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Mine #11 in Black Diamond supported a workforce of 400-500 people, underground and on the surface. This mine operated from 1896 to 1927. Photo is from 1904.
University of Washington Libraries, Special Collection Negative No. UW-23734.

The hill at Palmer Coking Coal Company in Black Diamond is smoldering. 

Housing in the Yesler Terrace area.
KUOW Photo/Dominic Black

Just over half the households in Seattle are renters. And they may soon get a formal voice at City Hall.

Legislation to be introduced to the City Council this week would create a 15-member commission to advise on issues of development and affordability and represent tenant rights.

A vacant lot in Black Diamond, Washington
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Do we have enough land for all the people moving to Washington state? There’s a bill working its way through Olympia that would change how planners would answer that question. It’s backed by builders and realtors.

Jasmin Samy is th civil rights manager at CAIR-Washington State, a chapter of America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. She says it's often difficult to get people to speak up when they think they're being discriminated against.
KUOW Photo/Patricia Murphy

When people of color try to rent housing in Seattle, they’re treated differently from white people.

KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

Black Diamond is a city of 4,000 people southeast of Seattle. It's a haven for cyclists headed for Mount Rainier, and a historic coal mining town. But a huge housing development has loomed over this small town for 20 years, and the tension over it is tearing the city apart.

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

Seattle lawmakers are on the verge of rezoning each neighborhood to be denser, taller versions of what they are now. 

The Seattle City Council is scheduled to start the process Tuesday with a vote to rezone the University District. It’s part of what city leaders call HALA (Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda), the city’s response to Seattle's affordable housing crisis.


Mary Ann and Bill McDermond have lost friends over their opposition to the massive project that's being built in Black Diamond
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Mary Ann and Bill McDermand moved to Black Diamond 23 years ago for the peace, tranquility and the strong sense of community. Their kids used to play with the neighbors kids, she said, “and we just got along good with everybody.”


Ella lives at Capitol Hill Urban CoHousing, a development built by nine families so they could live together in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Seattle is growing fast, but it doesn’t have many kids.

Sure, the schools are overcrowded and there are babies in strollers everywhere. But as a percentage, the number of kids in Seattle is really low, because there’s not a lot of new housing designed for families.

Still, some parents are finding a way to stay in the city anyway.


One of President Donald Trump’s first acts as president was to undo one of President Barack Obama’s last acts as president. Obama had moved to cut rates for people who take out mortgage insurance from the Federal Housing Administration, primarily first-time home buyers and people with poor credit.

Violet and Norward Brooks in front of a house they struggled to buy due to discrimination.
KUOW Photo/Caroline Chamberlain

The results of the recent presidential election has revealed stark divisions in this country.

This is especially clear in Seattle, where we’re notorious for being one of the most progressive cities in the country.


Under a new city plan, apartment buildings could be as high as the UW Tower (tallest building pictured). They are currently capped at 65 feet.
Flickr Photo/Atomic Taco (CC BY SA 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/8cYwTm

Seattle lawmakers are getting closer to implementing their solution to the city’s housing problems. They call the plan HALA, or the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda.

As part of HALA, lawmakers will rezone most of Seattle to make a more a taller, denser city. The City Council will rezone the University District first and has already drafted new zoning rules for the neighborhood.

Developments are popping up all over Marysville.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Marysville is the fastest growing big city in Western Washington.

In part that’s due to people leaving the Seattle housing market to find more affordable housing in a place a commutable distance away.


Seattle's Blue Ridge neighborhood was developed by William and Bertha Boeing through a federal loan guarantee that required homes be sold and occupied only by white people.
Courtesy of Seattle Civil Rights & Labor History Project

Seattle's neighborhoods and suburbs have long been segregated by race.

This month Seattle lawmakers will start taking steps to rezone the University District. In a sign that City Council members want to get it right the first time, they plan to amend their proposal even before they introduce it.

housingweb.jpg
Anna Boiko-Weyrauch

Dave Tomson and his dog Dennis slept between cardboard walls under Interstate 5 in Seattle one night recently. Tomson is a block away from city hall – in fact you can see it from the corner.

He picked this spot so he could stay dry.

“It was raining and I’m not made out of sugar, but I don’t like to be cold and wet,” Tomson said. “Call me crazy.”

Tomson is homeless, like more than 4,000 other people in the city. He’s lived on the streets for five years after he went to jail and lost his job, he said.

A new report predicts that rent increases in the Seattle area should slow down next year. The report was produced by Apartment Insights, a company that surveys the rental market. It finds that vacancy rates are increasing and that rents are dropping in the fourth quarter of this year.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray in the KUOW studios.
KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

Bill Radke speaks with Seattle Mayor Ed Murray about current issues facing the city including being a sanctuary city for immigrants, tackling a West Coast homeless problem, ensuring affordable housing, preserving the culture in neighborhoods facing rapid gentrification  and bringing a new sports team (and arena) to the city. 

How densely packed should Seattle get?

Dec 14, 2016

Bill Radke speaks with Queen Anne Community Councilmember Martin Kaplan and housing advocate Laura Bernstein about the city's decision to put a hold on more backyard cottages and mother-in-law apartments until an environmental impact study can be performed. They discuss density issues, affordable housing and the changing character of Seattle's single family neighborhoods. 

Teacher Briana Nelson would like to have a place of her own in the Central District.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Seattle’s Central District was historically important to African Americans, until many were priced out.


A view of one of Cast Architecture's backyard cottages. The firm has been a leader promoting backyard cottages in Seattle
Courtesy of Cast Architecture

A housing plan to bring more backyard cottages to Seattle was halted Tuesday when the city's hearing examiner ruled that the proposal needs to undergo a full environmental review, not just approval through the city council.

City Councilmember Kshama Sawant speaks at her election night party at Melrose Market in Seattle on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015.
KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

There are new limits on how much Seattle landlords can charge for move-in fees. The City Council unanimously approved the rules Monday after months of debate between tenant advocates and landlords.

KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

The city of Seattle wants your feedback on a plan to channel more growth and affordable housing into the city’s most popular neighborhoods.

Rising rents are casting a pall over life for many people in the greater Seattle area.
Craigslist.org screenshot

The number the Census Bureau watches for is 30 percent of household income.

An NPR listener (with what may be the best Twitter handle ever — Booky McReaderpants) inquired whether a home can be powered by bicycle-powered generator.

It's an interesting issue about energy and the modern world. And the short answer comes from just running the numbers.

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

Jeannie Yandel talks to Xochitl Maykovich, an organizer with the Washington Community Action Network, and Brian Robinson, a Seattle landlord who's on the board of directors at the Rental Housing Association, about the pros and cons of the Seattle City Council legislation that would put a cap on move-in fees. 

Seattle police approach man on the street, part of the group show, We are still here, at Gallery4Culture.
Delino Olebar, courtesy Creative Justice Project

Gentrification and housing affordability are hot topics in Seattle right now.

They affect everyone, but typically politicians or media-savvy types dominate the public debate.

Home prices in the Seattle and Portland metro areas are rising faster than anywhere else in the country right now -- about twice as fast as the national average.

Seattle's Mayor and City Council approve their own agenda for the state Legislature every year. For the 2017 legislative session, the city is calling for more protections for tenants and for people of color.


Seattle renters could get a break on rental costs as soon as mid-January. A City Council committee advanced a measure Tuesday that would cap move-in fees.

Eric Jordan and Lisa Hooper are trying to make their camp Rainier Avenue S more tidy and clean. But they feel constrained by the state, which won't let them bring in garbage cans or porta-potties and regularly promises to evict them.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Seattle and other west coast cities are bucking the national homeless trend — and not for the better.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced the numbers from its annual point-in-time count Thursday. The number of homeless people in the U.S. is down 14 percent compared to the year 2010.

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