The preliminary numbers released from a city-funded study suggest that affordable housing is, contrary to popular perception, actually increasing in rapidly gentrifying Seattle. That leads some affordable-housing experts to believe that the numbers may be false or the study flawed.

On September 13, Real Change hosted a forum featuring a "brain trust" of Seattle's "housing geeks" to hash out the details of Seattle's affordable-housing situation. Many of those geeks (including Seattle City Council Members Peter Steinbrueck and Tom Rasmussen) are concerned that Seattle's current condo-conversion trend and building boom is leaving low-income renters with few affordable places to live. Rasmussen believes the legislature should look into a cap or moratorium on condo conversion.

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Seattle Office of Housing Director Adrienne Quinn, however, holds a different view. "It's fiction to say we're losing low-income housing primarily because of condo conversion." Several months ago, affordable-housing advocates fought for $50,000 to do a study of housing in Seattle. Quinn supported her assertion with a surprising statistic from the first draft of that study: since 2004, Seattle has experienced a net increase in affordable housing, gaining 854 units.

Other experts on the panel found that number suspect. Seattle Displacement Coalition head John Fox called Quinn's finding "absolutely ridiculous" and its release "politically motivated." Fox sits on the task force that helped develop the study and was alarmed he and other members weren't shown the numbers before Quinn busted them out at the forum. Fox has filed a public disclosure request with Quinn's office for all documents related to the study. In the meantime, he contends that it's highly unlikely affordable housing is increasing in the city and points to a statistic of his own: 681 housing units were demolished within the last year. The final study is slated for release in October or November.