Seattle is a wonderful place to live–vibrant, diverse, and thriving. The rich cultural and economic opportunity we enjoy here has made Seattle one of the fastest-growing cities in the country. But for all the positive impacts this growth has on our region, it also forces us to confront the reality that an increasing number of families and individuals are competing for a limited amount of homes. This dynamic is creating a serious scarcity of housing options. Families and individuals across Seattle are struggling to keep up with rising rents and home prices–and many find themselves displaced from the city or making hard sacrifices to pay the rent each month. Addressing our city’s affordability dilemma calls for equitable and sustainable policy solutions that allow for growth while ensuring that growth includes housing choices that are affordable for families and individuals at all income levels.

That’s why it’s so exciting that we have recently made big steps toward becoming a more affordable city through the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA), a multi-pronged, innovative approach to addressing the housing shortage and increasing affordability in Seattle that would create 50,000 new homes over the next decade, including 20,000 homes reserved for low- and moderate-income residents.

In the last year, the City has adopted legislative framework for the new Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) program for residential and commercial development, the centerpiece of HALA. MHA is designed to leverage the unprecedented growth Seattle is experiencing to bring more diverse and affordable housing choices for more families and individuals in Seattle. The MHA program alone will create more than 6,000 new affordable homes over ten years in neighborhoods all across the city, made possible through changes to outdated zoning laws in our opportunity-rich urban areas–main thoroughfares and their surroundings that were designated as our “urban centers” and “urban villages” over twenty years ago.

The passage of the MHA program is a great example of what can be achieved when neighbors from across Seattle come together and use our collective voice to stand up for an equitable city that is accessible and affordable to all current and future residents. But our work is not done. Now it’s time to unite once again to ensure that MHA is fully implemented by advocating for the necessary zoning changes to begin the creation of affordable homes through the program.

The U District rezone will be the first zoning change in Seattle to activate MHA, and its smooth, successful passage will pave the way for other rezones across the city. The Seattle City Council is holding a public hearing on the U District rezone on Wednesday, November 16th, at 5:30 p.m. at Hotel Deca, 4507 Brooklyn Ave NE. Neighbors and advocates from across the city will be there to voice support for the rezone, and we welcome you to join us in standing up for a more equitable and affordable Seattle.

RSVP for the Seattle City Council Public Hearing on the proposed U District rezone on Wednesday, November 16, at 5:30 p.m. at Hotel Deca.

No matter where in Seattle you live, the November 16th public hearing is an important opportunity to voice support for this big step toward achieving a more affordable and inclusive city. Join us in building a Seattle for Everyone.

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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.

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Seattle For Everyone (Guest Contributor)

Seattle for Everyone is a broad coalition of non-profit developers, private developers, affordable housing providers, labor groups, businesses, social justice advocates, environmentalists, urbanists, and neighbors.

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Erin House (Guest Contributor)