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Seattle rent shot up how much?!: Today So Far

  • Why Seattle rents have gone up 29% in a year.
  • Navigating politics and generational divides in the Vietnamese-American community.
  • Kids get a pretty "cool" and "slimy" look at how conservation works in Washington.

This post originally appeared in KUOW's Today So Far newsletter for April 28, 2022.

Seattle rents are skyrocketing again. I almost feel guilty writing that. It's not news at this point. It's just our state of being. I have a friend who is currently scrambling out of their Seattle studio apartment because the building is spiking rent nearly $600. Keep in mind that this is a new apartment building, and the studio is about as big as my closet.

However, median rents around here have made a considerably sharper spike than usual.

"This is not normal to see this large of an increase in rent in such a short amount of time, and it's got to be particularly jarring coming out of the pandemic," said Daryl Fairweather, chief economist for Redfin.

Average rent in town has shot up 29% over the past year, according to Redfin. If you want to rent a two-bedroom apartment in Seattle right now, it will cost you, on average, $2,120. And if you want to hunt for the best deal outside the city ... Lakewood is looking pretty good at $1,560.

Fairweather tells Seattle Now that a lot of folks left town over the past couple years, seeking cheaper prices, or moving in with family, etc. A lot of small landlords opted not to relist their vacant apartments during this time and got out of the rental business altogether.

"Because of the eviction moratorium or just the uncertainty that was going on during the pandemic," Fairweather said. "Now people are returning to cities, including Seattle, and they are all fighting for the few number of rentals that are left. And the new rental units on the market are often priced very high because there are people coming in from places like San Francisco who are used to paying even higher rents."

RELATED: Get ready for the social housing debate in Seattle

It is especially tough on millennials. But in a way, this situation is something millennials and older generations can relate to: Anywhere Californians are moving, the prices are skyrocketing. Hear Fairweather's full conversation with Seattle Now here.

With everything going on in the world, how about a cute story? Kids in Kennewick got a pretty "cool" and "slimy" look at how conservation works in Washington. Fourth-grade students at Cascade Elementary School helped state researchers tag young salmon before they were sent on their way to saltwater. This is how our state tracks a lot of the fish we hatch and release into the wild.

If you're like me and have gone salmon fishing in Washington, there is often someone on the docks when you bring salmon back to shore. They scan your fish in case it was tagged. That helps researchers find where the fish went. And that's a similar idea to why these tags were placed in young salmon in Kennewick. When the salmon swim past sensors along the Columbia River, researchers get a better idea of how they are migrating. Read more here.

Politics and generational divides. I'm pretty terrible at navigating the various politics that travel through different social circles in my life. Sort of feels like a lot of people are trying to draft you into their culture war. Sarah Nguyễn is a lot better with this issue than I am. She's a Ph.D. student at UW's Center for an Informed Public — you know, that school that sifts through the misinformation and disinformation that floods our lives. She found a way to navigate her family life, and her studies around such divisive politics.

Nguyễn is a second-generation Vietnamese-American. Around 2020, she noticed her parents were consuming a lot of YouTube content in Vietnamese about current issues — Covid and protests. She says the information was "egregious." That kicked off her research looking into how misinformation spreads in the Vietnamese community. And in a way, the research opened an entirely new channel of communication in her family.

There are a lot of takeaways from the research, but one that I found fascinating, and very relatable, is that older generations seemed to be more open to personality-driven content. Younger generations were more into academic sources. Hear the full story on this recent episode of KUOW's Soundside.

AS SEEN ON KUOW

caption: Andrea Thomas Churna called 911 in September 2020, when she felt her life was in danger. She later died, after Redmond police shot her multiple times.
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Andrea Thomas Churna called 911 in September 2020, when she felt her life was in danger. She later died, after Redmond police shot her multiple times.
Credit: Photo courtesy of Andrea Churna's family

A year and a half after Redmond Police shot and killed 39-year-old Andrea Thomas Churna in her apartment building, following her call to 911 for help, the City of Redmond has agreed to pay her family $7.5 million in a lawsuit settlement. (Courtesy of Andrea Churna's family)

DID YOU KNOW?

The Smith Tower is an official Seattle landmark. When its construction was completed in 1914, it was called the L.C. Smith Building. It kept that name until 1929 when it became “Smith Tower.” Where did this “Smith” name come from?

Lyman Cornelius Smith is historically more known for making typewriters than investing in skyscrapers (which is how he got his name on Smith Tower). Smith made a lot of money producing LC Smith typewriters back in the day (also guns).

Smith typewriters evolved into the Smith-Corona typewriter brand (of which I have a couple models on my shelves at home). Side note: Smith Tower was the tallest building on the West Coast until 1962 when the Space Needle debuted.

ALSO ON OUR MINDS

caption: Actor, Director LeVar Burton smiles as he takes his seat in the Great Hall of the Library of Congress in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016. Burton attended the oath of office ceremony for the new Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden.
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Actor, Director LeVar Burton smiles as he takes his seat in the Great Hall of the Library of Congress in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016. Burton attended the oath of office ceremony for the new Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden.
Credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

LeVar Burton will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the new children's Emmys

LeVar Burton, the beloved former Reading Rainbow host, will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the inaugural Children's and Family Emmys in December, the Television Academy announced this week.

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