Housing

This letter was sent out to neighbors after a shelter resident at Ballard's Trinity United Methodist Church stabbed another shelter resident.

To our neighbors,

As you know, a major incident happened last night at the shelter between the hours of 8:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. Two residents of the Vets Hall Shelter broke into a fight, which escalated into a stabbing.

The “victim” was taken to the hospital and will not return as a resident to the shelter.

The man who did the stabbing is known and being sought and will be charged with felony assault.

We’d like to thank the police and fire departments for their prompt and professional excellence in this emergency.

We’d also like to thank watchful neighbors, the shelter itself and our live-in security person, Randy Thompson, for their immediate calling of the police as the incident began to flare.

This is the first incident of violence with a weapon in the 10 years of our active ministry with the homeless.

Although our systems of security responded quickly and effectively, we nevertheless deeply regret the disruption of our neighborhood security.

12/17/2009

By Sally Clark, Seattle City Council

This column originally appeared in the December issue of Sally Clark's newsletter "City View."

At the end of my first two years chairing the Seattle City Council’'s Planning, Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee, I feel a little like I'’m renovating a house with a limited set of plans. I mostly pick up a hammer and try to use common sense.

I hear from plenty of people who tell me they have the best house plan and that I should use their instructions.

For some people, no change is the right change. For others, the change can'’t be grand enough.

Re-zone, upzone, incentivize, landmark, retain, bulk up, slim down, reward, charge, bonus, demolish, protect…. Everyone has a position and a stake in what happens across the street and across town.

As 2009 comes to a close, I can say I am proud of the work we’'ve done over the past two years with neighborhoods, developers, affordability advocates, historic preservation advocates, greeners, smart city staffers and others to make at least a few smart decisions.

– Backyard cottages are a good and modest step for housing variety and affordability.

12/17/2009
Lenders to work one on one with homeowners

Are you struggling to pay your mortgage because of a subprime loan, a job loss or a one-time financial crisis like an illness or divorce? If so, you may find the help you need at a free foreclosure prevention event on Dec. 5 at Cleveland High School sponsored by the City of Seattle Office of Housing and the Human Services Department, in partnership with federal, state and local nonprofit agencies.

“Often, homeowners don’t know where to start or they wait too long to seek help when they have trouble making their mortgage payments,” said Adrienne Quinn, Director of the City’s Office of Housing. “We’ve learned that simply connecting homeowners with either their lender or a mortgage counselor can often result in a solution that keeps people in their homes for the long term.”

More than 300 local residents met with bank officers or mortgage counselors during a similar workshop held in July. Over 200 of those homeowners were approved for trial loan modifications under the Obama administration’s Making Homes Affordable program.

11/30/2009

Our Redeemer's Lutheran Church will be closing the SHARE shelter it has been operating in the Calvary Lutheran Church building since last spring.

Jane Klausen, a neighbor and member of the shelter task force, said the announcement was made during the Nov. 5 meeting of Our Redeemer's, SHARE and neighborhood representatives.

She said Our Redeemer's offered SHARE the opportunity to conduct sex offender background checks or move out. The shelter declined to conduct the checks.

"We have requested that SHARE take responsibility for screening for Level III Sex Offender Background checks," Our Redeemer's Council President Janet Woodfield said in a letter to neighbors. "If they refuse, the shelter will close."

On Sept. 12, a sex offender living at the shelter at 7002 23rd Ave. N.W. was removed by SHARE.

Prior to the shelter moving to Ballard June 1, many neighbors had been adamant that SHARE conduct background checks on shelter residents. The organization refused, stating that their interview process was enough.

Since Sept. 12, no new shelter residents have been allowed into the shelter.

11/06/2009
CalvaryLutheran_0.jpg
Photo credit: 
Michael Harthorne

The SHARE shelter located at the old Calvary Lutheran Church is set to close due to a disagreement between SHARE and Our Redeemer's Lutheran Church over sex offender checks.

By Anna Markee, outreach director for the Housing Development Consortium and Yes For Homes spokesperson

Seattle voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 1 Nov. 3, renewing the Seattle Housing Levy. Despite the recession, current reports from King County Elections show the Housing Levy passing with 64.2 percent of the vote.

The $145 million Housing Levy will preserve existing affordable housing; provide affordable housing for people coming out of homelessness, seniors and people who are disabled; provide emergency rental assistance; and provide loans to first-time homebuyers.

In these tough economic times, Seattle voters understand that it is a wiser and more compassionate investment to pay about $65 a year to keep thousands of seniors who are on fixed incomes, people with disabilities, and very low income families in affordable apartments, rather than to let them sleep on the streets, in cars or other unsafe places.

We are grateful to the Seattle voters for showing their generosity and compassion once again.

11/05/2009

To extend or not to extend the first time homebuyers’ tax credit, that is the debate facing Congress right now.

Some say that the $8,000 tax credit is boosting the real estate market, an enormously important part of our economy, whereas others say that it doesn’t bring many more new buyers into the market than would have been there already and that the price tag is just too high.

First of all, let’s think about why home values have dropped over the past couple of years. Well, the primary factor would be an oversupply of housing. Too much inventory creates a vicious circle whereby values decline and potential home buyers, not wanting to buy into a falling market, sit on the sidelines and wait for a perceived bottom. This lack of demand then causes values to fall even further.

And, buyers continue to wait.

So to address this, congress created the tax credit for new homebuyers. Across the country, we’ve seen pending and existing home sales turn a corner and rise month over month, with figures much higher than a year ago — this is a much faster turnaround than was expected.

10/28/2009

The $8,000 tax credit has helped fuel a surge in home sales, nationally and locally. Closed sales of single-family homes in King County were up 14.3 percent in September from the same month last year, the Northwest Multiple Listing Service reported recently.

It was the fourth consecutive month of year-over-year gains.

But the tax credit is scheduled to expire Nov. 30. After that, some observers say, home sales could drop again, just as auto sales plummeted after the federal "cash-for-clunkers" program ran its course.

Some experts say the current apparent 'strength' in the housing market is due entirely to massive government intervention. But others say the $8,000 credit is only one factor in the recent increase in sales. Lower prices and historically low interest rates also are attracting buyers.

The local market is better able to withstand the credit's expiration now than it was 18 months ago, said George Rolfe, director of the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington.

10/24/2009

By Anna Markee, Housing Development Consortium of Seattle-King County

The Seattle Housing Levy creates and preserves housing for our most vulnerable neighbors including seniors, people with disabilities, domestic violence victims, veterans and formerly homeless individuals and families.

Seattle voters have supported the Housing Levy since 1981. In today’s tough economic times, it is more important than ever that we renew our commitment to housing people in need. Many people who never thought they would struggle to find a place to live now face homelessness.

Sheila used to work at a steady job and rent a small house where she lived with her son. When she was struck by a debilitating illness, she was unable to work and couldn’t pay her rent. With the help of the housing levy, she now has a safe place to live on Capitol Hill while she undergoes treatment and her son can focus on school.

10/22/2009

By Anna Markee, Housing Development Consortium of Seattle-King County

The Seattle Housing Levy creates and preserves housing for our most vulnerable neighbors including seniors, people with disabilities, domestic violence victims, veterans and formerly homeless individuals and families.

Seattle voters have supported the Housing Levy since 1981. In today’s tough economic times, it is more important than ever that we renew our commitment to housing people in need. Many people who never thought they would struggle to find a place to live now face homelessness.

10/22/2009

Don’t let out-of-date fixtures and unappealing decor cost you a sale. While some buyers may actually appreciate “vintage” features, home and design experts say these five features almost always serve as a turnoff.

1. Outdated Paint: Dated and excessively bold or dark paint and tile colors, such as “Pepto Bismol” pink, avocado green, deep plum, or jet black. Lacquered or high-gloss painted walls that are expensive to repaint and show all defects. Likewise, faux- and sponge-painted walls can be so passe. Painted trim that’s very dark-and costly to remove. Homes sell faster that have been freshly painted in neutral colors.

2. Wallpaper, which is a lot of work (and potentially expensive) to remove. Most disliked: Dated flowered or striped patterns. Again, think neutral.

3. Outdated Kitchens: Outdated, small-scale, and dirty kitchen appliances that look like they won’t perform are a deal breaker. Worn, cracked laminate countertops, and backsplashes or plastic cultured marble won’t h