Report: Number of Seattle renters on par with number of homeowners

Jan 6, 2020, 1:52 PM | Updated: 4:10 pm

Seattle’s rapidly changing demographics has long been evident in the renting and owning habits of residents adjusting to the local economy, with people increasingly renting and sometimes unable to afford to live in the city.

A new report from The Seattle Times shows just how much this shift has occurred, with census data indicating that 360,000 Seattle residents lived in rental units in 2018, a 16 percent rise from five years ago, and leaving Seattle renters about even with homeowners.

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“Now what you’ll see is young people that are coming in and they’re not necessarily dedicated, they’re not tied down with a kid,” said KIRO Radio’s John Curley.

“They’re eating avocado toast, they have bad work habits, they’re looking up everything they need to fix on Google,” joked co-host Mike Lewis.

The census data shows that three out of four new Seattle residents are under the age of 40, and many are not in a financial position to start a family or own a home, which tends to impact their political and cultural priorities.

Seattle ranks 11th in the country when it comes to delivering new apartments, with a 3.5 percent increase between 2017 and 2018 (Seattle actually produced 11 percent fewer apartments in 2018 than 2017).

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“What it means is that you have people in town,” said Lewis. “It’s not so much that they’re not going to be here for a while — you have people who have been in town for 20 years, as renters like you do in New York — what you have is that their priorities start shifting, and they are much more inclined to vote for denser zoning, things like that homeowners get very sensitive about because everybody moves into a neighborhood and then wants to shut the door behind them and keep that neighborhood exactly as it was when they moved in.”

Listen to the Tom and Curley Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. to noon on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

John Curley and Shari Elliker on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
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Report: Number of Seattle renters on par with number of homeowners