the City of Seattle has invested $400 million in city funds that has been leveraged to more than $1.7 billion to build or preserve more than 6,200 homes by 2023.  Since voters first approved the concept in 1981, the Seattle Housing Levy has been the backbone of affordable housing finance in Seattle. Ongoing policy initiatives have expanded our horizons, including Seattle’s own dedication of City-owned land to affordable housing development.  

Coupled with Seattle’s anti-displacement community preference policy, established via executive order in 2019, and purposeful actions like today’s vote of the Sound Transit Board, Seattle is positioned to continue to lead the nation in innovative approaches to advancing housing affordability and equity.