Elections 2023 Jan 26, 2023 at 9:00 am

Is It Perfect? No! Is It Worth a Shot? Fuck Yeah!

The dream of permanently affordable, publicly owned housing is coming into focus. Frank Okay



Seattle already has a program to build low income housing and a property management organization, Bellwether Housing, which manages low income housing. They are funded. Why would we want to add another layer of bureaucracy to compete with these efforts? And as the article makes clear, I-135 will not alleviate housing shortages that are going on right now. I don't get it.


Bellweather Housing is clearly not getting the job done. I'd turn the question around and ask, why would we continue to do what we're doing and expect different results?


The Seattle Times points out:

Voters ought to reject I-135. At a time when hundreds of millions of public dollars are being spent on housing across the state — and Seattle voters will be asked in November to approve a renewal of the Housing Levy that could approach $900 million — I-135 is a distraction at best, a money-pit at worst.
As it stands, I-135 has no funding and no accountability for public dollars.
There are other reasons to reject this measure. The business model aims to attract tenants with very low incomes along with those earning 20% more than median income, defined as $120,907 for a family of four. The theory is that people would be willing to pay above market rates to subsidize the lower rents of their neighbors in the same building.
I-135 wants to build energy-efficient housing, and would make it difficult to evict tenants. All that adds cost. What’s more, the majority of the Seattle Social Housing Developer board would be comprised of residents who live in the buildings they purport to oversee, a baked-in conflict of interest.
Finally, there are many groups with long track records that have successfully built thousands of units of affordable housing in Seattle. In a statement on I-135, the Housing Development Consortium of Seattle-King County, a group of nonprofit housing developers, financial institutions and local governments, wrote: “We do not need another government entity to build housing when there are already insufficient resources to fund existing entities.”
Real Change has traditionally focused on advocating for those who are experiencing homelessness. It is a bit jarring to read in the initiative: “This ordinance does not concern homelessness housing …”
If I-135 doesn’t try to fix arguably the most pressing challenge of housing those who are unsheltered, what is the point?
Voters should reject I-135 and be prepared to review the very large housing tax proposals yet to come.



A new, unfunded program to provide housing for persons making $120,000 is dumb. The fact that there isn't a better competing initiative doesn't change that, it's still a dumb idea.

Overdose deaths within the homeless community increased 65% last year alone. https://apnews.com/article/health-seattle-4b20246a2b18e34f46688cf1dee3ed90 Substance abuse is unquestionably a huge problem within the homeless community, and that should be our #1 priority right now.


@2 yep. I-135 looks to change the market by being a major player and price setting force, that will drive down the cost of market housing. This insistence on viewing housing as some kind of charity or something “the market” will fix (in spite of all the evidence camping on your sidewalk or sleeping in cars that this doesn’t work) is a folly. I will say I do worry about all the governance issue baker into the structure, but I only get a yes or no vote; voting yes.


honestly refreshing to see my fellow left embrace "not perfect" for once.


Thanks for the guidance Stranger Election Control Board! Now I know to vote no.


no doubt this will pass because Seattle loves themselves wonky ideas but since it has no funding mechanism and the city is staring down the barrel of declining revenues the next few years (unless of course throws them a lifesaver by approving an income tax) it will sit on the back shelf collecting dust and doing nothing. I actually kind of like the idea and if its so great make it work without the city needing to fund it.


@8 the funding needed from the City is startup staff, something like $800k (not a huge chunk of a $7B budget, and money well spent to address the housing crisis). Otherwise this will be funded by bonds secured by future rents, just like a developer takes out a loan based on rent revenue, or publicly bonded sports stadiums leveraged by ticket sales. It’s mindboggling how foreign this concept is to even the relatively educated strata of this publications readership.


Wait — I thought the very existence of a special election was per se evidence of attempted voter suppression, and an affront to democracy?

“… so now we have to spend this time thinking about yet another fucking election. Luckily, this time only one question will appear on the ballot, and the answer is easy.


‘Though King County hasn't scheduled an election in December since it started keeping records in 2004, so-called "special elections" such as this one draw 25% less turnout on average.’



@10, ??? A February election is not the same as a general in November, but it’s pretty standard for your school levies and other minutia that needs a mechanism to get in front of voters. And there’s nothing “anti-progressive” about these, voters pass those levies every time. The Sawant recall was exceptional but what’s the point of arguing an outcome that tipped in her favor? (Remember when Trump had that voter fraud workgroup shortly after he was elected? Yeah, that)


“the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment increased 9% year-over-year to a whopping $1,710.“

Which is affordable to a person making the median per capita salary of $68,836.



It was written by the grifters at Real Change, whose major contribution to Seattle is giving panhandlers safety vest and props.


@9 perhaps not a huge chunk but with the city looking at declining revenues the competition for fewer dollars is going to be fierce. Honestly, if the start up cost is that low then why not get one of the local philanthropist organizations to underwrite it as a trial and prove it works.


@11: I was just making fun of the Stranger’s bald hypocrisy about special elections. Both the Sawant Recall election and I-135 appear on special elections because their campaigns were not very well organized, and thus unable to qualify for the regular elections.

For the Sawant Recall, the Stranger raged at every turn of events which led to the special election, furiously calling the campaign’s organizers all kinds of names, and seeing nefarious plots behind the delay. For I-135, the Stranger calmly accepted each explanation from the campaign at face value, blithely ignoring that all previous explanations had been proven completely wrong.

The irony is that Recall Sawant was an ad hoc affair, while I-135 is from Real Change, a longstanding organization dedicated to public outreach. (This may help explain why the homeless population has exploded in the years Real Change has operated.)


@17 dang you have some low opinion of minimum wage baristas, retail workers, students and single parents aka “low income” people. I mean, I ride the bus with these people and manage not to sneer at them.


so common
be Able to Live
& maybe Thrive in
a City like Seattle? why
the Fuck Not? fuck housing as
Commodity -- at least not for ALL

let's Build our Way
outta this Mess
Let the Com-
Plainers find
solace else-


@18: Actually, he’s expressing his low opinion of tech bros.


Where do they expect to build in Seattle and how will they try to get the land to build? Apply eminent domain on property owners in various neighborhoods and pay them below market values for their properties? So basically screw the home/condo/property owners in this city?


This initiative feels like the monorail of housing. A duplicative agency. A questionable design. Unlimited funding demands. What could go wrong?


I'm voting no. Reading through the actual initiative has more details than what the Stranger's writers are mentioning. The City Council has more power without any oversight with regards to housing. Renting without a background check. That's going to open a Pandora's box.

Also I'm concerned over the cost and the looming budget crisis this city is going to have. As the city faces commercial property being less utilized, which has a negative impact for small and large businesses in the city due to less office workers coming back in to Seattle for work. In addition to that, we have major businesses, which have been used as anti-"the-man" ballot initiatives and SCCC temper tantrums/rants, either reducing or eliminating their commercial space in the city. Again this has negative financial repercussions to homegrown small businesses who serve either these major businesses or their employees.

Also the following mentioned in the post:
* all financed with bonds against expected revenue from rents.

Define revenue from rentals? Are we talking about buildings designated as apartment complexes or are we also including rent from homeowners renting rooms or property owners renting their single-family dwellings/condos?

Restorative Justice - Are you basically saying that if a tenant is sexually harassing another tenant that the harassed tenant must go before a committee/board to inform them of this and that there must be a Kumbaya session where the harasser doesn't face any repercussions? What about physical assault? What if SPD is called and has to resolve the matter, which involves an arrest? What happens if there's a felony assault/burglery committed by a tenant? What happens if there's illegal drug use going on such as meth or fentanyl and that smoke permeates the walls in the units bordering the offending unit? What happens when a drug addict falls asleep while lighting their fentanyl and damages their own and the surrounding units? What do you tell those displaced due to the fire damage?

"Social housing will work in tandem with non-profit and federally funded housing developments to pull more housing off of the private market. " - How exactly will this be accomplished? If i'm a seller, I want to sell to someone who'll live in it not turn the house and the lot into a bunch of micro-townhomes. If some federally funded program contacts the seller, is the seller required to take their offer instead of the other lucrative offers with higher offer prices? I can imagine that this would reduce the inventory in the Seattle market, thus increasing property values.


How does this new organization differ from Seattle Housing Authority, and as others have mentioned the other organizations with low income housing development as part of their missions? As others have stated, these other organizations, for whatever reasons, are not getting job done. I'm not in favor, yet, of my tax dollars being identified later, to fund something like this, if pressure can be brought to bear on the existing organizations to restructure to get the job done with the resources they (hopefully) already have in place.


@25 I don’t like that there’s no business plan attached with this bill. As a business owner I would have tossed it in the garbage as being way too ambiguous and poorly written. I say reject it for now and rewrite it with a proper business plan. For now it’s a no.


@3 I think the idea is that people making the area median income (AMI) will be paying essentially market rate, and that what would otherwise be owner profit will instead go to subsidizing low income renters. Whether or not the math on this works out I'm not sure, but it's notable that in their example project they imagine 50% of tenants making between 80%-120% AMI and 28% are making 50%-80% AMI, so the majority of the units would be filled with tenants who don't need subsidizing.


More and more people are working from home. So, it's no longer necessary for housing for working people to be located near some office or store or factory, or inside some arbitrary line on a map, so some arbitrary governmental-unit can glom onto tax revenue.
Doesn't it make sense to build new housing away from urban congestion? You want urban villages, why not put them where land is affordable and transportation is not clogged in gridlock and the air is breathable?
I can just bet Ritzville or Walla Walla or Republic would love all the money ( and the jobs ) that comes with development.


@29 Honestly what is missing from those places is healthcare infrastructure. I'm not saying that's insoluble, but that's the reason people stay in Seattle and other large cities, despite not being otherwise very accommodating places for people with low incomes.


Nope. I'm all for public housing. But (among other problems) this initiative would make it impossible to get rid of problem tenants (or to avoid them via any kind of background check), which guarantees that whatever buildings it puts up will become gang-infested shitholes. Poor people should not be exempt from some kind of standards of behavior or accountability. We can do much better.


what tech bro is making 120 k while married and with 2 kids? Most of these people have a salary of something like 180K and get up to 400k a year in options and are neither married nor with children.

Oh my Gawd Dewey found a way to bring up how much he hates levies. Should we have an income tax instead then buddy? Or is that too progressive of an idea for you.


Voted No only because the morons who write for the stranger said to vote yes. I read The Stranger for chuckles. Kind of opposite the type of chuckle from the Comics in the New Yorker…funny because they are so stupid that it seems like the Onion.


I suggest that those opposed to Social Housing investigate the Social Housing now operating in Europe very well. In Vienna, Austria it has been operating successfully for around 100 years. Vienna has 2 million people or so.

Vienna has very little unhoused people. They also do not have a massive police budget and is a very safe city. What we are doing now is obviously not working.

All the years I rented through half the 90s there were no background checks and were not needed. The discrimination by some is just stupid.

Do not let bigotry stop this positive advance here to house people be delayed anymore. Thank you.


13 and 14 You have not yet figured out who the real grifters are have you?

Stupid remarks by one commentator who blames the Real Change newspaper for the homeless just shows what idiots we are up against.


Vote YES because Social Housing has proven results and it makes cities far more livable.

What we have now is disaster after disaster. Lets end this and put in Social Housing people.


Maybe check US history on social housing success and failures? One thing that struck me as odd was how much money and canvassing the i135 movement is pushing for this bill. If a bill was such a great idea it should sell itself. Everyone agrees housing is an issue though. Makes you wonder when people are trying too hard to sell something like i135… and living is social housing before for me was awful. The government used the cheapest materials to build it affordable and ended up poisoning me and others with lead, arsenic, and Aspergillosis in my lungs. Let’s not repeat history again…


@35: Real Change has always marketed itself as a way we could help the homeless to help themselves get off the streets and back into housing. The explosion of homelessness in Seattle during the time Real Change has operated casts doubt upon Real Change’s ability to do this, and their struggle just to put I-135 in the ballot suggests Real Change can’t perform public outreach well — even though that outreach is supposed to be part of Real Change’s core competency. In short, Real Change has given Seattle’s voters little reason to believe HON will succeed in building the social housing you claim Seattle needs. Your beef is with Real Change, not anyone else.

Calling your fellow citizens “idiots” for noting these facts does nothing to induce them to vote for I-135.


38 No mention about the massive success of Social Housing in Europe. Why is that?

37 Very sorry for the poorly built residential structures you experienced and hope you continue to recover. That is something that must not continue. Much of the public housing in this country was poorly maintained and failed to provide decent housing. There is very little social housing available in this country so it would be difficult to find.

If we care at all about people dying on our streets then we need to build something that works. We have the opportunity now.

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