Fill the Missing Middle and Expand All Types of Housing

The MHA Upzone promises to produce much-needed affordable housing, but we need to be doing more. Currently, in areas not zoned for single family houses, only townhouses and large apartment or condo buildings are being built, but we also need “light density” options to fill the missing middle of housing, like duplexes, triplexes, and small multi-family buildings with single floor living for ADA accessibility and for seniors to age in place.

We also must take empty apartments and hotels—which exist throughout the city—and incentivize property owners through programs like Economic Opportunity Zone tax deferral so that those empty units can be occupied again.

 

Build New Supportive Housing for the Chronically Homeless

Those who are chronically homeless—around 2000 of our neighbors—are our most vulnerable residents. We are already paying to assist them but in temporary ways that contributes to their suffering and increases our long-term investment. Let’s work with King County to create a bond for 500 million dollars and create supportive housing for all of our chronically homeless with wraparound services—including mental health and addiction recovery services—and provide the stability and support these residents need for a better future. We can repay that bond with general fund dollars, offsetting what we are already paying to serve these residents. This focus on permanent supportive housing will result in less suffering and better long-term outcomes.

 

Help Renters Stay in Their Homes

Often renters are living month-to-month and one financial emergency or rent increase may put them at risk for eviction. While I believe there should be market influences on all housing to create a healthy, vigorous rental market, I too believe that renters should have three month notice on any rent increases, and that those increases should be no more than 10% a year. We must also provide financial assistance for renters to help bridge an emergency and offer robust legal support so they can compete on an even playing field with landlords, especially in Seattle’s expensive and volatile housing market.

 

Expand the LEAD Diversion Program

Many “familiar faces” to law enforcement are or have recently been homeless. Some say we should throw the book at these people, but it’s clear our current approach of more prosecution isn’t working and it’s weighing our entire criminal system down with few benefits for anyone.

To get people into long-term housing, we first have to address the underlying issues that put them out into the streets in the first place, most crucially mental health and addiction issues. LEAD is a successful diversion program that puts people in front of a case manager, not a judge, and since the police and prosecutors are also a part of this rehabilitation process, it creates an incentive for participants to avoid any further contact with the criminal justice system. The LEAD program connects people with the services they need and creates the stability necessary to have more long-term success, leading to fewer interactions with law enforcement and limiting the resource intensive problem propelled by regular cycling in and out of the system.

 

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