Sawant $12M Tiny House Village proposal: Public hearing Thursday night

Rev. Lawrence R. Willis, True Vine of Holiness Missionary Baptist Church at Tuesday’s gathering at True Hope Village (Image: @jonathan4212)

A Kshama Sawant led Seattle City Council committee will hold a public hearing Thursday night on the District 3 representative’s legislation to expand funding for Tiny House Villages and block relocation of existing villages.

The proposal would move $12 million to expand the villages at 20 locations across the city and scuttle plans to remove two existing villages in Georgetown and Northlake. But the legislation faced opposition over possible State Environmental Policy Act appeals before it was even introduced. The Hearing Examiner case to unwind the legal issues is still underway with a hearing scheduled for December — well after the upcoming General Election.

Sawant’s proposal would forge a path for the village expansion by exempting religious organizations from permitting requirements for encampments on property owned or controlled by them. Continue reading

Seattle City Council Insight: City reports on performance of homeless response programs in first half of 2019

From SCC Insight

This week, HSD Interim Director Jason Johnson delivered a report to the City Council on the performance of the city’s homeless-response programs through the first half of 2019. There was some good news.

Johnson began by reminding the Council that the goal of the city’s homelessness response is to make homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring. To that end, he explained how the department’s programs successfully served more people in the first half of 2019:

  • HSD-funded programs prevented 461 households, representing 704 individuals, from becoming homeless, an increase of 20% over the same period in 2018.
  • 1,936 households, representing 3,042 individuals, moved from homelessness to housing, a 6% increase from the year before.
  • 2,127 unique households that have experienced chronic homelessness — often the most challenging people to help out of homelessness — remained stably housed in Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH), a program which pairs housing with wrap-around case management and services. According to Johnson, the city’s PSH programs have a 90% success rate in keeping people housed.

Johnson credited this to having fully ramped-up programs in place; you may recall, HSD ran an RFP in 2017 to re-bid its homeless-response contracts, and in the first half of 2018 those awardees launched programs under the new contracts. 2019 is the first time that the new awardees started the year at full capacity, so in retrospect it’s no surprise that they are performing better — but still great to see. In addition, the “rate of exit” to permanent housing from many of HSD’s programs improved over the previous year, suggesting that they are getting incrementally better at what they do. Continue reading

Capitol Hill Housing has eight new name ideas to bounce off you

Capitol Hill Housing’s quest for a new name to reflect its work beyond its birth neighborhood is ready for the next phase.

Through October 14th, the nonprofit developer of affordable housing communities is collecting feedback on eight options and weighing how they reflect against the organization’s key values: Continue reading

With redevelopment process rolling forward, deal will give low income residents opportunity to stay in the Central District

The future of the Chateau

Thursday night, the development process set to replace the former Section 8 subsidized Chateau Apartments in the Central District will grind forward with another early design review but residents of the old building got some welcome news earlier in the week with a plan that will provide them with new housing opportunities in the neighborhood thanks to the Low Income Housing Institute.

Developer Cadence Real Estate announced what it called a partnership with the Low Income Housing Institute “that will enable all Section 8 residents at the Chateau Apartment building in the Central Area to stay in the neighborhood.” Continue reading

20% inflation vs. a 69% rise in Seattle rents: Sawant’s rent control legislation unveiled

Between 2010 and 2018 average rent in the Seattle area rose 69% while inflation in the same region rose just over 20%.

This is a statistic that came up time and again Monday night at City Hall as Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant released a draft of her controversial rent control proposal that would tie increased rents to the rate of inflation.

“That’s unjust,” Rev. Angela Ying, senior pastor at Bethany United Church of Christ, said at a press conference before the hearing after citing the stat. “That is just plain unjust.”

The unveiling came at a council committee meeting her office has been planning for months as the incumbent’s bid for reelection has made rent control a rallying cry. No other committee members or city council members attended the Monday night special session.

Continue reading

Durkan’s 2020 budget proposal tips $6.5B with big boost from the Megablock and smaller items like Convention Center cash for Lambert House

(Image: City of Seattle)

There were small bits of good news for Capitol Hill and the Central District sprinkled into larger chunks of progress in Mayor Jenny Durkan’s $6.5 billion 2020 Seattle budget proposal unveiled Monday.

“We must do more to lift each other up. We must build more housing, especially housing near transit, so that the nurse assistants, restaurant workers, and the teachers right in this building can live in the city they make great,” Durkan said in her speech on the 2020 proposal given Monday morning at Franklin High School.

Some of the big gains — and small, too — in the proposal come from “one-time” revenue infusions. “For example, the sale of the Mercer Megablock properties and payments to the City associated with the expansion of the Washington State Convention Center have provided significant resources for both housing and transportation investments,” the budget proposal’s executive summary reads.

A good example easily lost in the $6.5 billion worth of line items is $500,000 earmarked for Capitol Hill’s Lambert House. CHS reported last year on the queer youth nonprofit’s efforts to purchase the 15th Ave house it calls home. The 2020 budget will put proceeds from street vacations associated with expansion of the Washington State Convention Center to boost the effort: Continue reading

Everything you always wanted to know about Sawant’s rent control bid but were afraid to ask

Sawant’s check boxes from 2017 could add another check in 2020 — though “TAX THE RICH” needs more work

Monday night, the Seattle City Council’s Renter’s Rights Committee, chaired by District 3 representative Kshama Sawant, will discuss draft legislation for rent control at City Hall during a public hearing. It’s a cornerstone moment in the final months of her term and in her race to retain her seat in November.

Sawant’s draft legislation follows her six-year-old call for rent control, a 2015 City Council resolution supporting the repeal of a State-wide rent control ban, plus an April letter from the Seattle’s Renters’ Commission urging the council and Mayor Jenny Durkan to pass a rent control ordinance in Seattle.

In the letter, the commission’s co-chairs noted that “the unpredictability and rate of rent increases in the past decade has caused a massive burden on renters which has led to both homelessness and displacement of Seattleites.”

So, what does rent control mean to Sawant?

It’s an umbrella term that can mean different things depending on specific rules and regulations. Overall, rent control, in some cases also called rent stabilization, means limiting rent increases. This can happen in various ways: it can be tied to inflation, the cap can apply only per tenancy or beyond the duration of a tenancy, and come with or without restrictions on evictions. Some include only buildings of a certain age and exempt new buildings.

Here are a few more questions about the whole thing — and as many answers as we have heading into Monday night’s session.

What does Sawant propose? Sawant’s office remained tight-lipped about the details of the draft legislation ahead of the committee meeting on Monday. What is clear: rent increases would be tied to inflation (around 2% or 3% per year), and the legislation will be “free of corporate loopholes.”  Continue reading

With its work focused well beyond 12th Ave, Broadway, and Pike/Pine, Capitol Hill Housing asks for help finding new name

Dancers at the opening of Capitol Hill Housing’s 12th Ave Arts

CHS reported earlier this year on how Capitol Hill Housing is expanding its vision for affordability beyond its home neighborhood. With the new horizons will come a new name for the 12th Ave-headquartered nonprofit developer. CHH is now asking for a little help:

It’s time! We are ready to create a new name for our organization that better reflects our geographic reach and how we’ve grown and changed. Capitol Hill Housing (CHH) has served and worked alongside generations of low- and moderate-income folks to improve their neighborhoods since 1976. While our history is rooted in Capitol Hill, today we partner with communities across the Seattle area—from the Central District to White Center to Lake City. We envision Seattle as a place where everyone—from teachers and artists to seniors on fixed incomes to young families—can set down roots and thrive. Our mission in service to that vision is to build vibrant and engaged communities.

You can add your five ideas by September 16th here. Continue reading

Seattle City Council Insight: Sawant looks to expand sanctioned encampments and tiny house villages, but faces SEPA appeal

A summer “Tent City” at St. Joseph’s in 2016

From SCC Insight

While her call for rent control is featured on her campaign posters, Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant is pursuing another, smaller solution for housing and affordability for Seattle’s most vulnerable — a bill that would expand the city’s ability to establish additional “tiny house” villages and issue permits for more sanctioned homeless encampments.

Her bill has already been tied up in land-use bureaucracy.

Sawant’s bill adjusts the regulations for permitting encampments, of both the tent- and “tiny home” based varieties. It relaxes the rules for where in the city they could be set up, and increases the maximum permitted number of encampments to 40. But since it is a land-use ordinance, it is subject to State Environmental Policy Act review, meaning that the city needs to fill out the SEPA checklist and either make a Determination of Non-significance (DNS), or write a full-blown SEPA Environmental Impact Statement if there are significant expected impacts.

The appeals have become a popular tool for opposing new development and zoning changes in Seattle and cost filers less than a hundred dollars to begin the process.

At the beginning of August, the Council’s Central Staff issued a DNS for the proposed legislation. And Elizabeth Campbell, who is well-known for her legal challenges to the Council’s land-use actions, once again filed an appeal of the DNS with the Hearing Examiner — according to Sawant, thirteen minutes before the filing deadline. That prevents the Council from moving forward with Sawant’s bill until the Hearing Examiner rules on Campbell’s appeal.

Here’s what Sawant’s proposed bill does: Continue reading

With vision for ‘African American communities and spaces of the future,’ Africatown Plaza will be next to take shape in the Central District

The coming Africatown Plaza at Midtown

23rd and Union’s Africatown mural (Image: Africatown)

Community members met this week for an all-day design symposium at Washington Hall in the Central District to plan “African American communities and spaces of the future” around the Puget Sound.

The event follows a major development in the Central District with the opening of the Liberty Bank Building and comes as the early design process for Africatown Plaza at Midtown, another fully affordable development around the 23rd and Union core, is about to begin.

“Overall, working to make sure that we still have a heart and soul and a place of unity and community,” the Africatown Community Land Trust’s K. Wyking Garrett said Saturday, before giving a shout out to last weekend’s Umoja Fest Parade, a Central Area staple since the 1940s. He wants Africatown, however, to be more than just these major celebrations, but places “where we can experience Black culture, Black music, Black culinary genius from throughout the diaspora.” Continue reading