Monday, 3 August, 2020

Seattle Housing Reading List – January 12

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Fortunately, we aren’t the only ones writing about housing issues. Here’s what we’ve read recently:

The Sightline Institute showing how parking drives up the cost of rent. Fortunately, this isn’t news to anyone that’s been following this issue but it’s great to see the report covered in so many publications! It’s also good research and fascinating even if you already know the general conclusions.

The Atlantic Cities wrote a pretty terrible article suggesting that small apartments could be bad for resident’s health simply because they are small. The article links to a study study of college age dorm residents and their drinking habits as proof. It also uses ‘crowded’ and ‘small’ interchangeably to describe the apartments. It seems unnecessary to point out that living alone in a small apartment is not the same as living in a 2 bedroom apartment with 4 people. While the article title is mostly link bait, it does pose an important question; is the strategy of building smaller apartments a promising strategy for reducing the costs of rent? This is something we’d like to explore more here.

Another local publication gets to the heart of reducing rental prices, indicating that there will never be affordable housing without more supply. This is an important point and it should be noted that the movement for a higher minimum wage is complementary to the struggle to increase the housing supply in Seattle. It brings to mind one of my favorite observations about housing:

…a housing affordability crisis means that housing is expensive relative to its fundamental costs of production—not that people are poor.

By increasing the minimum wage we will increase the number of people who will be able to afford units. By increasing the supply of units will will increase the number of units that are affordable.

Seattle’s Free Parking Creates A Housing Cost Problem

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How can it be a problem if something is free? It turns out, free and subsidized parking is a problem because it is often only free or subsidized for the person doing the parking and everyone else pays for it.

Seattle’s Multi-Family Property Tax Exemption Program

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What does a city need to ensure residents with different incomes can afford housing? One of Seattle’s strategies is to provide a tax exemption for developments that include affordable housing.

Seattle Housing Reading List – January 6th

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Here’s the roundup of reading we’ve been doing:

Attend A Seattle City Hearing on Lowrise Development

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Believe it or not, the city takes a lot of feedback from Seattleites and seriously considers it.

Who is Mel Watt? He’s here to decide how much money to loan you (if you’re a homeowner).

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The US Senate confirmed the nomination of Mel Watt to the the Federal Housing Finance Agency. The agency had been without a nominated executive since 2009 due to the threat of filibuster by Senate Republicans. Mel Watt will replace acting head Ed Demarco, and his appointment could pave the way for some big changes in home loan financing.

Average and Median Prices of Renting In Seattle

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We completed our preliminary research on 1 bedroom housing in Seattle. We’ll be publishing this research once we’ve worked out all the bugs. In the mean time, we wanted to give a sneak peek at what we found.

Micro-housing isn’t being built in the suburbs. We shouldn’t act like it is.

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As I mentioned in my previous post, there are many complaints about micro-housing but they share a common theme. Opponents believe micro-housing will drastically change the character of neighborhoods due to density and design.