Capital budget gridlock puts affordable housing at risk

Bellevue's St. Luke's Church donated the land, but the 63-unit affordable housing building now under construction will still cost $24 million.

The builder is Imagine Housing, which was able to use $1 million in federal money to attract $10 million more in private funding.

But Executive Director Villette Nolon says another project in Kirkland is on hold until the state’s capital budget passes, thereby allowing federal money to be released. The deadline is today.

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“Today, if the state doesn't pass the capital budget, there will be quite a few people hurting, us included,” she said.

In Seattle, Mayor Jenny Durkan watched students at Seattle Vocational Institute build temporary housing for the homeless. The capital budget gridlock has impact there, too.

Themayor's office says construction of 125 affordable units are at risk because state and federal money is frozen.

“I think in terms of the federal dollars I was in Olympia last week. (King County) Executive Constantine was there this week. We are continuing to have discussions with them every day.”

“It is absolutely horrible, we're in a double whammy situation,” said Sharon Lee, director of the Low-Income Housing Institute.

The capital budget has been held up over a water rights dispute that divides rural and urban areas. There's uncertainty about whether the federal money will be available when the capital budget passes.

“It's been approved, it's in a state budget for us but it's not accessible ... unless the capital budget is passed,” Nolon said.

Legislative negotiators reported progress on a water rights Tuesday, but there's no deal yet.