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How Seattle is creating affordable housing
#1
A good story in the G&M on what Seattle is doing to create affordable housing: 4000 units built and 2000 more in the pipeline.
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/brit...e31599625/

6000 affordable units is equivalent to maybe 500-750 units in Kitchener-Waterloo.  It would be good to see that!
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#2
(08-29-2016, 08:36 PM)tomh009 Wrote: A good story in the G&M on what Seattle is doing to create affordable housing: 4000 units built and 2000 more in the pipeline.
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/brit...e31599625/

6000 affordable units is equivalent to maybe 500-750 units in Kitchener-Waterloo.  It would be good to see that!

We have a huge backlog right now, those 750 units would be scoped up pretty quickly.

It's a shame that the government, local, provincial and federal can't figure out a way that would allow working class people, or those that are on disability, to have housing that they can afford. I'm not sure what a good number is, but would 30% of a persons income be considered right for housing? So if someone earns $24,000/year, that's $2000 a month, so they'd pay $600/month for rent, all inclusive (except for cable/Internet/phone).

I still like the way that Habitat for Humanity works, too bad that they can't build more housing. Would be great if all levels of government could get on board with that.
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#3
Yes, 30% of $2K/month would work out to $600/month (whether with or without utilities). In the example they have, 30% of $36K/year equates to $900/month, and gets her (and her daughter) a 700 sq ft one-bedroom apartment.

Our median family income is about $85K, so at a 60% threshold the cutoff would be $51K. I don't know whether this is the right cutoff -- if we have a very limited supply, then we should start with a lower cutoff -- so that we can first help those most in need -- and then later raise the cutoff point as we grow the affordable-housing stock.

HfH is great, but as far as I understand, they focus on single-family housing, and it's very hard to scale that up to the point of being able to produce substantial affordable housing stock. And new single-family construction also tends not to be so walking- or transit-accessible.
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#4
A habitat that likely locks you into the highest possible utilities costs, as well as being car dependent, does not sound great at all when you look a bit deeper.
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#5
(08-30-2016, 05:35 AM)jeffster Wrote: It's a shame that the government, local, provincial and federal can't figure out a way that would allow working class people, or those that are on disability, to have housing that they can afford. I'm not sure what a good number is, but would 30% of a persons income be considered right for housing? So if someone earns $24,000/year, that's $2000 a month, so they'd pay $600/month for rent, all inclusive (except for cable/Internet/phone). 

Details are here:
http://www.seattle.gov/Documents/Departm...g-HOME.pdf

It's 30% excluding utilities, 35% including essential utilities (telephone, Internet and TV not included), still reasonable, I think.

The program rent range for a one-bedroom unit ranges from $847 to $1176.  At $847 it's about 30% of a $34K family income, so it's targeted at people who are working rather than those fully on social assistance.

A good overview here:
https://thenorthwesturbanist.com/2015/10...will-work/
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#6
(08-30-2016, 05:35 AM)jeffster Wrote: It's a shame that the government, local, provincial and federal can't figure out a way that would allow working class people, or those that are on disability, to have housing that they can afford.

I'm pretty sure demand and supply still works. Keep on approving high rises and I'm pretty sure we'll see the lower end of the market become cheaper.

In fact, last I heard some townhouse complexes in Lakewood were already offering some really great deals.
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#7
(08-30-2016, 01:07 PM)BuildingScout Wrote: I'm pretty sure demand and supply still works. Keep on approving high rises and I'm pretty sure we'll see the lower end of the market become cheaper.

In fact, last I heard some townhouse complexes in Lakewood were already offering some really great deals.

I agree with this. When "affordable housing" is conflated with subsidized, rent-geared-to-income units, a big piece is missing, namely the cost of all these programs and how much can be served with a given dollar of funding. If average market rents go down, subsidies can serve more people with the same budget. By far the biggest impact for the most number of people is if there is sufficient supply of a sufficient range of units - and it is cheap enough to build new ones - that there doesn't need to be a subsidy for rents to be affordable.

In cities that talk up the need for "affordable housing" and make it a negotiated condition for new developments with cross-subsidies, they make it more expensive to add new market supply. Focus on getting rid of unnecessary density limits, setbacks, and parking requirements, and you'll find that new units can be built to be a lot more affordable by default.
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#8
(08-30-2016, 10:17 PM)mpd618 Wrote: I agree with this. When "affordable housing" is conflated with subsidized, rent-geared-to-income units, a big piece is missing, namely the cost of all these programs and how much can be served with a given dollar of funding. If average market rents go down, subsidies can serve more people with the same budget. By far the biggest impact for the most number of people is if there is sufficient supply of a sufficient range of units - and it is cheap enough to build new ones - that there doesn't need to be a subsidy for rents to be affordable.

This is what Seattle is trying to address through an extended property tax holiday for affordable housing.  I think that is a reasonable cost, especially as those buildings might not get built at all otherwise (so the lost property tax revenue might not be so much in the end).

Making it easier to build more, and more dense, is good.  But more expensive units are more profitable, so at the moment most cities are in a situation where there are not enough affordable units.

I admit that it's possible that this could be done completely without subsidies, but I would like to know of some (western) cities where this has actually worked.  Anyone know of some?
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