John Curley: Social housing will not work in Seattle

Feb 18, 2023, 12:25 PM | Updated: 2:08 pm
Social housing...
In the future, housing like this could turn into social housing. (Photo by Bill Kaczaraba)
(Photo by Bill Kaczaraba)

The social housing initiative looks like it will pass in Seattle. The initiative would create a social housing developer, who will be able to own, acquire, and maintain social housing in Seattle. The initiative defines “social housing” as mixed-income, permanently affordable housing, where tenants have a say in how it’s run.

John Curley on KIRO Newsradio’s John Curley and Shari Elliker show said, “How many people here really are taking advantage of some of the other things that we have offered? If you looked at all the numbers and you made a real decision based upon real facts rather than feelings, you might go there.”

John said that even The Seattle Times came out with an editorial stating they didn’t support the initiative. The article read, “There is no price tag because funding is uncertain. Its business model is unrealistic. Its governing structure unworkable.”

Despite that, he said people living in Seattle like turning to the government to solve their problems.

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“The social housing thing is popular in Europe. I know that in Switzerland, they have it, and it’s mostly about rent control,” Shari Elliker said. “So rent is capped at about 30% of the tenant’s income. So that means that if somebody is only making X amount of money, they’re paying 30% versus the same unit, somebody is making a lot more money paying 30% of their unit.”

John said there was another problem with the initiative.

“The other thing that it often does with these different programs is it caps the person and reduces the incentive for the person to make more,” John claims. “The boss says, ‘We can give you a raise,’ you say, ‘Well, I don’t want a raise because if I get a raise, all of a sudden, I fall off the cliff of entitlements. You make $10 more or $1,000 more, you start to lose a whole bunch of benefits that you don’t have to pay for. But everybody else has to pay for it. Don’t forget, King County’s been at almost a billion dollars a year on homeless.”

John said the problem with social programs about homelessness is the solution is not just about providing a temporary living space to get them back on their feet.

“My argument is always I understand if somebody’s got problems, you have to address the reason that they are homeless. And the idea that we’re going to put them in these apartments, now they’re in apartments, and they still have a drug problem, or they still have mental problems,” John said. “You don’t have enough social workers. And we will attract lots and lots and lots of people because you may be homeless, but you’re not dumb, you’ll go to where it is better.”

Listen to John Curley and Shari Elliker weekday afternoons from 3 – 7 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

John Curley and Shari Elliker on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
  • listen to tom and curleyTune in to KIRO Newsradio weekdays at 3pm for John Curley and Shari Elliker.

John Curley and Shari Elliker

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John Curley: Social housing will not work in Seattle