Investment in affordable housing increases in Seattle

SEATTLE — Historic demand for houses and housing is causing an increase in price, making it more expensive for people to catch a break, especially in the Seattle metro area.

However, there is good news as the city of Seattle has been working to create more affordable housing for those with a lower income.

A city report reveals that investments in affordable housing have increased.

Under Seattle’s Mandatory Housing Affordability program, or MHA, which is used to fund affordable housing, $171.4 million in payments has been received as of Dec. 31, 2021. That is for projects with building permits issued.

According to a report from the city, $159 million has been awarded to low-income housing by the Office of Housing.

Under MHA, the city requires developers of new multifamily and commercial developments to either include affordable homes or contribute to a city fund that is used for the “preservation and production of low-income housing.”

The program applies to neighborhoods across the city.

The report revealed that in 2021, developers had entered into agreements with the city to include 95 MHA units for 13 projects, totaling 1,286 units in the works.

That is an increase from 2020, when only 20 MHA units were set aside, from five projects that had a combined total of 208 units.

MHA contributions were also made for affordable housing for 295 projects issued permits in 2021, an increase of 71 projects from 2020. Payments increased from $67 million in 2020 to $75.5 million in 2021.

Officials said $18.5 million in payments for 2021 was received in the final quarter, so some of the money could not be awarded immediately. However, $56.9 million was awarded, supporting 990 affordable apartments and 17 condominiums for sale. These were reserved for low-income, first-time home buyers, and restricted from resale to ensure permanent affordability.

As affordable housing investments continue to rise in the western Washington region, a new affordable housing development was completed in Seattle’s Central District neighborhood at the end of April.

The Village Gardens was built with six market-rate homes and 10 affordable-rate homes.

The completion of the homes is in response to the sharp increase in people seeking more affordable housing.

According to a 2021 housing needs assessment published by the Puget Sound Regional Council, there is a backlog of about 46,000 housing units in the region, just to accommodate the recent growth.

The city has estimated it could receive more than $90 million in future MHA payments as affordable housing is a dire need.