Affordable-housing, renter-protection proposals advancing in King County Council

News release from the King County Council:

A major renter protection and affordable housing package moved forward on Tuesday when a King County Council committee passed the first of four pieces of legislation.

“This package of legislation is a major step in the right direction to protect the most disenfranchised residents in King County,” said King County Councilmember Larry Gossett, who championed the package. “If this legislation is approved, King County can be a model throughout the country on protecting renters, enhancing affordable housing, and mitigating the impacts of gentrification on longtime residents and those in need of affordable housing.”

Brought forward by Gossett and co-sponsored by Councilmembers Jeanne Kohl-Welles and Joe McDermott, the first legislation – passed by the Health, Housing and Human Services Committee – will take aim at creating a strategy to develop and retain affordable housing in Skyway and White Center.

The program, to be developed by the executive’s office and then implemented by council, would create community land trusts in communities with the highest minority populations in King County. It would include mandatory or voluntary inclusionary zoning, maintaining affordability for people living at up to 50% of area median income in White Center and Skyway. In addition, it would give preference to local community members displaced by increasing rents the first option to move back into those communities.

Tuesday’s passage marks the first step toward implementing a major renter protection package. Gossett and Kohl-Welles have backed three more pieces of legislation that will work together to increase protections for renters across King County and build up new programs to reduce displacement in at-risk communities.

The measures include:

*Formation of a King County Renters’ Commission to advise officials on renter issues and possible measures to improve housing access and affordability.

*Revision of King County code to clarify when and how landlords can legally evict tenants through addition of just cause eviction definitions.

Creation of a pilot program to help low-income renters when they are displaced by rent hikes in Skyway and White Center. The program would be a five-year pilot that would help tenants displaced by rising rents relocate back to their community through rental assistance and increased protections for existing renters.
“On paper, our economy is thriving,” Kohl-Welles said. “But in reality, too many of our neighbors are struggling to get by and are being priced out of their homes. This suite of legislation will help increase affordability for and access to stable housing as well as increased representation for renters. Most important, it will help renters feel a sense of stability knowing they can’t be evicted without just cause.”

Tuesday’s approved motion will go before the full council at its Oct. 24 meeting, while the other three measures will undergo further discussion in the council’s Health, Housing and Human Services Committee.

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18 Responses to “Affordable-housing, renter-protection proposals advancing in King County Council”

  1. Why is this only being proposed for White Center and Skyway?

  2. Why just Skyway and White Center? Seems we are getting stereotyped for low income housing, I know several long term residents struggling to make rent in West Seattle, Hey Joe, please help this area too

  3. I think when they mention white center and skyway They might be speaking on unincorporated areas of king county . That need help with housing . Most city’s have there own programs or trying different things to see what works and is financially fit for city’s budget .

  4. Jimmy,they are not talking about all of unincorporated King County. As you probably know, Seattle’s HALA segregates people by income as it does NOT include mandatory Inclusionary zoning. You probably also know that segregating us by income does a pretty good job of segregating us by ethnicity. Meanwhile…homelessness grows.

  5. They are talking about urban, unincorporated areas. Jimmy is right.

  6. Amy, where did you get your information? Have you read the proposed motion or watched the video of last week’s hearing? This proposal specifies North Highline/White Center and Skyway/West Hill as the communities that will be “studied.”

  7. Amy, please read the motion or watch the video. Both are clear. This proposed motion does NOT cover all urban unincorporated areas.

  8. This is helpful news and long overdue. We need more affordable housing in White Center as the vast majority of recent White Center Summit participants confirmed. The number one priority for housing was creating more affordable housing so children (as they become adults) can continue to live near their families in White Center. And we need renter protections like Seattle already provides to its residents. Are these programs perfect? Never. But they are sincere attempts to help keep families in their homes, which is way cheaper than forcing families onto the street and then spending resources to get them back into a home. For years, Ms Giba has been going to public meetings in White Center and talks about how poor people are a drain on White Center. She and others do not see that Our ethnic diversity is our strength and more affordable housing will help us keep it.

  9. Thank you Amy . Liz I believe it’s just a start in the article they are starting a pilot program . After the pilot program more areas will most likely be added . Mentioning white center when talking in white center since skyway is in some ways similar to white center . I don’t see the issue did they come to talk about west Seattle . No they came to talk about white center and happen to mention skyway .

    From your comment it seems you have some previous issue with this group and making some odd claims . Do you have proof this group does the things you have mention or do you have a personal issue with this group . That it seems your attempting to making them sound almost like a racist hate group . In away to discourage people from interacting or believing what they say . Will you explain your interactions that made you come to this conclusion . Maybe someone should look in to these claims like the state attorney general office . Since they are using government funding for this program . If they are involve such activities as you mention they should be stopped obviously .

  10. For the record, my parents were immigrants and I know what poverty feels like. Poverty to me meant a lack of options and opportunities. I was lucky that I came to White Center in 1974. It was a pretty healthy place for me to land. It felt safe and friendly. We could afford $95 a month in rent. We had good hearted neighbors who gave us a car seat that served as our couch. Even had a mattress on the floor. Things have changed.

    Segregation has a long history in Seattle and King County. They should be developing policies to house and empower families to rise out of poverty and achieve better life outcomes. I am a strong supporter of inclusionary zoning, but limiting it to already struggling White Center does not make sense. It limits opportunities instead of expanding them.

    In 2011, the White Center Community Development Association commissioned the Kirwan Institute to conduct an Opportunity Analysis of White Center. A few of the things it showed were:

    1) “Opportunity – Mapping analyses indicate that White Center is a low opportunity neighborhood. Key challenges included academic achievement, poverty, and slower housing appreciation than King County. The region surrounding White Center is also largely low opportunity, making accessing opportunity difficult for White Center residents.”

    2) “Education – Academic achievement is a major contributor to improved quality of life, but is alarmingly low in White Center – school poverty, and math and reading scores are especially troubling. Interventions are necessary, with a special focus on ensuring English proficiency for all residents.”

    3) “White Center/Boulevard Park had some of the worst health outcomes in King County in 2009, ranking number one for diabetes-related deaths, infant mortality, and heart disease.”

    That study was done in 2011. Things have changed. Just last year, over 800 people became tenants in Top Hat’s new Vintage Housing (tax exempt) housing complex. King County needs to update the 2011 Opportunity Analysis as well as a Fair Housing Study. (After all, Fair Housing has been the law for 50+ years.)

    The motion, which passed yesterday, was apparently amended to include: “Identify recommendations and strategies in the study that the county can take to maintain or improve economic opportunity or income level, without further displacing communities from North Highline or Skyway-West Hill.”

    That’s encouraging!

  11. Jimmy, I don’t know what group you are talking about.

  12. Jimmy, Liz has long held some kind of weird grudge against Seattle. She takes the opportunity to soapbox against them in a variety of topics, whether her comments are relevant or not (or even true). It’s just what she does. Most of us ignore it.

    On topic: I’ll support any data-driven methods of improving access to affordable housing. It’s encouraging to hear gentrification discussed too, even though this proposal isn’t aimed at curbing that specifically.

  13. Liz giba The Seattle’s HALA that you claim segregates people by income .

    Below is a full copy of the post from you if you don’t remember

    Liz Giba Says:
    October 20th, 2019 at 11:07 am

    Jimmy,they are not talking about all of unincorporated King County. As you probably know, Seattle’s HALA segregates people by income as it does NOT include mandatory Inclusionary zoning. You probably also know that segregating us by income does a pretty good job of segregating us by ethnicity. Meanwhile…homelessness grows.

  14. Thank you for feed back about our neighborhood, very helpful for me. I was discouraged because there are other places in King County that have not met their burden to also help the low income, for example have you seen the new apartment buildings in West Seattle, how many low income will be able to afford rent?

  15. Jimmy, sorry for your confusion. HALA is not an organization. It is Seattle’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA).

    “Shortly after HALA was announced, Mayor Murray stated “I will no longer pursue changes that could allow more types of housing in 94 percent of single-family zones. Instead, we will refocus the discussion on designing denser Urban Centers, Urban Villages, and along transit corridors that include more affordable housing.”

    In other words, concentrating struggling folks in “urban” villages and centers.

  16. @liz Then Ed Murray left office due to crimnal issues about week and a half after that article came out . Maybe you should try to schedule a sit down with the new mayor ask her what is she doing help people in West Seattle that are on edge of being homelessness .

    Then also how many people that are in need of help would use the programs available . With out fear of being look down upon by neighbor’s or family and even people they consider friends .

  17. Jimmy, HALA didn’t go away with Murray. It’s main “strategy” is Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA).

    According to John Fox of the Seattle Displacement Coalition:

    “…there are indeed racial and economic justice implications accompanying the new MHA plan. And they are tied directly to the conscious decision by our elected leaders to upzone without regard to how it will affect low income people and communities of color – those most likely to be displaced and gentrified out of their communities.”

    Jimmy, where do you think the people who are displaced as a result of MHA will go?

  18. @liz That’s odd that there allsort of multi income housing that has been put in white center and west Seattle in past 15 years . Like where the old park lake homes use to be . Then there similar housing project all though out white center and west Seattle . Then there is all the apartment complexes that have not turned in to condo’s . Then we have a lot of section 8 apartments in white center and west Seattle .

    Then we have a lot of people that look down on any one who is not clean shaven as if there a worthless bum . If you where a shirt with paint on it you will get look at as your a worthless bum for doing house work or improving your home . We have some uptight people around here . That tend to think low income people are just a never ending problem .

    Then we have you that seems to make claims about this organization MHA or whatever the other name is . Now I am taking with a grain of salt . Because I have not heard anything from the other side . Then there has been comments on you looking down on the low income your self .