Build baby, build
Cities and counties in Washington will need to step up their game and build nearly 1 million new units of housing at various income levels over the next two decades to accommodate population growth, according to the state Department of Commerce.
The state will also need as many as 91,360 units of emergency housing to act as a safety net for people at risk of homelessness by 2044.
This may mean that communities have to change the way they plan for new housing in order to ensure that there are sufficient units available that are affordable to people of various incomes such that they pay no more than 30 percent of their income on housing.
According to federal numbers, roughly a third of Washingtonians pay a greater percentage of their income on housing, making them “rent burdened.”
Of the estimated 1.1 million new homes, roughly a fifth should be affordable to people making between zero and 30 percent of the area median income (AMI) and another 122,469 should be at that affordability level but with additional amenities that qualify them as permanent supportive housing. The majority should be either apartments or “multi-plex” housing, while an estimated 310,740 units would be single family homes affordable to people making 120 percent or more of AMI.
“Planning for housing in the next 20 years will require an inclusive and equity-driven approach if we are to meet the housing needs for all the residents at all income levels,” said Dave Andersen, managing director of the Growth Management Services unit, in a release.
A little bare
Seattle lost tree canopy equivalent to the area of Green Lake between 2016 and 2021, according to a new release by the city’s Office of Sustainability & Environment, putting the city further from its goal of achieving 30 percent canopy cover by 2037.
According to the report, 28.1 percent of Seattle is covered with tree canopy, down from 28.6 percent in 2016. That’s a problem because tree canopy helps lower temperatures in the city and reduces the impact of “heat islands,” essentially areas of the city that absorb and retain heat, which can be unhealthy for residents. Areas with 25 percent tree canopy were 1 degree cooler than neighborhoods with no tree canopy on a hot day, according to the report.
Furthermore, canopy loss was more pronounced in areas that already had less to begin with. According to the report, neighborhoods with fewer resources had 27 percent less canopy than those with more resources in 2016; by 2021, those neighborhoods had 31 percent less canopy.
Report authors recommend planting more trees on public and private property, taking care of existing trees, including expected impacts of climate change in planning and creating a regulatory framework that balances canopy with needed housing development.
The Washington state House of Representatives approved a bill that would open up zoning codes to allow more housing throughout the state. The companion bill has yet to pass in the state Senate.
House Bill 1110 would require cities that have plans under the Growth Management Act to allow for more density in residential areas, specifically by creating requirements for middle housing development. It also mandates that the Department of Commerce support communities in the development of middle housing regulations.
Under the bill, cities with a population of at least 25,000 people would have to allow at least two units per lot and at least four units per lot within half a mile of a major transit stop. Four units per lot would also be allowable if at least one of them is deemed “affordable housing.”
Large cities with a population above 200,000 people would have to allow for more housing. Those cities would have to allow at least four units per lot and six within half a mile of “a major transit stop or community amenity,” and six units if at least two were considered affordable.
“Cities must allow any combination of middle housing types to be allowed to achieve the required unit density,” according to the House Bill Report.
Stories on demand
The Seattle Public Library is offering another way to engage with literature with its short story dispenser.
Curious readers can hit up short story dispensers on Level 3 of the Central Library and at The Station, a Beacon Hill coffee shop, to get short stories produced by local Seattle writers.
Stories for the device are curated by Short edition, a French publishing company that works with local authors such as Kristen Millares Young, a finalist for the 2021 Washington State Book Award for creative nonfiction who also hosts writing workshops at the library.
People can choose stories based on the length of the read — one and three-minute options are available from each of the kiosks. The stories are printed out on a piece of paper like a receipt. According to the library, more than 14,000 short stories have been printed since the dispensers debuted in 2020.
These are the only short story dispensers in Washington, but Short Edition says that there are more than 300 across the globe. The organization created the first one in 2016. Seattle Public Library plans to send the dispenser to other branches later in 2023.
If you want to submit your work to the world, you can send it in at short-edition.com/en.
Support the youth
The Seattle Youth Employment Program is looking to place 250 youth and young adults in internships for the summer of 2023. Organizations can help out by bringing on an intern for 150 hours from July 5 to Aug. 15.
Read more of the Mar. 8-14, 2023 issue.