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housing

A year ago, 1,400 people showed up for 110 affordable units on Beacon Hill.
KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

Seattle officials are calling for improvements in how the city holds developers accountable. That’s because of a problem the Office of City Auditor found in how the city tracks new construction.

Flickr Photo/Steven Santiago (CC-BY-NC-ND)/https://flic.kr/p/q4dpg6

Downtown and South Lake Union are poised to get even denser. Seattle lawmakers have approved a rezone to increase the building heights for both neighborhoods. Mayor Ed Murray signed it into law on Friday, April 14.

A 1960s sign from an old flophouse in Pioneer Square in Seattle.
Flickr/Matthew Klein (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/4PF4Bn

It’s not an easy time to find an apartment in Seattle. You’d be hard pressed to find a one-bedroom on Capitol Hill for less than $1,400 per month — and rents for similarly-sized apartments in swanky new buildings regularly soar upward of $3,000.

A few years ago, Nikita Smith was named in an eviction case by her landlord.

They ended up resolving the issue and she was never evicted.

But being named in the case was enough to disqualify her when she applied for a home in Renton in 2015.

Now, Smith has filed a lawsuit targeting the landlord screening policy that stood in her way.


An example of a 400 square foot backyard cottage.
KUOW Photo/paintchipdiaries (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/CXL53

Backyard cottages and mother-in-law units are back on the city of Seattle's priority list — and they will be for at least the next year. City officials want to make it easier for people to build them in order to add to the housing stock.

4 things to know about Mayor Ed Murray's homeless levy

Mar 22, 2017
Kara Bernstine, who is homeless, said she knows the Jungle homeless encampment isn't perfectly safe, but it felt safer than other places in the city. Click on this photo to see more images of the Jungle.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

This summer, Seattle voters will likely be tasked with a big decision. Should the city should double what it spends combating homelessness?

President Donald Trump is proposing budget cuts that would deeply impact programs in King County.

The proposal has a long way to go, and ultimately Congress has the final say. But leaders worry about how it might hurt low-income residents.


Harold Nesland III owns Sahara Pizza in Snoqualmie and Black Diamond.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

A woman, a new resident of the huge Snoqualmie Ridge development, had called in for pizza.

It was the first pie order for one of those new shiny houses, and Harold Nesland III, owner of Sahara Pizza, drove it over.

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

The first-come, first-served law passed last summer means Seattle landlords can't thumb through a stack of applications and choose the tenant they like the most; they have to rent to the first qualified applicant.

'Week in Review' panel Bill Radke, Jonathan Martin, Natalie Brand and Essex Porter.
KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

Washington's attorney general says the injunction he won against President Trump's travel ban still applies to the president's new executive order and is asking a federal judge to agree.

Seattle landlords sue the city for making them rent to whichever qualified applicant shows up first.

Some people are mad with Sound Transit over the rising cost of car tabs and how the agency decides what your car is worth.

And we're still talking about a propane spill that clogged city traffic for nine hours.

For this map, we combined a map from 1919 with Google maps to approximate modern roads and living areas. We then took satellite maps from the City of Black Diamond showing proposed new developments and sketched those out as well.
KUOW Graphic/Kara McDermott

A mega housing development is going up in Black Diamond outside Seattle, and some of those houses could be built on top of old mine shafts.

With Oregon’s biggest cities in a housing crunch, lawmakers are considering a measure that would require landlords to give specific reasons for evicting a tenant.

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. 

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