This is the statement by our friend Linda Melvin, an activist from Ballard, on Mandatory Housing Affordability, given to the City Council’s Planning, Land Use, and Zoning (PLUZ) Committee.
The Grand Bargain was unnecessary when it was struck last year and it will NOT add a significant number of truly affordable housing units to the City of Seattle:
- We will lose more truly affordable housing units than we gain. We know the City has NOT tracked existing affordable units, but any of us can tell you about folks moving out when their affordable buildings were torn down or their rents exponentially increased.
- It’s already known that developers will pay in lieu fees into a fund for affordable housing rather than include affordable units in their buildings. Where and when will these new affordable units be built?
- And if developers do the right thing, they only have to provide 2.8% to 7% affordable units in their building. Why so low? Is Seattle again trying to establish the lowest national standard for help to the truly needy?
- We already have 36,000 new housing units in the development pipeline and I’m betting most of them are the high-priced luxury units that have already flooded the rental market. Why do we need to give developers any incentive to add even more of these units?
Sorry, this MHA framework and legislation should be discarded by the PLUZ committee and the Council. It won’t provide the truly affordable housing Seattle needs and it’s just another giveaway to developers.
What about the rest of HALA?
At the HALA Focus Groups, all I’ve heard so far is discussion about how to quickly approve the MHA legislation. Why are you not expediting other suggestions in the 76-page HALA report?
You could start with some of the “Highest Impact Recommendations” listed on pages 8-9 of the HALA Report, specifically:
- Strategy P.1: Acquire existing affordable multifamily housing and provide funding to preserve it.
- Strategy P.2: Make strategic investments to minimize displacement of marginalized populations.
- Strategy T.1: Fund subsidies for extremely low-income households.
- Strategy L.1: Prioritize use of surplus and underutilized public property for affordable housing, and promote co-development in conjunction with public buildings.
Also, please re-read the Community Housing Caucus Report, which was sent to you in March of 2015. It’s chock full of recommendations you can apply immediately, including multiple ideas for financing truly affordable housing, and how to assure 1-for-1 replacement, tenant protection, and preservation of existing affordable housing.
Please consider the above alternatives before railroading the MHA legislation.
Thank you for listening.
— Linda Melvin, Ballard