Study of Seattle evictions shows disproportionate impacts to women, Black renters

CHS found a woman’s possessions spread across a parking strip off 12th Ave after a 2017 eviction (Image: CHS)

A newly released report from the commission that has Mayor Jenny Durkan’s ear on women’s issues in the city digs into a year’s worth of data around evictions in Seattle and shows that women tenants make up more than 80% of cases in which a small amount of money costs a renter their home in Seattle. The study of 2017 eviction cases in the Seattle city limits also shows how unfair the process is to Black renters who are evicted at a rate 4.5 times what would be expected based on Seattle demographics. Meanwhile, more than 17% of the city’s 1,218 evictions came here in the neighborhoods of Seattle City Council District 3 — the third highest total in the study. By ZIP Code, one of the largest clusters of evictions in the city in 2017 came in the 98122 area covering the Central District.

“Eviction proceedings, also known as ‘unlawful detainers,’ are scheduled every day in the King County Superior Court, and while this eviction machine is unseen by the majority of the city, the results reverberate far outside the courthouse,” the report from the Seattle Women’s Commission and the Housing Justice Project begins. “While a month of unpaid rent might be an inconvenience for a landlord, an eviction can mean life or death for a tenant. National research shows eviction is one of the leading causes of homelessness.”

The groups held a press conference to announce the findings — and the study’s conclusions on what to do about the impact of evictions — Thursday morning at Seattle City Hall. The Housing Justice Project is a homelessness prevention program providing legal services for low-income tenants facing eviction while the Seattle Women’s Commission is an advisory body to the mayor, city council, and City Hall departments.

Gina Owens talked about life as a single mother renting in Seattle and what happened when she and her daughter were evicted. “One emergency, one missed paycheck” is the difference between a home and living in the streets in Seattle, she said.

A full copy of the report is below but here are some of the main findings: Continue reading

Those actually might be ‘condos’ after all: Conversions part of Capitol Hill condominium wave

The Atrium at 11th and Aloha wasn’t not developed as condos — but it wasn’t exactly planned that way, either (Images: CHS)

More condominiums than you think are coming to Capitol Hill. And it turns out one key element widely reported as a throttle on condo development may not be the safeguard against building conversion that it was thought to be.

The Neighborhood Collection — a marketing campaign for a set of three new Seattle buildings including two on Capitol Hill originally developed and designed as rental housing — says its new buildings provide “a highly engaging lifestyle” where “residents will enjoy an array of amenities for gathering, unwinding and turnkey living.” The projects are currently lining up prospective buyers for “the studio, urban one bedroom and one bedroom flats and lofts” offered “from the $400,000s to more than $800,000.”

But that wasn’t the original plan. Continue reading

‘Keep public land in public hands for public good’ — Seattle looks for path to use surplus city land for affordable housing

“The Mercer Megablock”

During Wednesday afternoon’s Seattle City Council finance and neighborhoods committee hearing, the council members and housing advocates will discuss revised policies and procedures for dealing with city-owned surplus land, building on a resolution sponsored by Council member Teresa Mosqueda that allows Seattle City Light “to sell surplus property for affordable housing purposes at a price and on terms and conditions negotiated by City Light, and as approved by the City Council through ordinance authorizing such disposition,” according to the resolution.

“Keep public land in public hands for public good,” Laura Loe Bernstein, founder of Share The Cities, said “This is the bare minimum we should be doing to prevent the next housing crisis.” Continue reading

Report looks at how best to deal with Seattle’s vacant buildings — including ideas for temporary housing

The notorious “Biohazard House” of Belmont Ave

Seattle’s relentless redevelopment also means loads of buildings sitting vacant as developers line up permits and financing windows open and close and open again.

Wednesday morning, the Seattle City Council will receive a report on proposals for better monitoring of Seattle’s vacant buildings including how the city might penalize landlords who let their properties turn into dangerous eyesores and, better yet, how it might strengthen early efforts to connect vacant properties to organizations that can help put them to use providing temporary but much needed housing. Continue reading

Capitol Hill Station development not tall or affordable enough for you? Sound Transit approves deals for more

The Sound Transit Board approved the nitty gritty business terms of two deals Thursday that will create hundreds of affordable housing units a short walk or a First Hill Streetcar ride away from its Capitol Hill Station light rail facility.

Terms approved Thursday in one deal are worthy of the most complicated baseball trade involving a four-way swap between Sound Transit, Seattle Central and the state community college system, and Capitol Hill Housing.

  • Sound Transit will convey Site D to the College Parties in exchange for the Atlas Site. Sound Transit will then convey the Atlas Site to CHH for a mixed-use, affordable housing development that meets the requirements of RCW 81.112.350. Continue reading

What has bubbled to the top of ’30 ideas’ for saving — and developing — Seattle studios, galleries, and music venues

Not everything is about preservation. The new Hugo House is set to open soon on 11th Ave.

As Seattle once again wrestles with the fragility of its arts spaces in the face of continued growth, change, and development, the Seattle City Council this week heard an update on City Hall’s efforts to preserve and grow the number of studios, galleries, and performance venues on Capitol Hill and across the city.

Tuesday, the Seattle Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development & Arts Committee convened to discuss the cultural space access and stabilization project currently being undertaken by the Office of Arts and Culture (ARTS).

ARTS has been working for the past eight months to implement concepts proposed in The CAP Report: 30 Ideas for the Creation, Activation and Preservation of Cultural Space (PDF), which was published by ARTS last year. ARTS is assessing the feasibility of the project and working on a racial equity toolkit to ensure the communities of color that will be impacted have their voices heard.

Council member Lisa Herbold, chair of the committee, expressed her support for the project and its research.

“Our ability to preserve cultural spaces is really important,” Herbold said. “It goes beyond one particular threatened cultural space and we really need to figure out what the tools are that we have available.” Continue reading

Rental study finds challenging times for Seattle renters *and* landlords — and confirms what you probably already assumed about Capitol Hill’s new, larger buildings: They charge more

(Image: Excelsior Apartments)

Outcomes of a new effort at City Hall to study rental housing trends show challenges for both tenants and landlords — and that larger developments are asking for higher rents than smaller buildings.

A group of researchers from the University of Washington surveyed both landlords and renters in the Seattle area to learn about the state of the rental market and the effectiveness of recent ordinances enacted by the City Council.

While the Seattle Rental Housing Study did not deal with broader trends, such as overall rent prices, it did deal with the attitudes of those involved in the rental market. The research was required by two city ordinances passed in 2016 and included in the 2017 budget. Ordinance 125114 prohibits unfair practices for screening and choosing tenants and Ordinance 125222 limits security deposits and non-refundable move-in fees.

Despite their goal of aiding renters, the team’s focus groups had no familiarity with the new ordinances and were skeptical about their effectiveness.

“All of the renters that we spoke to in all of the focus groups, they expressed a high level of barriers to housing access,” research lead Kyle Crowder said at a July 24th meeting of the Seattle City Council’s renters rights committee about recent movers his team surveyed,

The barriers renters are referring to are more numerous than just the lack of affordability in Seattle, but that was one of the most frequently cited issues.

“The renters that we spoke to in our focus groups feel squeezed financially by the housing market,” Crowder, a professor of sociology at the UW, said at the meeting. “That was a common theme.”

Other problems mentioned by renters were a “lack of transparency in application/leasing process” and discrimination based on race, ethnicity, or source of income, especially for voucher recipients, according to the study. Continue reading

The Eldridge, preservation plus seven stories on Broadway — and in ‘the sweet spot’ of affordability

(Image: Mithun)

Local community members got the first look at plans for The Eldridge, a preservation-friendly seven-story affordable housing development on the property of the auto row-era Eldridge Tire building, located on the 1500 block of Broadway between Pike and Pine, earlier this month at a meeting of the Pike Pine Urban Neighborhood Council.

Walter Zisette, the associate director of real estate development at Capitol Hill Housing, one of the developers of the project, said that the level of planned affordable housing is in “the sweet spot” compared to other developments in the neighborhood. Continue reading

For first time in forever, developer planning a new Capitol Hill condo building

The Capitol Hill condo project will be a twin to this development already underway in Eastlake (Image: Build Urban)

They’re far from frozen but industry analysts claim Seattle’s rents have finally cooled. Want further proof? A Seattle developer has announced plans to pass over the lucrative rental market and take on all the risk — and, hopefully, all of the reward — of building a condominium building on Capitol Hill.

A planned six-story condominium development at 127 Bellevue E will be made up of 44 small, relatively inexpensive units you can buy, not rent.

“The plan is to provide affordable, walkable, sustainable housing in a city that has a shortage of inventory in core locations,” Ed Gallaudet, president of developer Build Urban, said. Continue reading

Africatown gets $1M+ boost from Seattle’s first Equitable Development grants

Africatown has been awarded a major grant as part of more than $5 million in funding for equitable development in Seattle.

“Seattle is facing an affordability crisis, which has displaced far too many and left behind many of our neighborhoods and businesses,” Mayor Jenny Durkan said about the grants. “To tackle these challenges, our City is investing in community organizations who are leading the way in creating true economic vitality and opportunity within Seattle’s most underserved communities.”

Africatown will receive $1,075,000 for “capacity-building” and “development expenses to include affordable commercial space to the Midtown affordable housing project,” according to the City of Seattle announcement of the award. Continue reading