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Seattle mayor, council pushes forward affordable housing plan

A proposal for widespread upzones hopes to increase affordable housing in Seattle. (AP)

Mayor Tim Burgess and Councilmember Rob Johnson unveiled an expansion to the city’s affordable housing plan, paving the way for more construction and taller buildings around Seattle.

You can view an interactive map of the upzone plan here.

“Today we continue our push to address Seattle’s housing affordability crisis,” Burgess said. “With this plan, we will extend our requirement that new developments contribute to Seattle’s affordable housing supply. We’ve already implemented this requirement in the University District, downtown, and elsewhere. Now it’s time to bring this requirement to other high-opportunity neighborhoods so that we can hasten our progress in building a more inclusive and equitable city.”

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The affordable housing proposal works toward the city’s Mandatory Housing Affordability policy (MHA). It would expand low-income housing requirements on developers in Seattle to create at least 6,000 new rent-restricted homes in the next decade. The council has already approved such a proposal in six Seattle neighborhoods. The latest move would expand construction in 27 urban villages around the city. Zoning in those 27 neighborhoods would affect all zones blocked off for apartments and commercial buildings.

Under the Mandatory Housing Affordability policy, developers would be forced to build low-income housing or pay fees to help the city create that housing elsewhere. Most zones blocked for single-family housing would not be affected by the proposal.

The cost of a rent-restricted two-bedroom apartment for a family of four earning $57,600 would be $1,296 under the MHA policy, the mayor’s office notes. A one-bedroom would cost $1,008 for an individual renter who earns less than $40,320.

The proposal is slated for city council consideration. The council will discuss it in 2018.

“I’m excited to be one step closer on this key strategy which will create thousands of rent and income-restricted homes as we grow,” Councilmember Johnson said. “Over the coming months, I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues and the community as we implement MHA citywide.”

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