Last week, the Seattle Human Services Coalition put a modest proposal before the Seattle City Council. We should take $12.5 million of the Seattle's projected budget surplus this year and make an investment in long-term housing affordability.
The white-hot Seattle condo market, rising land values, and double-digit increases in rental prices have led to unprecedented losses in Seattle's affordable housing stock, and the trend continues.
Forbes Magazine just named Seattle one of the few places in the nation where housing is likely to remain a great investment. That's good news for homeowners, but for the rest of us, it just means housing costs more.
If you want to see our future, look to San Francisco, where a one-bedroom apartment now goes for around $1,500, and rents are up another 8.3 percent over the last year alone.
A Seattle Housing Acquisition Fund would provide loans to non-profit developers who need the flexibility to move fast on available opportunities. By helping the good guys compete for properties with those who often have superior resources, Seattle can make a long term-difference in the outlook for affordability. The best part is that the fund renews itself. As projects succeed, the money is repaid and available for others.
Opportunities to make a real difference in Seattle's housing market do not arise all that often. This is a bold investment in the future that needs action by the City Council now, when the resources and the political will are aligned. It's the right idea at the right time.
For daily posts by Tim Harris at http://www.apesmaslament.blogspot.com