If You Live in Seattle and Your Household Makes Less than $80,000 a Year, You're Now in the Minority

Comments

1
Assuming "you" are an entire household.
2
Yeah. Totally misleading headline.
3
Gee guys, I was totally able to glean the "household income" thing - by, you know, reading the post.
4
It's tragic that Black and Hispanic households were left out. And it's tragic that lower income households are being displaced.

If it weren't for Seattle's refusal to let developers build enough housing to meet the large demand, wouldn't this otherwise be a success story? What city doesn't want lots of good high-paying jobs? Let's let developers build enough tall homes for all of the new people with money, and there would be little displacement and more jobs and money for everyone.

(plus add an income tax to spread this new wealth around.)
5
It's a shame that State, regional, and city government has not done enough to diversify the economy beyond bits, bytes, and airplanes for people that are not plugged into those areas through education, skills, or connections. There is a presumption among the political elites that enough of the wealth from those areas will provide enough stimulus to other sectors and other pocketbooks from a broad swath of the population but that doesn't appear to be the case.

Maybe the lords of industry like Gates, instead of spending time and money on third world disease, tax breaks from Olympia, and charter schools--primarily benefiting elite family kids, should spend some noblesse oblige dollars within the Puget sound region or the state on a Manhattan Project of sorts to provide the education and skills necessary to break into the new information economy.
6
@4, your past comments have shown a bit more...knowledge. Are you having synapse problems?
7
@4:

In the past two years, practically every affordable SFD on my street in N Ballard has been demo'ed and replaced by four or six hamster boxes, none of which have sold for less than $650K; one "luxury unit" (it has floor-to-ceiling windows and a view of Mt. Rainier, which are only the obvious amenities) just went for close to a cool million. There are even a few 12 - 40 unit apartment buildings going up within a couple of blocks where several lots were consolidated. My guess is they'll all be condos starting in the mid six-figures. So, basically what those developers are doing is eliminating all the older (read: affordable to median-income people) structures and replacing them with lots and lots of high-end units that only someone working a coding job at Amazon will be able to afford.

The idea that: "if we only build more, the law of supply-and-demand will take care of things" is pure, unadulterated bat guano, because in order to build what we need to accommodate the massive influx of new tech minions, we're simultaneously eliminating anything someone earning below that $80,000 per year threshold could possibly afford, and there won't be any downward pressure on the market, because those tech workers aren't moving UP from lower-priced units, they're moving into higher-priced ones as soon as they hit town, leaving nothing for the middle-income folks displaced by new development to move into - at least not within the city limits.
7
Are we going to stop pretending the city is ever going to offer a full spectrum of rents from Everett-class shitholes on up? Last I checked everything has been going up and up and up since the 90s. This place may as well be San Francisco with less startups and more terrible drivers on H-1B visas.
8
@3 I read the entire post and the linked article—I don't think it's pedantic to see the headline as willfully hyperbolic.
9
And @6, agree that I've witnessed a very similar effect. The argument for the creation of "affordable" housing is not one to be made for the free market as those units will require subsidies.
10
Apologies, previous was directed @comte
11
@7 And what, exactly, happens when we don't build units for people coming into town? Do you think they all say "oh no, no *luxury* units. screw that $200k tech job, I'm moving back to wherever." Of course not - they rent your apartment and displace you.

The reason you're seeing prices going up at the same time as the city is building is because it isn't building fast enough. We're adding jobs at 4x to 6x the rate that we're adding homes. Where will all of those new households live? Your apartment.

Is it such a terrible proposition to upzone just a bit of the 65% land area that's locked down as single family homes (compared to the 13% of our land area where the other half of our population lives - multifamily zones)? Remember that every unit you refuse to build displaces another household. And that displaced household is never the one with the new high-paying job.
12
@9/10 I'm strongly in favor of subsidized housing. But I'm also in favor of *any* new housing, and the private market is building far more units than we'll ever get in subsidized housing in our income-tax-free state. As long as the number of homes doesn't come close to the number of families that need homes, we lose.
13
I'd feel better about this if programmers were doing public good in some way, like engineering, public service, doctoring, whatever....anything other than making easier to buy things.
14
@3: if you think headlines shouldn't accurately reflect content then maybe you should apply for a copy editor job at Fox News. You're qualified.
15
I guess now that I'm officially a minority and 40k below the majority its time to leave the state! Have fun finding a competent taxpaying workforce!
16
@9:

It wouldn't be so bad if developers could somehow be compelled to actually build "affordable mid-range housing", as not everyone needs brushed steel appliances, granite countertops, heated floors, or centralized vacuum systems. But, that would also require a landlord who owns and maintains the building as rental units - again not everyone can afford a condo or SFD, even a reasonably-priced one - and that seems to be a rarity in all this new environment. As it is, developers demolish, clear, build, sell, and walk away with wheelbarrows full of cash, leaving the owners to deal when things start falling apart, which, based on the materials I've seen go into these things should start happening in just a few years.
17
@14:

If you expect to learn everything you need to know about the content of an article from just the headline, you're doing it wrong.
18
Who's going to be left besides not me?
19
Oh, fuck the poor. They're so tiresome with all that whining.
20
@17: there's a reason why she changed it.
21
Being below the median doesn't make one a "minority". By design, when you compute a median exactly half the population is above, and half below, that median.

What it does mean is that an annual salary of less than $80K is now a below average income in Seattle.
22
That's cool. We're looking at another recession in two to three years, and the monopoly money that is real estate investment is going to evaporate.
23
@20:

Yes, because apparently some people who follow SLOG have the reading comprehension of a seventh-grader - a low-on-the-curve seventh-grader at that - and can't make it past the big letters...
24
>> It wouldn't be so bad if developers could somehow be compelled to actually build "affordable mid-range housing",

What, you mean like Apodments? Sorry, the city outlawed them.

Hell, on about 2/3 of the available residential land (meaning far less than the total land in the city) you can't build anything but a single family house. So of course they are tearing down property in a handful of neighborhoods to build apartments. Where else are they supposed to build apartments? If you can't even add a backyard bungalow, or a basement apartment, then you can expect every apartment to be extremely expensive.

It's not rocket science. You either allow more construction, or somehow force the jobs out of town. Otherwise, rent will continue to go up.
25
@21

All that, and then you go and use "average income" incorrectly.

Average income in Seattle (as in most of the developed world) is higher than median income.
26
@24:

Yeah, remember the "good old days" of, say, the 1980's or '90's when a middle-income family could afford to buy a house in Seattle? Not an apodment, or a two-bedroom condo, but a real 2BR 2BA SINGLE FAMILY HOUSE?
27
@7 do you think those old houses being torn down are "affordable"? Most are going for 500k +. Looking at redfin most homes in ballard go for over 500k+, including the ones that are just tear downs. Just cause 1 house is replaced with 4 unaffordable town houses doesn't mean the original house was affordable. And at least it gets 4+ people out of the rental market.

Although I agree we need development + regulation, one without the other won't help.
28
we're not sure headline writer understands 'median'...

alternate headline:

If You Live in Seattle and Your Household Makes More than $80,000 a Year, You're Now in the Minority
29
@13 Pretty sure that most engineers, people in public service, and doctors use software every single day, and not just to shop. So is every person posting in this thread, writing these articles, etc.
30
(fact checking myself: we're adding jobs at around 2x the rate we're building homes. my point still stands, but I regret the error.)

@27 that's when home prices were deflated after the Great Boeing Layoff and the population in Seattle declined. It still amazes me that we expect people to be able to live in 5,000 sf lot sized homes even in a fairly large city. That physically can't happen beyond a certain population, and we're feeling the stress of trying to force this condition.
31
@24 apodments were banned because they were a way to capitalize on the overblown housing market and new renters' stupidity. We should not allow Hong Kong-sized appliance cubes in our city unless we want an even worse QOL disparity than there is already.
32
@25 A median is a type of average, designed to minimize the skewing caused by outliers. You're referring to the mean, which may or may not be higher than the median depending on the extent and position of outliers.
33
ALL THE TAX BASE ARE BELONG TO ME
34
That's not how statistics work... You're not in a minority if you are below the average...
35
I regret mentioning the headline. That got pretty nasty.
36
80k doesn't seem to outrageous. 3 young adults living together on capitol hill and making minimum wage earn $68k combined.
37
@16 I'm sure you familiar with the process called filtering. Basically, developers have and will almost always build exclusively for the top end of the market. This is true both in boom times, like now, and in bust times. In a severe bust and when there is no "top" of the market, there simply is not much building going on at all (the Detroit problem).

Like Matt the Engr says, if they aren't renting that new unit for $3k/month, they're renting your apartment for $3k/month and you are being dropped. If they don't have a new/more expensive unit to move in to, your landlord is incentivized to evict you or raise the rent until you self-evict (self-eviction is the most common form of displacement). The only bulwark for you, middle/low income person, to continue paying reasonable rent for your current abode is for better, shinier units to be available.

Those new, better, shinier units of today are subsequently outmoded by the new shiny units of tomorrow, and suddenly the top of the market no longer wants those Belltown condos or pike/pine studio condos. Owners can either sit on them, or rent them to people slightly further down the socio-economic ladder. Think of Brooklyn - tens of thousands of brownstone walkups - nearly identical, built for the slightly wealthy (equivalent to a 500k 2br nowadays) around the turn of the century; today occupied mostly by low income people.

Filtering. It is known.
38
Thanks for pointing out this article to people who don't read the Seattle Times because it's been bothering me since I saw it. As a writer and artist, the income scale dwarfs what I make, and I feel I contribute to the culture of Seattle as much as an IT worker, though it's much harder for me to survive here. Charles Mudede's recent article, "Hot Money and Seattle's Growing Housing Crisis: Part One" and yesterday's Seattle Times article, "China's Top Spot" stating that Seattle has become China's No. 1 market for homes sales (cash sales) are a factor in all this as well. It's scary to think that the people who live here now will not be able to live here if there aren't controls put in place. There's too much denial in government because there's so much money pouring in, and it's changing the place we love so much that it's sickening, and, people, it's forever if we don't do something about it really soon. I see the results of what Amazon has done, just to give one example (but a BIG one), and the changing face of Seattle is becoming the post-child for tacky condos. Sad): Now that Amazon has grown into a behemoth that has no controls or moral integrity for the changes they're causing this city, I wonder how many people would stop buying with them if they knew that it would destroy Seattle and possibly impact the environment more than anyone knows (think cardboard boxes used to ship toothpaste and cereal which is at the corner store and gas to drive them to your door, etc)? It's not the fault of the people who are working in the tech sector for Amazon that it's destroying Seattle at an astonishing rate, but the larger picture is lost when there's no accountability to our area and its cost of living, to say nothing of environmental concerns, and even though Besos had a vision that was an inevitability, ie. buying online for convenience and affordability, he's grown so big and wealthy he's building rocket ships and toying with space travel while Seattle is being destroyed one neighborhood at a time. It's hard to stop progress, but if this is progress, then we're in for the shock of our lives because it's out-of-control and getting the word out in The Stranger and The Times is an important start to gaining control of our city again.
39
#38. I know you're mad as hell and don't want to take it anymore, but your blaming the wrong people. Bezos is not planning the destruction of Seattle, he's creating wealth for thousands of people. We the people are in control of Seattle. Individual people and families are moving here by individual choice. It's progress and it ain't always pretty, but that's the face of it. Don't know if you were born here or not, but your choice to stay or move here is the same choice all the other individuals made. Sorry as a writer and artist your having a tough time, but your better off in a growing city than Cle Elum.

The denial of Government has more to do with over half a century of one party Democratic rule and it's insatiable appetite for more taxes then anything else.

If you're worried about Amazon's carbon footprint then don't look at the Seattle Times. They cut trees down too. It takes a lot of energy and pollution to create pulp and paper to print the Times. Then there is the enormous fleet of trucks, vans and cars delivering that heavy paper to every newsstand, coin box, Starbucks, 7-11, grocery store and homes that subscribe to the Times. That happens every day. All over the State and beyond. Then at the end of the day it's trash, whether you read it or not. Yes, you can recycle newsprint a time or two, but that takes a lot of energy too and the ink that is extracted is toxic waste. At least I reuse those Amazon cardboard boxes.
40
@34 The author's error is based on a flawed understanding of a median value. Your post is based on a flawed understanding of an average value. You are both dead wrong, but in different ways.