housing | KUOW News and Information

housing

Flickr Photo/craterdweller (CC BY-NC-ND)

Housing prices in metropolitan Seattle are rising by more than $5 an hour, every hour of every day, according to the Puget Sound Regional Council.


KUOW PHOTO/KRISTIN LEONG

Washington sues the Trump Administration over its policy of separating migrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border, Seattle looks for a new strategy to fund affordable housing, and the University of Washington settles a free speech case.

Plus: Summer's finally here and we're already debating air conditioning. Do you even need it in the Northwest?

The newly constructed Arbora Court Apartments, with 133 units, is shown on Monday, April 23, 2018, in Seattle. Forty of the apartments have been set aside for families transitioning out of homelessness.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Renters already know that finding an affordable place in Seattle is near impossible. But sometimes local employers do not appreciate how bonkers the rental market really is. 

Colleen Echohawk-Hayashi and Gyasi Ross.
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

You know the drainage pipes you sometimes see sticking out from underneath a road? They're called culverts. And they're creating a division between Washington tribes and state attorney general Bob Ferguson. The sovereign nations claim that Ferguson is failing to uphold their treaty rights; in response, he's escalated the lawsuit to the Supreme Court of the United States.


Carol Duescher currently lives in her car.
KUOW photo/David Hyde

The number of chronically homeless people in King County is up 28 percent this year, according to the latest look at the homeless population, which was released today.  

Compare that to the experience in Utah, which slashed chronic homelessness over a 10-year period. "I think Seattle could do the same thing, if that was a priority," said Joe Camacho, who lives in a shelter near the Space Needle.


The entrance to a homeless shelter on Third Avenue in Seattle.
KUOW File Photo/John Ryan

Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan wants to significantly increase shelter capacity for people experiencing homelessness in the city over the next three months.

Using money from the sale of a city-owned property in South Lake Union, Durkan is proposing increasing the number of shelter spots available by 25 percent by the end of August.


KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Seattle is a growing city. Roads have gotten more congested, trails more crowded and housing prices have been on a steady climb up.  So what brings people into the city, and once they are here, why do they stay? 

Sara Rankin, director of Seattle University's Homeless Rights Advocacy Project.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

One big question people have asked in the conversation about homelessness and affordability is: can we trust the city to spend this money effectively?


In this Oct. 5, 2009, a driver goes past a large condominium under construction in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle.
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Bill Radke looks at the debate over changing Seattle's zoning laws to allow for more apartments, condos and town homes, and fewer single-family houses. We're joined by Susanna Lin, a board member of Seattle Fair Growth, and Roger Valdez, director of Seattle For Growth.

Valerie Nagle, who lives in her van: 'It would be huge, if there was enough housing, affordable housing.'
KUOW photo/David Hyde

With Seattle adding tens of millions of dollars to fight homelessness, people around the city want to know: Is that money being spent effectively?

Valerie Nagle is one of them. She lives in her van.


Volunteers count the number of people experiencing homelessness during the annual King County Point-In-Time count on Friday, January 25, 2018, in Pioneer Square.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Is Seattle the sort of place where, if you can’t afford it, there’s no room for you?


The newly constructed Arbora Court Apartments, with 133 units, is shown on Monday, April 23, 2018, in Seattle. Forty of the apartments have been set aside for families transitioning out of homelessness.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Three years ago, the city told developers: You can either pay into a fund or build affordable housing units yourselves.

Listener Andrew Chinnici heard about that on KUOW and wanted to know: How is it working out?

Well, Andrew, so far there are permits for just 19 units through this fund.

Homes in Queen Anne are shown from the Space Needle in November in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Bill Radke talks about the lawsuit against the city over the recently passed ordinance that prohibits landlords from screening some rental applicants based on their criminal background. William Shadbolt, president of the board of the Rental Housing Association of Washington explains why they're suing. Seattle City Councilor Lisa Herbold tells us why she supports the ordinance and co-sponsored it. In a statement, the city's Attorney's Office says, "Our office is currently reviewing the complaint, which we received on Tuesday.  We believe the ordinance is constitutional and plan to defend it."

Light rail runs on the surface in Seattle's Rainier Valley.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Nonprofit developers plan to build more than 300 affordable apartments in Seattle's First Hill neighborhood. The project is slated to go on surplus land that Sound Transit is handing over for free.

Shielded by an identity-protecting tarp, a Seattle locksmith drills the locks on a Russian-owned consular building.
RT Twitter feed

Yesterday afternoon in Madison Park, you may have seen an unusual breaking and entering. U.S. State Department officials drilled through the locks on the gate of a Russian-owned home, while former consular employees filmed across the street.

Construction continues on a new apartment complex on Monday, March 12, 2018, at the intersection of Aurora Avenue North and 109th St., in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Seattle has an affordability and housing problem, and the City Council is considering asking businesses to chip in. A proposal in the works would tax Seattle businesses with at least $20 million in taxable gross receipts 26 cents per employee for every hour they work.

The city estimates that an employee tax would raise about $75 million a year.

Should businesses pay more? We debate the pros and cons with Seattle City Councilmember Mike O'Brien and Seattle Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Marilyn Strickland.

We’ve seen more wildfires burning into urban communities  lately. But there’s  a lot homeowners can do to protect themselves,  according to top scientists at the Missoula Fire Sciences Lab.

Fifth grader Nina Perry at KUOW Public Radio in Seattle
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

Eleven-year-old Nina Parry noticed a man sitting outside her neighborhood QFC. She and her mom brought him food. But there were others.

“Ever since I can remember, I've been seeing homeless people asking for money or just sitting in the streets being cold,” she said.


Ethan Kent, 26, uses a cart to transport his belongings as well as the belongings of friends away from a Ravenna encampment where he had been living for roughly a month and a half, on Wednesday, April 18, 2018, on the Burke-Gilman Trail in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Charlie Blackwood was running off three hours of sleep and seven cups of coffee when he packed up his belongings. He had been living with seven other people in a plot of woods in Ravenna, in northeast Seattle, when city crews arrived with trucks and shovels to clear it out.

In 1965, Ralph and Elaine Hayes tried to put a down payment on a friend's home in Ravenna.

"And in April of '66 the United Federal Savings Bank, I think it was called, sent our check back," Elaine Hayes said. She and her husband didn't find out why for 15 years.


A turreted brick home known as The Castle. A tan bungalow. An 111-year-old corner house with a covered porch.

Just south of the state Capitol building you’ll find a neighborhood dotted with quaint, historic houses. But you won’t find families with children in many of them.

A woman walks past a large mural of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on the side of a diner, painted by artist James Crespinel in the 1990's and later restored, along Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Tuesday, April 3, 2018, in Seattle.
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Fifty years ago today, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered on a balcony in Memphis, Tennessee. Decades later, a motion passed in the King County Council to rename the county for King, rather than a slave owner from Alabama. 

A worker in Boise puts together an apartment bound for Seattle.
Guerdon Modular Design

The apartment complex at Aurora and North 109th Street in Seattle was built on the cheap.

KUOW PHOTO/KARA MCDERMOTT

This week, Seattle lost its Russian consulate, lost its “first in time” rental law, lost the Battery Street Park, lost everything... except the season opener. The Seattle Mariners won that, 2-1.

Handing over the keys to a new rental property.
Flickr Photo/harry b (CC BY 2.0)/flic.kr/p/xSNB92

If you’ve rented a new apartment in Seattle in the last year, chances are that you ran into the first-in-time law. It required landlords to rent to the first qualified applicant. When enacted, the law was touted as a first in the nation attempt to protect tenants’ rights. Landlords argued that it overrode their property rights – and yesterday, a judge agreed. 

A view from unit 204, Spyglass Hill apartments
Sound West Group

There’s a new way to get rental housing – by bidding against other people on an app. The person who offers to pay the most gets the spot.

Seattle City Council wants none of this. In a setback for tech entrepreneurs trying to disrupt the rental housing market, the Council issued a one-year moratorium on these kinds of rent auction apps.

Online auction apps like Rentberry and Biddwell serve as a sort eBay for rental housing — how much the rent will ultimately cost isn’t known until the deal closes.

FLICKR PHOTO/Nathan Winder/https://flic.kr/p/bqTzXf

New protections may be on the way for Seattleites who can no longer afford rent.

Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant says she'll introduce a bill in the next few months that would require landlords to pay for relocation expenses if rent goes up by more than 10 percent.


Seattle native Merlin Rainwater holds a map outlining the red line zone on Wednesday, March 7, 2018, in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Longtime Central District resident Merlin Rainwater advocates for alternative forms of transportation, like walking and biking. She leads neighborhood “slow rides” to get older women more comfortable with urban cycling and shows them around parts of the Central District they might not know about: public art, small parks, black-owned cafes and restaurants.

A community meeting on Mandatory Housing Affordability at Northgate on March 12, 2018
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Residents of north Seattle want affordable housing, but are skeptical of the city’s plan to get that housing built by encouraging more development. That was the dominant message heard at Monday night’s public hearing in Northgate.

Apartment buildings in the University District, Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

You've heard of the bidding wars for houses in the Seattle area, and now people are competitively bidding for rental apartments. Seattle lawmakers are trying to cut off the practice, known as rent bidding, before it takes off in the city.

On websites like Rentberry and Biddwell, landlords post an apartment and suggested rent, and prospective tenants can bid higher (or lower) to try to win the lease.

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