Seattle considers forcing developers to build affordable housing, or pay | KUOW News and Information

Seattle considers forcing developers to build affordable housing, or pay

Jun 17, 2016

The city wants residential developers to help build affordable housing. It’s going to ask them to set aside some of their apartments for low income earners.

It’s part of the larger effort to build 20,000 affordable apartments. 

Kristy Nguyen needs to live in the city, because of her job as a fancy hairdresser, partly. But there’s another reason too: Just mention the Seattle Mariners and she just melts.

Nguyen: “Now I’m all just flush because I’m so riled up. It’s a great passion of mine. Because I fell in love with baseball and the Mariners. That’s why I fell in love with the city.”

Nguyen had a studio on Capitol Hill, but the rent jumped almost 13 percent in six months. She knew she couldn’t hold out much longer.

That’s when she discovered she qualified for low income housing in Belltown. That surprised her.

Nguyen: “I never thought of myself as poor.”

The city is thinking about asking developers to include low income apartments, Nguyen's, in every residential building, at least in areas with lots of transit.

Those that don’t want to build can pay a fee, instead.

Michelle Chen, who works in the mayor’s office, said this policy is important if Seattle wants to remain accessible to people like Nguyen.

Chen: “We want Seattle to grow equitably and inclusively and have the diversity that makes our city so great.”

The fine print – how much we ask of developers and how much bigger we let them build in return – will be worked out later.

The City Council will hold a hearing on Tuesday morning.