Vancouver Study Shows Why Seattle's HALA Is Doomed To Fail


The city needs to get with the Housing First program in order to provide decent housing and services for unhoused people. Its not rocket science and being done successfully in other parts of the country. Its humane and far more economical than the prison industrial complex, emergency rooms and police.

I understand that the outdoor meal program has been cancelled by the city. This program has been helping people on the street for years. The churches that provide the food are upset.
Who in the city government is responsible for this cancellation? Can the Stranger do an investigation?
With a thousand people moving here a week, how can housing keep up? Inexpensive housing? Good Luck! Housing is slow and late and now its too late. If ten years ago the city could see in to the future and see this unexpected growth, no one would have believed them, no one. And everything the city could do would only be a fraction of the need. Things happen in the real world faster than Government would even acknowledge and anything they would do would be miniscule anyway.
#2 If this was a top priority it would be done. No excuses. Its not unexpected growth in casino capitalism its par for the course. So what is important to you? Positive change or the status quo? And where is most of the wealth going? Up. Get creative.
Well this article ought to get the HALA cheerleaders knickers in a bunch!
Charles in all seriousness i’m going to miss your writing on the Seattle housing market :(
Yes, Charles you should be the housing market writer. HALA is failing and will continue to fail. If only we can hope the City Council will come to its senses before the damage to our City is too great.
Charles. Usually I read your articles with the same reservations as David Brooks, by which I mean you both have a tendency to string together a rational related arguments then extrapolate an unrelated conclusion...but I have to agree with you 100 percent today.

The housing market is largely beyond local control.

But your continued writing on transportation can have a substantial impact on the form of Seattle growth for generations to come. In 2018 public outreach events, surveys (and backroom lobbying) will largely determine the station locations and routing of future light rail expansion to Ballard, and west Seattle. Without organized public pressure and turnout at these events the default station locations will be chosen to serve the politically connected developers and large tech employers. Your best friends.
HALA is a total joke. A well intentioned, Seattle "can do" joke, but none the less a farce.

First it is a top down bureaucratic attempt to "control a market", namely housing which is beyond its feeble grasp. The bungling regulations, poorly thought out "low income housing" elements, lack of economic incentives to increase the housing stock and caliber of the housing inventory will not work and will actually reduce overall housing affordability.

The obvious solution is to simply get out of the way and let the market forces solve the problem. It makes sense that low income or cost units should be outside the city where land and building costs are lower. That was why we spent billions on mass transit was it not?

In NYC its call the "bridge and tunnel" crowd. They commute daily on mass transit from the outlying areas where housing is less expensive into the city each works rather well.

“My main influences in macroeconomics are, of course, Karl Marx and the post-Keyensian Joan Robinson”. Interesting, clearly an advanced degree in economics and global economic strategy really doesn’t get one very far these days if the end of the career road is writing for The Stranger.
@8: "It makes sense that low income or cost units should be outside the city where land and building costs are lower."

Of course it does. But that runs counter to the YIMBY's ultimate goal of magically creating "equitability." The urbanists aren't about creating affordability, otherwise they'd be doing what you say they should and push to build affordable housing in less expensive areas where they'd get more bang for the public buck.

No, instead they believe in this socialist Utopia of equitability, where even a barista can live in the heart of one of most expensive cities in the country. Everyone has to be somehow made equal, according to them. And if they can't accomplish that by lifting people up, then they're perfectly happy to tear others down.

And then everyone will be equally miserable.
no way - all the totes progressive ideals are wrapped up in HALA; forcing stuff into neighborhoods that don't want it! everyone loses! its great! its seattle! its progressive! yeah!
It's easy to see how this applies to owner occupied real estate - single family, townhomes, in Vancouver condos thanks to their public sector insurer. That doesn't take any speculation about what the future might bring, Blackstone et al. are already here and undoubtedly have played a role in house prices.

I'd be interested though to see how it applies to the rental market, spelled out in more detail for those of us who are far outside the world of finance. Is there a "hot" market in apartments, or apartment construction projects, with speculative buyers who expect to cash in on value appreciation? How are rents affected by this, as opposed to competition purely in the rent market? Maybe the principle effect is actually just from the cost of ownership, as some fraction of the upper market will be either owners or renters depending on the economics?

The problem with your "solution" is of course that it simply pushes low-wage workers farther away from their low-wage jobs, which invariably means any cost-savings incurred from lower property/unit values is then immediately offset by increased transportation costs for one thing, not to mention the additional time lost (and as the Econ 101 students keep trying to pound home, "time is money") because of the longer distance traveled commuting from home to work.

Seriously, what's the point of forcing someone to live an hour away from their minimum-wage barista job (those Amazon & Google employees sure aren't going to pull their own double-shots, and I'm guessing even secretaries aren't required to perform that subservient task in the 21st Century) to save a few hundred bucks a month on housing, if it's just going to be spent on more bus fare or vehicle maintenance, gas, parking, additional childcare costs (because the kids need to be dropped off earlier and picked up later), and time lost being with family and friends or getting to vital services? It just leads to more stress on the environment, more sprawl, more stress on our already near-capacity transportation infrastructure, more physical and mental stress on the workers, and in the end doesn't really save anyone anything, it just moves the money from one term in the equation to another, but the result is still the same - the working poor pay more and get less. It's like the daylight savings analogy made by some apocryphal Indigenous Person: "Only a white man would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket and sew it to the bottom of a blanket and have a longer blanket."
@13: Do you think the cost of living is the same in Kent as it is in downtown Seattle? And I'm pretty sure that if no one's wanting to pull lattes for the tech bros because they're being "forced" to commute an hour for that minimum wage job, the coffee houses will raise their prices to pay higher wages to attract more baristas.

But let's cut to the chase: Would it make you happy if everyone was paid the same, no matter what their skill set is or how hard they work? Pay everyone based on need, rather than the value they offer to the company? is that what you'd like?
@14 - bingo! that is what this city is all about right now - the adult, real world version of "everyone gets" no "DESERVES a medal".

"The obvious solution is to simply get out of the way and let the market forces solve the problem"

Sweet, Abolish zoning. I'm in.
In case anybody else wants to read the referenced Globe and Mail article rather than the CBC article that is actually linked, here's the URL of the Globe and Mail article:…
Both this and Hulchanski's articles are beautifully written pseudo-macroeconomic gobbledygook. Foreign investment and job growth are vastly different ways of powering real estate. In Vancouver a vast number of houses sit unoccupied and used as vehicles to move money out of China and store it in a more stable country/currency than the yuan. The "commodification" of multifamily housing is an exaggeration- that market is driven by the middle class moving there, having been priced out of single family homes. Indeed there is more borrowing, buying, and flipping in markets with sharply rising prices, and new housing generally gets priced at a premium market rates, but increasing density as HALA proposes decreases the slope of housing price increases. For sure, as long as there is demand the city will become more expensive, but new units will help absorb that demand until supply catches up. As long as Vancouver remains a way for Chinese to offshore their yuan, prices will continue to increase and there will never be enough housing for everyone. You are aware of Vancouver's 15% foreign buyer tax are you not? Do you realize their single family market has come to a screeching halt?