“We do know that homeowners have participated more in the past. but we’re also looking for folks who are generally not participating in these kinds of conversations.”
As the Seattle City Council begins to slowly sift through and implement the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda committee’s recommendations to address the city’s housing supply, city departments are conducting public outreach on HALA — partly through community focus groups made up of members of the public. While for many currently living on Capitol Hill, any improvements will likely come long after we’re priced out of the neighborhood, the optimistic and altruistic should consider joining the fight.
Also, the city needs you! The most recent applicant demographic breakdown from the department of neighborhoods reveals a skewed applicant pool. Out of a total of 238 applicants to date, those from the north Seattle neighborhoods of Wallingford, Phinney-Ridge, and Ballard are still overly represented (with 26, 20, and 18 applicants respectively). Next up is the area surrounding 23rd Ave between Union and Jackson in the Central District with 13 applicants, then North Beacon Hill with 12 and Capitol Hill with 9 (or 4% of the total applicants). Other neighborhoods throughout the city have pitched eight or fewer applicants.
Kathy Nyland, director of the Department of Neighborhoods, says that even though the applicant demographics are skewed, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the final composition of the focus groups will be similarly disproportional. The ideal is to have a healthy mix of both renters, homeowners, and “traditionally underrepresented groups including minorities, immigrants, refugees, and non-native English speakers.” There are no minimum quotas for each of those demographics, but diversity will be kept in mind while choosing applicants, Nyland said.
“We do know that homeowners have participated more in the past. but we’re also looking for folks who are generally not participating in these kinds of conversations,” said Nyland.
The focus groups are still being put together and the Department of Neighborhoods is currently accepting applications from interested citizens until February 26th. Their stated purpose is to “guide implementation of the [HALA] agenda.” “We are asking residents from neighborhoods across the city to participate as volunteers to inform the HALA process. A key focus of the Community Focus Groups will be land use and zoning changes that could affect neighborhoods,” the application for interested citizens reads. Continue reading