Housing

Various disruptions of tenants inhabiting Section 8 homes around 30th and Genesse in Delridge has led surrounding neighbors to take action. The situation and possible solutions were discussed at the Delridge neighborhood council meeting last Wednesday, July 1.

A neighbor, who requested to remain anonymous due to previous threats and acts of vandalism said, “the problem is always domestic violence or drugs.”

Although this woman and another neighbor are fed up with the situation, they are nervous to take action.

“You can tell there is legitimate fear and anger," Mike Dady, neighborhood co-chair, said.

Police officer Kevin McDaniel from the Southwest precinct confirmed there had been neighbor complaints of domestic violence, but he did not have any knowledge of drug use or dealing.

McDaniel said that action was being taken.

“I’m working with the owner of the building and at this point were making progress as far as possibly getting them out of the units," said McDaniel.

However, no dramatic changes have been seen yet.

07/09/2009

“Encouraging” seemed to be a common response from brokers upon reviewing the June activity summaries from Northwest Multiple Listing Service. The report shows inventory continues to shrink, pending sales increased more than 19.5 percent from a year ago, and median prices system-wide are up 4.4 percent since January.

“The positive movement in our real estate market year over year is really very encouraging,” remarked Ron G. Sparks, managing vice president of Coldwell Banker Bain. "Compared to 12 months ago, the Puget Sound region has nearly 7,000 fewer homes listed for sale, and nearly 1,200 more homes under contract, he noted, adding, “In anyone’s book, that’s substantial improvement.”

J. Lennox Scott, chairman and chief executive officer of John L. Scott Real Estate, echoed those comments.

“It’s encouraging to see that pending sales are at their highest since the credit bubble burst nearly two years ago,” Scott stated. While the median home price is down about 9.5 percent from a year ago, median prices have flattened over the past seven to nine months, he noted.

07/06/2009

The Seattle City Council today launched a new Web site, Recession Resources for Seattle Residents, to help people cope with the current economic crisis.

The new site offers links to a variety of informational sites and resources for those seeking job training, debt assistance, help with housing issues and healthcare.

“Our goal is to make it easier for Seattle residents to find the help they need, and find it quickly,” council president Richard Conlin said. “Hopefully, these resources will make what is a difficult time for many people just a little less stressful.”

The council committed to getting this informational resource online as one of the elements of its Economic Recovery Plan embodied in resolution 31135. The complete list of topics that users will find assistance with includes foreclosures, home purchasing, safeguarding savings and retirement funds, debt service, job search and training, child care and food assistance, health care and utility bill payer assistance.

The council site essentially makes existing resources more accessible in one location.

06/30/2009

(Editor's note: This article appears originally in Seattle City Council member Bruce Harrell's E-newsletter "Positive Focus.")

The Seattle City Council has been working diligently on finalizing legislation that would put a seven-year, 2009 Housing Levy on the November 2009 ballot. The goal: Affordable housing.

We held eight public meetings and many of us reviewed enormous amounts of written materials to develop, what we believed was a great package to place on the November ballot. On June 15, the full council unanimously approved legislation supporting the final package for the voters. This is not a new levy. It is a renewal of a levy that voters have approved since 1981 (three levies and one bond).

I want to thank council member Richard McIver for chairing the Housing Levy Committee of the Whole and for his leadership in shaping a good package. The $145 million proposal will pencil out to about $79 annually in cost to the average homeowner.

06/24/2009

Waiting longer to buy a home is not likely to pay off, according to Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS ) director Kathy Estey after reviewing reports summarizing May activity.

Estey pointed to shrinking inventory (about 20 percent fewer listings than a year ago), double-digit increases in the number of pending sales (up 17.7 percent from a year ago), solid open house activity, and signs of stabilizing prices (eight of the 19 counties in the report show price gains since January) as indicators of an improving market. 

Northwest MLS brokers notched 7,160 pending sales during May. That total out-gained the year-ago tally by 1,075 transactions (up 17.7 percent) and improved on April’s total by 242 sales for a 3.5 percent increase.  For the four-county Puget Sound area, pending sales jumped 21.5 percent from a year ago, rising from 4,526 to 5,498 transactions. 

06/04/2009

A boarded-up house at 1753 N.W. 56th St. that neighbors said was filled with transients and drug use was torn down June 1.

Kevin Johnston has had an office across the alley for 10 years. He said he was happy to see the building, which he described as a flop house, go.

Diana Naramore, owner of the Sip and Ship across the alley from the house, said she had reported transients living there to the police and that it was a health and safety concern for her customers.

"I think it's wonderful," said Naramor, who's business was offering $2 "Demolition Lattes." "Our customers are thrilled that it's coming down."

The Compass Center, a low-income housing provider, purchased the property from the Low Income Housing Institute in 2008.

In March, Compass Center Executive Director Rick Friedhoff said he wanted to tear the building down, though construction was not imminent, because it was a fire hazard and people were getting in and out despite it being boarded up.

Michael Hardin, an employee at the nearby FedEx Kinko's, said he heard people were moving out of the building the morning of the demolition.

06/01/2009
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Photo credit: 
Michael Harthorne

The vacant house on Northwest 56th Street, a trouble spot according to neighbors, was torn down June 1 to eventually make way for a low-income housing development. CLICK IMAGE FOR MORE PHOTOS.

In 1985, the City of Seattle announced plans to spend more than $5 million of the city's general-fund dollars on creation of a new home for the elephants at the Woodland Park Zoo. Such a home, it was said, was long overdue. It just wasn't humane to cram those pachyderms into a cramped concrete enclosure, and they needed room to roam.

For housing advocates, this was bitterly ironic. Sure, it was a fine idea to renovate Dumbo's home, but the Reagan administration had just wiped out federal assistance programs for housing for low-income and working families across the country.

To top it off, there was a downtown-office boom under way, and city officials had just announced the loss of more than 1,500 low-income units to demolition and abandonment in downtown alone.

Hundreds of other units across the city also were giving way to new construction, while waiting lists for our city's limited stock of affordable rentals were exploding. The city's few homeless shelters were inundated with newly homeless people, including, for the first time, dozens of families with children.

05/28/2009

The Seattle City Council today passed a bill unanimously to accept $4.9 million from the federal government to go toward homelessness prevention and rent stabilization for those who need help due to job loss or other impacts from the slumping economy.

Sharon Lee, executive director of the Low-Income Housing Institute in Seattle, said at the council' s May 6 Housing and Economic Development Committee meeting that she would like to see a portion of the three-year, one-time funds go toward helping existing tenants who face job losses and homelessness.

"We would want to make sure the families and individuals don't lose their housing and become homeless," she said.

Lee said there are 7,000 people on a waiting list for her program's services, so the need is great.

The funds are coming from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development for funds from the Homelessness Prevention Fund allocated in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 ands would be allocated to help with rent stabilization, legal fees and more.

05/11/2009

Don Gulden, owner of 8701 Crown LLC, is one step closer to building a 15-unit apartment building at 1520 N.W. 87th St. using the city's multi-family tax exemption program, which requires some of the units to be affordable to those earning 80 percent of area median income in exchange for a property tax break.

The council's Housing and Economic Development Committee had approved the proposal on May 6 in part because they said a project that provides more affordable rents in the Crown Hill neighborhood utilizing the city's program has never been proposed.

The full Seattle City Council passed the item 9-0 today.

Under the city's multi-family tax exemption program, or "Homes Within Reach," developers can get a break on property taxes in exchange for building at least 20 percent of the units in a development to be affordable to those earning at or below 80 percent of median for studio and 1-bedroom units (roughly $47,200 for an individual and rent cannot exceed $1,180), or 90 percent of median for 2-bedroom and larger units ($53,100 for an individual and rent cannot exceed $1,328).

Under the city's program, the units must remain at those rental rates for 12 years.

05/11/2009
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Photo credit: 
Michael Harthorne

8701 Crown LLC owner Don Gulden received approval from the Seattle City Council to build a 15-unit apartment building here using the city's tax exemption program, which requires some units to be below market rate.

(Editor's note: This letter was sent to Seattle City Council members with a copy to this newspaper.)

Dear Council members:

We are writing as an ad hoc coalition of housing and homeless advocates to strongly urge you to support the renewal of our long-running and essential housing levy and it's placement on the 2009 ballot. In these tough economic times, the need in our community has risen precipitously with even longer waiting lists for subsidized units and a greatly overtaxed homeless shelter system.

We are prepared to work wit