Seattle is experiencing a housing crisis. Thousands of people are on the streets and thousands more are struggling to afford housing. The reasons for this are not hard to understand. Seattle has been adding jobs at a much faster rate than we’ve been adding housing. Competition for existing housing and the high cost of new construction has caused prices to skyrocket. You’re invited on Tuesday, October 25th at 4.30pm to join Housing Now and allied groups to show our overwhelming support for a program that will build 1,000 homes!

A broad range of organizations support the 1,000 homes initiative including Seattle Human Services Coalition, the Seattle King County NAACP, Church Council of Greater Seattle, 43nd and 32nd Legislative District Democrats, WFSE Local 1488, UAW Local 4121, AFM Local 76-493, YWCA, 350 Seattle, Latino Advocacy, El Comité, Tenants Union of Washington State, Seattle Indian Center, Transit Riders Union, Washington CAN!, Got Green, Socialist Alternative, Real Change, Nickelsville, SHARE, Steps Housing, Justice Works, Upgrade Seattle, Faith Action Network, Gender Justice League, Not This Time, Stop the Sweeps, and Socialist Students.

Please RSVP on our Facebook event and on the official event pageIf you can’t make it on Tuesday, or even if you can, we also need you to sign our petition urging the the Seattle City Council to take necessary steps for a much larger program. Realistically, we need 10,000 homes to address this crisis and our petition lays out some ideas on how we can get there.

Background

The measures that the City has enacted thus far to combat the housing crisis have been an important start, but just a start. The HALA Recommendations and passing an expanded housing levy were and are a good place to start. We’ve got to keep pushing. Only by dramatically expanding the supply of housing can we truly begin to catch up. For low income people, expanding the supply of affordable units is the only way we can avoid further mass displacement and economic misery.

We now have a rare opportunity to do something decisive to address this. Earlier this year, Mayor Ed Murray and many members of the City Council signaled that they were reconsidering spending $160 million on a new police precinct in North Seattle. They kicked these plans back to the drawing board, putting the $160 million into limbo.

For urbanists, we know what needs to be done with this money. By leveraging City land, federal funds, and other resources, this money can build over 1,000 units of affordable housing. Doing this will benefit over thousand people who would otherwise be priced out of the city. It will support transit-oriented development (TOD) while making sure that TOD isn’t just for the rich.

Housing Now Seattle has spent the last two years studying publicly-financed housing and how to expand it. One inescapable conclusion of our research is that new housing is so expensive that for low-income people the only way they can afford it is with public subsidies. In the long run, public control helps ensure that this housing stays affordable in perpetuity. Cities with robust housing affordability plus livability and minimal homelessness use these kind of subsidies as a key part of their strategy. This $160 million represents our best chance to have a major impact on the housing crisis!

We’re not alone. A growing coalition of non-profit groups has come out in favor of doing this. They’re not just signing letters though. People are showing up for this and will be showing up for this on Tuesday (October 25th). Last Tuesday, Councilmember Kshama Sawant had a reprise of her “People’s Budget Townhall” at City Hall. This year’s event was smaller, but more focused. The singular focus was on building 1,000 homes. Urbanists have been hoping for this kind of support for years, decades even. Now it’s here, and the only question is: will we attend our own party, and do so in sufficient numbers?

We need to press for the full $160 million to be spend on housing because the need is great, and the Council has a history of watering down every proposal put before them. History has shown that if we started asking for one million dollars we’d wind up with less.

Please write the Council and Mayor; tell them that you support building 1,000 homes. Tell them that you support building these homes in your own neighborhood and in every neighborhood. Also, tell them that this should just be a start, and sign our petition to build 10,000 homes!

We hope you loved this article. If so, please consider subscribing or donating. The Urbanist is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit that depends on donations from readers like you.

The Urbanist encourages dialogue on important urban issues through guest contributions. Over the years, we've had dozens of guest authors share their opinions and insights ranging from commentary on current events to community interviews and researched think pieces. If you would like to see your name behind a byline on The Urbanist, feel free to reach out to our Editorial Team at editorial[at]theurbanist[dot]org.

Housing Now Seattle (Guest Contributor)