Seattle to spend $100 million on affordable housing

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Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan on Monday announced a $100 million-plus investment by the city in affordable-housing projects, including nine new apartment buildings and 26 homes for first-time buyers.

The record sum is about twice what the city’s Office of Housing doled out last year, and the money will help construct hundreds of units for low-income residents and those experiencing homelessness, Durkan said.

“Too many long-time residents are getting locked out and pushed out of Seattle,” Durkan said in a statement.

She delivered remarks at the Filipino Community Center in Rainier Valley, where nearly $11 million will help the nonprofit construct more than 90 apartments in a building for low-income seniors, with a space for youth programs on the ground floor.

Many Filipino-American seniors are being forced to leave the city as their adult children move to cheaper areas, said Sheila Burrus, the center’s executive director.

They’re getting stranded in suburban communities, where they’re having trouble maintaining their social and cultural connections, Burrus said.

“Gentrification is causing isolation for our seniors,” she said. “They don’t have transportation to come back to visit.”

The Filipino Community Village housing project will be behind the existing center, which hosts programs for seniors and offers Filipino items at its food bank.

Each summer, the Office of Housing asks developers to request funding for affordable projects. And each winter, it selects a number of them to receive money. The developers — usually nonprofit organizations — can use the city’s money in combination with funding from other sources.

This time, the nine new buildings will total 896 apartments, while two “affordable homeownership sites” will consist of 26 homes, the mayor’s office said.

The Filipino Community Center will use state and federal assistance to cover the rest of its $25 million project, which has been in the works for a decade, Burrus said. Construction is scheduled to begin later this year and the building may be complete in 2020.

The city’s $101 million investment will also help maintain four existing buildings, totaling 535 apartments.

The rents and home prices will be aimed at households earning less than the area’s median incomes, with commitments to keep the housing affordable for at least 50 years. Some of the projects will cater to seniors, some to families and others to chronically mentally-ill and homeless people.

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The largest chunk — more than $15 million — will help preserve The Frye, an apartment building for homeless people near Pioneer Square.

The second-largest — just under $15 million — will help construct new low-income apartments close to the Roosevelt light-rail station scheduled to open in 2021.

The other projects are in neighborhoods across the city, from the Central Area to Lake City, Georgetown and Beacon Hill. Seattle’s spending on subsidized housing has increased dramatically in recent years.

In 2008, the Office of Housing’s investment was only $13.1 million, a spokeswoman said Monday. As recently as 2014, it was $24.6 million, including rental and homeowner projects. It grew to $67 million in 2015 and was $51.1 million last year.

The latest investment is larger than in years past for various reasons.

Voters passed a new Seattle Housing Levy last year that will raise twice as much in property taxes over seven years than its predecessor. The city began collecting that money this year.

Also contributing: The City Council voted last year to issue bonds for an additional $29 million for affordable housing.

Tribune Content Agency



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