On Monday, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced the first round of joint state and local investments of $50 million to rapidly create new income- and rent-restricted housing in Seattle.
According to officials, the 165 new homes across three new buildings will be ready for tenants this fall and will serve individuals and young adults experiencing homelessness or at extreme risk of homelessness. Seattle’s local investment of $25 million is matched by funding from the Washington State Department of Commerce’s new Rapid Capital Housing Acquisition program.
“Our homelessness crisis has always been a housing crisis. The City of Seattle continues to make bold investments to address our homelessness crisis as quickly as possible. With this latest investment, we are building on a completely new approach that has the potential to become a national model for rapidly creating affordable housing,” said Durkan. “Over the next year, more than 1,300 homes will come online to support our neighbors facing the most extreme challenges. With continued partnership, we can further find innovative ways to bring more people into housing in record time.”
While planning and construction for an affordable multifamily rental housing development can take up to several years to complete, Seattle’s current real estate market presents unique opportunities to acquire newly constructed market-rate apartment buildings and quickly convert them to affordable housing. From the time the funding was announced in June 2021, to the time the last building is expected to be ready for occupancy this fall, a small fraction of the typical development timeline will have passed.
“We know everyone feels the urgency of bringing our unsheltered neighbors indoors, and these rapid acquisition units are one way to meet this challenge. Commerce will continue working in close collaboration with legislators and local partners around the state to expand affordable housing and shelter opportunities that provide people safety and stability to get back on their feet,” said Lisa Brown, Director of the Washington State Department of Commerce.
In June 2021, City Council passed and Mayor Durkan signed a joint proposal that included $28.5 million from the American Rescue Plan for the acquisition of housing. This is the first round of acquisitions, with more announcements expected in the coming weeks to leverage the $28.5 million in the Seattle Rescue Plan. The first round of awards announced for the City’s Rapid Acquisition funds will be used to acquire and convert to affordable housing three newly constructed buildings located in Capitol Hill. Two of the buildings acquired will be owned and operated by the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI). The third property will be owned by LIHI and operated by YouthCare.
“These grants represent a new path for the state to partner with local governments, non-profits and the private sector more aggressively to make more units available rapidly – not in three or four years but within months,” said Sen. David Frockt (D-Seattle). “The housing that these projects are bringing online is critical. I am under no illusions that this is easy or that every placement is 100% successful. But the crisis is right before our eyes and has been for years, and this is an important step, the first of many to come, to bring housing to those who need it most.”
To facilitate future building acquisitions and continue responding to the urgent need for permanent affordable housing in Seattle, the Office of Housing will continue to accept applications for funding on a rolling basis. Durkan has announced 1,300 new units of affordable housing which are expected to open beginning this Fall, which includes units created through an innovative pilot program announced last year.
“Youth Care is excited to partner with the Low-Income Housing Institute to provide critical support to young adults experiencing homelessness,” said Degale Cooper Chief Program and Impact Officer for YouthCare. “The path to stability starts with access to safe and dignified housing. When young people can live in normalized communities with supportive services, they are more likely to be successful and have ongoing housing stability. We are grateful for this strong expression of support of our young people experiencing homelessness.”