City of Seattle hopes to move forward with affordable housing proposal near Magnolia’s Fort Lawton

SEATTLE — Demand for affordable housing in Seattle is rising—and the supply is slimmer than ever.

Right now, land in the Magnolia area of Fort Lawton, next to Discovery Park, is a rare undeveloped space.

The city hopes it’s a spot that could be the next site to a much-needed solution.

“It’s really in line with the city’s goal to create an affordable and livable community in Magnolia that provides opportunities for low-income people,” said Emily Alvarado, policy manager for Seattle’s Office of Housing.

The city wants to move forward with one of four proposals for the future of Fort Lawton, specifically hoping to create a mix of affordable housing, parks and open space. Tuesday night, the city pitched that plan to a standing-room-only crowd of more than 250 people at a public hearing at the Magnolia United church of Christ.

Many in the crowd Tuesday supported the idea to build 82 units of senior support housing, 100 rental units and 52 new affordable homes.

"This is a key opportunity to use publicly owned land to help provide opportunities for low-income people," said Alvarado. "We obviously don’t have too much land in this city and we have a chance to create housing across the continuum."

Housing for someone like Susan Russell, who was in attendance.

Russell says life would be much different for her had she not gotten into affordable housing after nearly seven years homeless.

"I wouldn’t be alive. I wouldn’t be alive. That’s the reality of it. I've lost a lot of friends," said Russell, in tears.

Many of those in attendance agreed with her.

"I get it. It's hard to see people suffering when you have a roof over your head. It's hard when your every need is met instead of the needs of others-- other than yourself," said one man in open comment.  "But it's not nearly as hard as living outside! We're in a church here. A church who's highest commandment is to love thy neighbor--I suggest you try it," he finished, followed by a loud round of applause.

But others who live in Magnolia aren’t so sure.

"So far, just about everybody that got up there--nobody is from Magnolia," said Lori Snider, who's lived here for the past 12 years. "The very few of us who are here from Magnolia were all opposed to it."

Bradley Scarp has lived in Magnolia for more than 25 years. He say's his biggest frustrations or concerns aren't the crime rates, or potential loss in property or home values going down--he just thinks the city doesn’t have answers to some pretty important questions.

"Just to park a lot of people in a very remote area--that’s not good planning," said Scarp. "Transportation, stores, services for low-income and homeless--there are none and there's not a place for any. And you have people who are going to commute….How?"

Tuesday night's public hearing was just part of the mandatory 45-day public comment period.

You can still submit comments to the city through the end of the month before a final environmental impact study is submitted to the Seattle City Council, which will make a final decision later this summer.