With a vision for affordability beyond the neighborhood, Capitol Hill Housing won’t just be Capitol Hill Housing much longer

Developed in conjunction with Africatown, The Black Community Impact Alliance, and Byrd Barr Place, Capitol Hill Housing’s Liberty Bank Building opened in March

By Tim Kukes for CHS

Capitol Hill Housing held its annual meeting Tuesday at the 12th Avenue Arts building, one of several projects across Seattle created by the nonprofit developer of affordable housing.  Members of the organization gave status reports on the successes of the past year and discussed some of the challenges they were facing.  But, CEO Chris Persons did what in journalism is called “burying the lede”.

“We’re coming up with a new name,” Persons said, late in the meeting.  “Think about our name, Capitol Hill Housing, neither of those really represent what we do as an organization, so it is time after 40 years to select a different name.”

What was discussed prior to the announcement Tuesday morning illustrates the need for a new name and rebranding of the organization.  As the leadership spoke it became clear that the message was that CHH was more than in the business for providing affordable housing and its scope was beyond Capitol Hill.

As Persons put it, “Building beyond buildings.” Continue reading

As new legal fight against upzones is launched, D3 candidate says she didn’t approve group’s Valpak campaign

As a Seattle anti-growth group is launching yet another legal challenge against the city’s Mandatory Housing Affordability plan, a District 3 candidate says she didn’t approve a recent coupon envelope mailer distributed around Capitol Hill that appeared to endorse her run for the City Council while taking a swing at planned upzoning.

“My campaign did not do this, nor is it anything I would ever have budgeted for,” Pat Murakami told CHS earlier this month about the Valpak flyer warning about “loss of public view and decreased property values.”

“I never open the Valpaks that are mailed to my home, and I assume the majority of folks don’t open them either,” she said. Continue reading

Seattle back to work on easing mother-in-law apartments and backyard cottage development

Seattle can finally move forward on legislation hoped ease the city’s housing crunch by encouraging more mother-in-law apartments and backyard cottages.

The Seattle Hearing Examiner has upheld the city’s environmental analysis on accessory dwelling units is adequate, which clears the way for the City Council to act this summer on relaxing rules on the developments.

“Seattle faces an affordability and housing crisis, and we are acting to increase the supply of housing options as quickly as possible,” Mayor Durkan said. “We need to use every tool in our toolbox to boost the supply of housing – and that includes knocking down barriers for homeowners to build more backyard cottages and in-law units. We must address the significant financial barriers and lengthy, complicated permitting process for backyard cottages in Seattle.” Continue reading

SCC Insight: Seattle ‘a worst-case scenario for rent control to be introduced’

A view from above Capitol Hill, 2015

With reporting by SCCI Insight

Council member Kshama Sawant has decided that 2019 is the year to push for rent control in Seattle — even though there is still a statewide ban on it. She held a rally in April announcing that she would be introducing rent control legislation to become effective if and when the state lifts its ban, and she invited the Seattle Renters Commission to present in her committee (video here) on why they are recommending that the city implement rent control.

I’m not an economist, not a landlord, nor a renter. But since we’re having this debate, I went to the UW Library and pulled the literature on rent control so I could understand the issues, the studies, and what the experts conclude.  Here is what I found.
Continue reading

Sawant says she will make new push on Seattle rent control, ordinance against ‘Economic Evictions’

(Image: Seattle City Council)

Building on recommendations from the Seattle Renters’ Commission, City Council member Kshama Sawant announced two measures Monday aimed would alleviate some of the burden for Seattle renters. The first is a proposal to enact a Seattle rent control ordinance. The second, the Economic Evictions Assistance Ordinance, would look to protect tenants against substantial rent increases.

“We have two choices,” Sawant said at a Monday morning press conference at City Hall to announce her planned proposals. “One, just sit on our hands and expect that some day, in the distant future, the Democratic establishment will gather the courage to break from the real estate lobby and finally stand with us. We’ve done that kind of waiting for 40 years.”

“Or we can begin the fight here.” Continue reading

An ‘unheard of concession’ in the Central District at The Chateau apartments

A resident at The Chateau and the building’s long-broken lift
(Image: CHS)

District 3 representative Kshama Sawant was back outside The Chateau apartments Wednesday to announce victories for the building’s tenants and what she says is a tenants movement in Seattle inspired by the work of her City Council office and her Socialist Alternative political group.

Sawant’s Wednesday rally also included an unusual finale — a four-member team from the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections there to follow-up on a massive roster of repairs identified in what has become a staircase by staircase, frayed wire by frayed wire, and missing and or defective smoke detector by missing and or defective smoke detector battle pitting the city councilor against developer Cadence Real Estate.

Calling the 19th Ave building and the Central District the “core of Seattle” and the “epicenter of the crisis of economic evictions,” Sawant announced that her efforts to shed light on Cadence’s acquisition and planned redevelopment of the Section 8 building had “forced” the developer to meet with residents and make several concessions including allowing the Section 8 tenants to remain in their units in coming years until the building is eventually demolished to make way for a new microhousing project with 73 “small efficiency dwelling units.”

Sawant also announced what she said was an “unheard of concession” — $5,000 from Cadence to every household living in the building on top of legally required relocation assistance. The small group of tenants and representatives from groups like Be:Seattle that have also been working with the building’s interested residents gathered with Sawant cheered at the notion of the $5,000 checks. Sawant said the agreement with Cadence, as of Wednesday, still needed to be written down. Continue reading

Next affordable project for Capitol Hill Housing? Station House

CHS began the week with coverage of hope for a new start in the Central District with the opening of the equitably developed affordable housing and mixed-use project, the Liberty Bank Building. We also noted that Africatown and nonprofit developer Capitol Hill Housing were looking forward to another possible collaboration with a new Africatown Plaza project at 23rd and Spring.

But CHH’s next addition to the area’s housing mix will come at Capitol Hill Station.

Station House will create 110 homes affordable for “working families” – people making roughly between $19,000 to $55,000, depending on family size. “Units will be a mixture of studios, one, two and three bedroom units,” Capitol Hill Housing says. “The first floor will include a 1,400 square foot community space open to the neighborhood.”

The project is currently under construction at 10th and John on the northeast corner of the housing, community plaza, and retail development rising around the light rail station. CHH says the final concrete deck will be poured in early April and then the wood framing will go up. The project is currently expected to be complete in spring of 2020.

Capitol Hill Housing is also working on plans for new affordable, LGBTQ-friendly housing for low-income seniors at 14th and Union.

Last week, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan signed the city’s new expansion of its Mandatory Housing Affordability expansion into law in the lobby of Capitol Hill Housing’s 12th Ave Arts building.

Kenton Apartments tenants say they’re facing another Capitol Hill ‘economic eviction’

(Image: Milestone Tenants Fight Back)

A group of tenants is hoping to organize against the new owners of the 1926-built Capitol Hill brick apartment building they call home and fight back against what they say is an “economic eviction” underway on 16th Ave E.

“Tenants have been here as long as 11 years and we’re invested in staying in our homes in a way that is affordable and sustainable,” the Milestone Tenants Fight Back group writes. “We know the only way to do this is through our collective action and with the support of our broader community. In other words, we want to stay and fight!”

According to King County records, a company operated by Milestone Properties closed its purchase of the Kenton Apartments for $4.6 million in late January. The owner and manager of apartments in Seattle’s University District, Queen Anne, Greenwood, Interbay, Capitol Hill, Fremont, and Wallingford neighborhoods purchased the 300-block 16th Ave E property from its longtime family owners. Continue reading

‘Replanting’ — Liberty Bank Building’s opening hoped to be new start in the Central District

More than 100 new affordable homes — and the start of what many hope will be a wave of equitable development across the Central District — are now full of life in the Liberty Bank Building. The development led by nonprofit developer Capitol Hill Housing and community development group Africatown celebrated with a ribbon cutting, party, and tours Saturday at 24th and Union.

“This neighborhood and this street means so much to me,” building contractor, neighborhood activist, and, now, Liberty Bank Building resident Ted Evans said. “It’s just surreal to be able to live here and raise my son and be part of this redevelopment and being part of this creation that we’re starting, you know, to bring it back home. This is where I started — I was born here.”

“There is power here,” Evans said. Continue reading

Celebrate equitable, affordable development in the Central District at Liberty Bank Building ribbon cutting

The Liberty Bank Building, what many hope will be a model for equitable, affordable development in Seattle, will celebrate its opening with a ribbon cutting ceremony Saturday in the Central District.

Liberty Bank Building Ribbon Cutting Celebration

Saturday’s party will include live music and performances, and food.

Named to honor the region’s first Black-owned bank that once stood at the corner, the six-story, 115-unit affordable housing development is a collaboration between Capitol Hill HousingAfricatownThe Black Community Impact Alliance, and Byrd Barr Place. Continue reading