Seattle's Struggle to Build Affordable Housing

The Emerald City's affordable housing difficulties mirror those of New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and others: too much demand and too few resources.
October 3, 2015, 1pm PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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Ryan Lackey

David Kroman weighs in on why affordable housing is difficult to come by in Seattle, where rents have risen out of range for lower earners. While steps have been taken to address the shortage, steadily rising prices and bureaucratic snags have exacerbated the problem.

Recently, "Mayor Ed Murray's Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) taskforce has set out to add 20,000 affordable units over the next ten years, a two-thirds increase from Seattle's current stock." This goal is an admitted "stretch," even though it probably falls short of the city's need.

Kroman describes how affordable development plans in Seattle face opposition from NIMBYs, difficult approval processes, and a general lack of enthusiasm from profit-minded developers. Seattle's situation—vast need and limited resources—mirrors the situation of high-rent cities across the nation.

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Published on Wednesday, September 16, 2015 in Crosscut
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