SEATTLE – As Seattle continues to grow, so does the need for more affordable housing.
On Monday night, members of the Seattle City Council talked with people who live in several southeast Seattle residents about the issue of affordability, specifically in Seattle’s District 2, which includes the neighborhoods of Mount Baker, Beacon Hill and Georgetown.
“It’s a great place for families like mine,” said Brian Lloyd, who has lived in the Mount Baker neighborhood for 15 years. “Oh, it’s changed a lot."
Lloyd says adding affordable housing to the area would mean his two young boys, twin first-graders now, would be able to grow up in a neighborhood where diversity is welcome, where people of all incomes can live inclusively.
He worries if affordable housing doesn’t increase, “We’ll end up being like Boulder, Colorado, or San Francisco, and people will either be really rich or really poor and we want a broader swath of experience."
At the public meeting Monday night, dozens of people voiced their opinions to City Council members Bruce Harrell, Rob Johnson and Teresa Mosqueda.
“I’ve lived in Seattle my whole life. I’ve seen houses go from about $150,000 when I was a kid to almost a million dollars now. I don’t make near enough to buy a million-dollar house, and I’d like to live somewhere where I don’t have to have roommates,” said Brian Kelly, who is in support of more affordable housing in Seattle’s 2nd District.
The council highlighted a 10-year goal to create 6,000 affordable housing units. Those who would qualify would need to make 60% or less of the average income, which would be about $57,000 for a family of four.
People against affordable housing say the council needs to look at all of its impact from families, children to seniors.
“You’re adding all these units and schools aren’t being added fast enough,” one woman against affordable housing said, adding that more units would mean more children in the area and asked the council to consider the impact on the education system as schools in the area are already overcrowded.
“It seems like a mass extinction of seniors, middle-income earners, Asians, Hispanics and blacks, to be replaced by young white and high-income workers,” said an elderly woman who is against more affordable housing in the area.
As split as the auditorium was Monday night, most people agreed that mandatory housing affordability would not be a solution for homelessness, but it could make a dent in the crisis.
“Homelessness is a unique problem and I don’t think MHA will solve that, but it will take the pressure off the housing market if we’re creating more affordable units,” said Lloyd.