affordable housing

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

A small non-profit group is trying to preserve some of Belltown’s unique character. It has just closed comments on a community visioning project for the Seattle neighborhood. Members of the group hope to preserve historic sites and create economic vitality.  

"edge of belltown" by Jeff Wilcox is licensed under CC by 2.0

A person has to make nearly $19 per hour to comfortably rent a one-bedroom apartment in Washington state, according to a new report from a national housing advocacy group.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition's annual Out of Reach report measures housing affordability in terms of how much a person has to make to rent average homes of various sizes.

The report ranks Washington as the 10th most expensive state in the country by that measure. Hawaii was ranked number one.

Will James / KNKX

The city of Seattle is facing a lawsuit from a group of landlords challenging one of the city’s most recent protections for tenants. 

Leaders of the Rental Housing Association of Washington say the City Council violated the state constitution's ban on rent control when it capped the amount of money landlords can charge for a security deposit and other move-in fees.

Lawyers representing the association filed the lawsuit Tuesday in King County Superior Court. 

On the south side of Dallas, Nena Eldridge lives in a sparse but spotless bungalow on a dusty lot. At $550 each month, her rent is just about the cheapest she could find in the city.

After an injury left her unable to work, the only income she receives is a $780 monthly disability check. So she has to make tough financial choices, like living without running water.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

An advocacy group will hold a public forum on Wednesday to talk about its proposal to levy a property tax to pay for affordable housing in Olympia.

The Home Fund is a project to encourage cities to dedicate funds for affordable housing around Thurston County.  

The group hopes to get a property tax levy on Olympia's November ballot to build 250 housing units over seven years. The tax would be 36 cents per $1,000 of assessed value and would raise about $2.2 million annually, according to The Home Fund.

Ashley Gross / KNKX

A new secretary of housing and urban development, Ben Carson, was sworn this week. Officials who help low-income people get housing in Seattle say it’s not clear how the new HUD secretary’s policies might affect this area. But one thing is certain -- there are many more people asking for federal help with housing than will receive it.  

Paula Wissel / KNKX File Photo

Washington state will soon have the ability to tap federal Medicaid dollars to help chronically homeless people stay in apartments. 

The federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services gave state officials special permission  Jan. 9 to use Medicaid funds for certain aspects of a strategy called "permanent supportive housing."

"edge of belltown" by Jeff Wilcox is licensed under CC by 2.0

Seattle tenants are seeing some of the steepest rent hikes in the nation. But they also have some strong laws working in their favor, protecting them from discrimination, excessive fees, and unsafe living conditions.

Be:Seattle, the group organizing a series of "Tenant Rights Bootcamps" this winter, hopes to educate tenants about their legal rights amidst anxiety over the city's tightening housing market.

Will James / KNKX

Residents of a SeaTac mobile home park marched through the city Friday to protest their community's pending closure.

The owner of the Firs Mobile Home Park is planning a motel project and has given residents until October 31, 2017, to move out, according to a notice at the park's entrance.

About two dozen residents and activists walked to a hotel three miles away that's owned by their landlord, Jong S. Park. He could not be reached for comment Friday.

"jo0966.JPG" by Mark Goebel is licensed under CC by 2.0

An obscure $48 fee Washington residents pay for filing real-estate paperwork is one of the most important weapons in the state's fight against homelessness, housing advocates say.

They're preparing to fight for the fee's future during next year's legislative session in Olympia, as an approaching "sunset" provision threatens to shrink the fee to $18.

"Apartment buildings in Cascade" by SounderBruce. Licensed under CC BY 2.0.

President-elect Donald Trump has picked retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson to lead the federal housing department, a decision that could affect the response to Western Washington's housing woes.

It's unclear to what extent Carson, a Republican, will reshape the Department of Housing and Urban Development. But Seattle-area housing experts say it plays an important role as the region grapples with soaring housing costs and rising rates of homelessness. 

More than 60 Renton families who rely on rental assistance are getting a reprieve weeks after landlords told them they would have to vacate their apartments.

Tenants of the Renton Woods and Grammercy complexes have faced displacement since the summer, when landlords said they would no longer accept Section 8 vouchers, according to advocates with the Tenants Union of Washington State.

ELAINE THOMPSON / AP

Seattle leaders unveiled a package of reports Sept. 8 filled with recommendations on how to solve the city's homelessness crisis. 

ELAINE THOMPSON / AP PHOTO

The median price for a single-family house in Washington state hit an all-time record of $317,500 in the second quarter of 2016.

That beats the prior record of $316,700 set in 2007, just before the housing market crashed, according to an analysis by the University of Washington's Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies.

Seattle City Council

A proposed Seattle law that aims to ease the city's housing crisis by encouraging homeowners to build cottages in their backyards has run into resistance.

The Queen Anne Community Council is trying to force the city to conduct an environmental review of the law. The nonprofit has brought a case before the city's hearing examiner and says it has raised $25,000 for legal fees.

courtesy Forterra

The Seattle-based environmental organization Forterra (formerly known as Cascade Land Conservancy) is getting into the urban land-banking business. Now, in addition to purchasing undeveloped open space, it’s buying property in Northwest cities, with plans to hold parcels until they can be developed as affordable housing. 

LaToya Fowlkes is standing outside rent court in Baltimore. A judge has just ruled that Fowlkes has to pay her landlord $4,900 in rent and fees despite her complaints that the house has leaky water pipes, chipped paint, rodents and a huge hole in the living room wall.

But Fowlkes didn't notify her landlord of the problems by certified mail — something the judge said she should have done to avoid eviction.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Seattle’s affordable housing shortage has been in the headlines lately, but according to a report from Senator Maria Cantwell, the situation is even worse in Pierce County. Cantwell stopped in Tacoma to push for an expansion of a tax credit program to build more affordable housing.

Over the past few decades, New York City has become safer, richer and a lot more crowded than it used to be. All over Manhattan these days, you can see apartment buildings going up — and yet finding a decent place to live has become tougher than ever.

"We are in an official housing crisis, period, in New York City," says Alicia Glen, New York City's deputy mayor for housing and development. "Our population is growing much more rapidly than our housing stock and so we have a really imbalanced housing market."

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Home prices in the Seattle metro area jumped almost 10 percent in December compared with a year earlier. A forum hosted by the real estate brokerage and tech company Redfin Wednesday evening will examine how the city can remain livable for people of all incomes in coming years. 

Ted S. Warren / AP

Energy efficiency and water conservation are important factors in keeping rental housing affordable. That’s the idea behind a new program launched in Seattle that’s demonstrating the concept nationwide, with an emphasis on multi-family buildings in high-cost urban areas.

Stefan Hampden / Cast Architecture

Since 2010, Seattle has allowed homeowners to build cottages in their backyards, but only about 200 have been built. Now officials are trying to come up with ways to stimulate construction of cottages as part of a plan to create more housing in a rapidly growing city. 

Ashley Gross / KPLU

Seattle voters are getting ready to choose who will represent their district. Seven district seats will be decided, as well at two at large positions. KPLU’s election series, Back On The Block, revisits issues affecting each district and introduces us to the candidates.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

 

As Seattle’s construction boom continues, the city council is laying the groundwork for digging into Mayor Ed Murray’s grand bargain with developers to build affordable housing.

The backbone of the city’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda, or HALA, is to charge developers of  commercial buildings a certain amount of money per square foot, known as a linkage fee.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Amazon has been growing so fast in Seattle that the company has lately been blamed for everything from too few women in the dating pool to traffic gridlock and rising rents. Now, the company is trying to show how having its campus in Seattle is a benefit to the city. 

People who want to live in a place with all of the amenities of a city but without Seattle’s housing prices are heading south. Real estate agents like Marguerite Giguere are noticing  the trend.

“They are people who would not be able to buy even a modest condo in Seattle and might have been looking to buy in places like Kent or Burien and then realize, ‘Wow, if I go to Kent or if I go to Burien, I’m going to be in a suburb.’”

Ed Ronco / KPLU

From Louis Edelman’s apartment in Seattle’s Lower Queen Anne neighborhood, you can see the Space Needle. Seattle’s iconic landmark is just a few blocks away. But it’s not the only thing popping out of the skyline. Construction cranes dot the landscape, too, as they build office towers and apartments in South Lake Union.

Edelman, who has lived in the 100 block of Roy Street for 10 years. He tends bar down the street and lives in an older apartment building, which he affectionately calls “the bartender projects.”

Creative Commons

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has revealed what he’s calling a “grand bargain” to ease the city’s affordable housing crunch, and it relies on a series of carrots and sticks for developers.

The heart of the plan is a proposal to let developers build bigger buildings in exchange for creating thousands of new affordable units, and charging new fees on commercial developments.

There’s a lottery being held in Seattle. But, this one isn’t about winning big bucks. It’s about a chance at affordable housing.

The lottery is being run by the Seattle Housing Authority for slots on a wait list for the Section 8 voucher program.

Ashley Gross / KPLU

The number of homeless people in King County continues to grow, according to this year’s One Night Count which showed a 21 percent jump from last year in the number of people without shelter. 

Volunteers found people sleeping in doorways, under overpasses, in cars and in alleys. Some were just wandering around, no place to go.

From Auburn to Woodinville, Seattle to Kirkland, 3,772 homeless people were counted this year, up from 3,123 last year.

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