Conlin: Focus Housing for Poor in Cheaper South Seattle

Comments

1
Just writing Kshama's speeches for her, isn't he?

I wonder how Bruce and Tim feel about this...
2
It's so disgusting and discouraging that Seattle pretends to be such a progressive city and it's just NOT - it is so racist and provincial in so many ways (and don't get me wrong, I am a big fan of Seattle - but this is a serious problem). It's unbelievable to me that even if it was something a city council member believed - actually stating it as possible policy shows how very far Seattle needs to move forward into the 21st century.
3
I will happily vote to get rid of Conlin.
4
Typical Conlin. See VoteSawant.org
5
Racist and provincial compared to where? I've lived in NYC, Phoenix, Boston, etc and know Chicago, New Orleans, DC, LA etc pretty well. All of these cities are far more racist and every one them except for the Manhattan part of NYC can also give Seattle's provincialism a run for its money. The only thing I've found to be unique about Seattle's racism is this is the first place I've ever run into some pretty nasty shit directed against Native Americans, though that seems more regional than specific to Seattle.
6
If the city is going to allow a rezone, then everyone in our community should benefit - including the workers who make that rezone economically viable.

How about allowing taller buildings in SLU, but only if a portion of the upper-level residential units are allocated to the working poor?
7
@6,

Anything less is a giveaway to developers, but that's the council's stock in trade. A small portion of the new development will be slated to be affordable for 80 percent of median, which will make the resulting rent only slightly less than market rate.
8
I can understand the point about more housing units would be able to be constructed in South Seattle than in SLU or downtown, but this was very inelegantly stated.

The commuting costs for workers (both time and money), quality of schools for their children, and safety of the surrounding neighborhoods come in to play here.

Seattle Housing Group is redeveloping Yesler Terrace to include subsidized and market rate housing. I haven't heard much about the social engineering aspects of this lately. If I'm not mistaken, part of the reasoning for making Yesler Terrace more mixed income is the lower income children would be exposed to higher earners and understand the interaction of learning, hard work, and perserverance to success. If this is true, then wouldn't the same hold true for SLU? Or is it not the case because instead of putting richer people in poorer neighborhoods, we're talking about putting poorer people in richer neighborhoods?
9
Oh, but Dominic, Conlin was your best buddy yesterday? Maybe you should reconsider your reductionist view on the apodment controversy when folks like Conlin are on your side.
10
Looking forward to voting Conlin out. And isn't the light rail going to be all over the city? How many service workers are at the UW, Swedish, etc? Not everyone works directly downtown. The Rainier Valley already is clogged with affordable housing. Spread the developments and integrate this commitment across the region. The ship canal divide is soo averse to Seattle there is no legitimate reason to continue this trend that has already segregated the city for the last 50 yrs.
11
I forget. Are we supposed to be worried about displacement or redlining in the Rainier Valley this week?
12
@9) I understand where Conlin is coming from—I think he's coming from a good place, trying to build as much affordable housing as possible. And I appreciate he understands that government can never build as much as we need. He understands, then, how important aPodments are. He should also understand that we're building central Seattle right now, and now is the time to make sure we have mixed-income, mixed-use neighborhoods. That means luxury suites, subsidized apartments, aPodments... the whole nine yards. It's only fair. That means—no matter the protests he may hear—making sure workers have a place in the central city, not just a place on the commuter train.
13
I think it was a poor choice to name one specific area, but there's a real choice we're making. As a city, do we want to pay for, say, 3 housing units per million dollars or 8 housing units in cheaper areas? What would those 8 families choose?

O'Brien's right that there's more to this than dollars. There is real value in having complete neighborhoods that house a variety of income levels. But dollars should be a very large part of the equation, since they directly equal number of families served.
14
@11 Now we're worried about gentrification through subsidised housing. Or something.
15
Shorter version: All dem poor will love the new ghettos.
16
Just to be clear, only 10% of Yesler Terrance will be affordable, subsidized housing. They will live in separate high-rises from the 90% of the units that are market-rate. I don't call that "mixing."
17
@7, "80% of median" is code for "completely unaffordable to people of color".

But the problem of the wealthy hollowing out the central core of cities for themselves is endemic to ALL CITIES, not just Seattle. Take a look at the class maps of American cities (Houston) that Richard Florida has been putting up over at Atlantic Cities: every single one has a core of purple "creative class", surrounded by vast belts of red "service class" and occasional blotches of blue "working class".

For all the talk of South Seattle, I think people forget about the large areas of lower-income people in other parts of the city, like the long stretches of apartments running up Greenwood Avenue. In some ways those people are worse off, since they don't have light rail, or much retail (aside from car-oriented Aurora). I'd put the huge and shabby Rite Aid at 130th and Aurora against anything in the South End for the sheer stank of hopelessness. And, you know, the well-off white people are colonizing the South End, too, as far as Columbia City, and pushing the poor even further.

That's probably an inevitable process; there's certainly little the city can do about it. What they need to worry about most is the soul-deadening effects of too many rich white people; when the last hardware store shuts and gets replaced by a twee handcrafted hair-barrette shoppe or artisanal cocktail lounge ($13 and up), rigor mortis sets in. When everybody is hip, no one is.
18
This was a good story, well sourced with corresponding quotes and lacking in overheated hyperbole.

Credit where credit is due.
19
ProstSeattle@8:

If I'm not mistaken, part of the reasoning for making Yesler Terrace more mixed income is the lower income children would be exposed to higher earners and understand the interaction of learning, hard work, and perserverance to success.


Umm, yeah....I think you are pretty mistaken. I'm sure you didn't intend your statement to sound condescending; but it was a page right out of a Reagan-era "welfare-queen" policy paper.

The point is not to expose those children to the "superior values" of the upper-middle class. Rather, the point is to create the potential for access to the social networks that those higher earners represent. In many cases, the parents of those children respect education and hard work as much if not more than your average MS middle manager pushing a jogging stroller around Green Lake. The problem is that they can't depend on mommy or daddy's buddy letting them know about an internship opportunity on their team at Amazon.

The large majority of the people we are talking about are not lazy, gang-bangers and otherwise criminal. They are working poor, and most likely recent immigrants or historically screwed-over minorities. They are structurally not morally disadvantaged.
20
@16:
Not sure where you are getting your facts from:

"The plan includes 661 “extremely” low-income units to replace the 561 currently in the neighborhood as well as 290 “very” low-income units and 850 “workforce” units. In addition, the plan calls for 3,199 market-rate units, mostly in high-rise condo and apartment buildings."

That's more like 36%...not 10% as you claim. Also, there will be 100 more "extremely" low-income units than before...not even counting the "very" low-income and the "workforce" units.

Good job crying wolf.
21
Land cost is such a small piece of the per-unit cost of subsidized housing, especially when you take into account that you (generally) can build at greater density and heights in areas in which the land cost is higher. Conlin is poorly-advised by his staff if he doesn't understand this.

@9 Seattle Housing AUTHORITY (and no, I'm not nitpicking, it's a critical difference) and the reason Yesler Terrace is mixed income is so they can make this economically profitable.
22
Wait a minute! One minute people are getting worried about displacement and gentrification along the light rail and now we are concerned that the city wants to be sure and build affordbale housing along light rail. I don't think we need to be worried about the Valley being a ghetto, we need to work hard to ensure people of all incomes have access to the best transit.
23
Being poor sucks. We should help, but there should always be the reminder that it takes hard work to not be poor. Sometimes you have to couch surf, sometimes you need to move into a house with 6 people. Sometimes you have to eat top ramen, and sometimes you have to live on MLK if you want other people to pay for your housing. I worked my butt of for years to get to a place where I could buy a townhome in the RV, and now we want to build sec8 housing in one of the most expensive parts of the city? Nope. Come join me down in the valley.
24
Keeps the niggers in the south end. Got it.
25
Everyone agrees that it would be better to have economic diversity within neighborhoods. The tougher questions are how much can we afford to spend on subsidies to make that happen, and where does the funding come from? Conlin is smart to point out the financial downside of subsidizing housing in an expensive neighborhood like SLU. Thousands of people commute to downtown every day from less expensive neighborhoods. Furthermore, taxing the production of housing is a counterproductive way to fund affordable housing subsidy: http://citytank.org/2013/03/19/the-peopl…
26
@23 They're not talking about rebuilding Yesler Terrace in SLU. More like setting a small percentage of new construction aside for lower incomes.

Every neighborhood should have low income housing.
27
"Everyone agrees that it would be better to have economic diversity within neighborhoods"

I don't.
28
@25, what are you doing? This thread is for spreading heat, not light.
29
"80% of median" is code for "completely unaffordable to people of color".


You think I don't know that? That's what I'm complaining about. The council is in a position to get at least slightly better concessions from developers, not that it will help much, but even a negligible amount of affordable housing is better than none.
30
@16 and @17 have very good points.

True mixed development mixes upper range, mid range, and lower range housing ON THE SAME FLOOR and IN THE SAME BUILDING.

And lower range is 40 percent of minimum wage income for a place that is big enough for 2 adults and 1-2 kids.
31
@12 - I agree. I would also say that Conlin's suggestion is culturally and historically ignorant. But that doesn't mean it couldn't be a really good idea. Think about it. If you could go back in time and buy any house in Seattle in say, 1970 or 1980, where would you buy? The answer is obvious: The C. D. Buy a house across the street from Garfield and you would have done really, really well. Much better than if you bought a house in Wallingford, West Seattle or Queen Anne. Areas that were once thought of as scary are now just fine. Conlin may assume that the same thing will happen all over again, just a little further south. Buying cheap housing in that area means that twenty years from now you achieve exactly what you say you want, poor people mixed in with wealthy ones. You just have to look at the intrinsic value of the property. Property next to a freeway will always be worth less than quiet property. Likewise with property close to the freeway. The opposite is true of view property or property that is very convenient. Light rail has changed (and will continue) to change the definition of convenient. Wallingford used to be considered extremely convenient (sitting between Aurora and I-5) but traffic has changed that. Roosevelt is about to become way more convenient because it has its own station.

All that being said, I'm not sure if Rainier Valley is the best value. Maybe Aurora and 130th (as someone suggested) makes more sense. I could see it rapidly turning around if they add more sidewalks and more transit options. The transit options could become outstanding, actually. Conlin (of all people) has pushed for a rail stop at 130th and 5th NE (north of Northgate). There will also be bus rapid transit up Aurora. The rail stop will probably lead to a fast, frequent bus along 130th, which means that someone from Bitterlake could easily and quickly get downtown, to the U-District, Lake City Way, etc. This sounds like a better spot and it wouldn't surprise me if it is actually cheaper.
32
@20 - You have to remember - some of that increase in low-income and workforce housing will occur a couple blocks east of the current YT footprint. The opponents of the plan don't count those units.

Additionally, losing million dollar views while living in squalor, and replacing it with non-million dollar views and safe and habitable spaces, is far from a preferred option.
33
I am with you except for the aPodments.

APodments are the very definition of slums and slum living!
34
@33 Yes. Let's ban all cheap and inexpensive housing. Mansions for everyone! What could possibly go wrong?
35
Tired of Richard Conlin and the City Council bowing before the interests of the property developers and the super rich? Check out the Kshama Sawant campaign kick-off party, this Friday (3/22) at 7pm at The Neighbor Lady (2308 E Union Street).

Sawant will be kicking off her campaign against the 16-year incumbent Richard Conlin. Learn how you can get involved, and hear from Kshama Sawant, community and labor organizers about why we're building a left challenge to big business control of City Hall.

https://www.facebook.com/events/50672834…
http://votesawant.org/
36
If I've got hungry kids to feed and you give me a subsidized apartment in a hot neighborhood, I'll sublet that bitch at market rate in a heartbeat. I'd be a fool not to. I might be poor but I'm not stupid.
37

As a South Seattle resident who lives near light rail, I think what Conlin said makes a whole lot of sense if the intent is to provide affordable housing in Seattle. I have never understood the philosophy that we have the right to expect to live where we work, on such a small scale. I work on the 17th floor of a building downtown with a view of the space needle. I couldn't afford to live right here if I wanted to, unless I rented an apartment the size of my office. I don't have a problem taking the train to South Seattle where I can afford to own a home. Frankly, I prefer it to some North Seattle neighborhoods that would be much more expensive, and I actually save a ton of money taking transit. If a certain neighborhood is becoming "hot" and is able to expand (within reasonable zoning limit increases applied to wider areas rather than specific projects) and attract highly paid residents who will pay high rent and spend lots of money at local businesses rather than skipping off to the nearest suburb, we should welcome the added tax revenue that might help the city build affordable housing where it's affordable to build housing. I wouldn't consider my neighborhood a ghetto, but it is much more affordable than South Lake Union will be. It's not reasonable to take a small section of a city and expect that everyone who works within that boundary, from the corporate executive down to the night security guard who works two jobs, is going to afford an apartment in that neighborhood.
38
Vote Sawant for City Council
39
If SHARE/WHEEL said that there is need for 1,000 shelter beds and that they could provide 500 spaces on cots or 50 spaces on Temperpedic mattresses, which would you choose?

If Union Gospel Mission said that there is need for 1,000 evening meals and that they could feed 500 people a spaghetti dinner or 50 people steak and lobster, which would you choose?

We have tens of thousands of people in Seattle in need of affordable housing. The Washington Tenants Union estimates that 27,000 people in Seattle live in unsafe/substandard living conditions. Why is Conlin wrong for asking how we can maximize the number of people that can be served by our limited public funds?
40
@31, in 1970 Wallingford was a shithole. Really. Fremont was even worse. Actually, the whole city kind of was, what with the near-collapse of Boeing and the thousands of people leaving every year. You could have bought a house in Wallingford for very little indeed, and now it would be worth a million bucks or so. I don't know what the return on investment would be, but the gross dollars would be vastly in favor of the Wallingford buy (or anyplace where the current valuations are highest; houses were DIRT CHEAP everywhere back then, by today's standards, even on Mercer Island).
41
Stick 'em on Capitol Hill. They deserve each other.
42
I think we should be trying to get more young hipsters (i.e., aPodment demographic) to live in the the South End while giving more working people the opportunity to live in affordable housing in SLU, etc.

We should have more of this sort of interchange. The original zoning and planning in Seattle mixed larger houses and smaller houses throughout most neighborhoods. This was not an accident. The goal was to keep people of differing economic strata living in close proximity, so they interact with each other.

To me, this remains a good idea, although the thread of it seems to have been lost at some point after WWII, when red-lining came in hard.

It's the same reason why I think it's a good idea not to concentrate all the homeless shelters in the same neighborhood.

That is why I don't see any contradiction between supporting more regs for aPodments while also thinking that we should be building affordable housing in SLU.

Without more regulation of aPodments, we'll just get a big concentration of them in neighborhoods like Capitol Hill.

If aPodments are limited, perhaps supply and demand will cause more people to look to the south and take a chance on living in Beacon Hill, Columbia City, Othello, etc. (especially after the light rail goes to Capitol Hill and the U-District).

The point of putting light rail down MLK in the South End wasn't to just recreate the same situation that was there before it was built. The stretch of MLK between Rainier and Columbian Way is already a loaded with subsidized housing and non-profits. Aside from St. Dames and a couple of other businesses, most of the commercial space is rented to social service type stuff. Don't get me wrong, that stuff is important, but if MLK is to really achieve some sort of transformational revitalization between Columbian and Othello, this public subsidized sort of development and use needs to be augmented by more market-rate housing (and the sort of retail that will service this sort of housing).

Wasn't thatthe whole point of tearing down Holly Park and attempting to replace it with a mixed income development?
43
@40, no kidding. my family briefly lived in an apartment on Mercer Island when I was a young teen. I remember a front page story in the local newspaper, the Reporter, announcing that the average price paid for a Mercer Island house the year before was a recordbreaking $100,000.
44
I'm poor, but I don't live in South Seattle. Why? Because that's were most of the crime is.
45
Of course Conlin is right. Low income housing anywhere else than down there is just silly! Of course were not going to those people anywhere else than where they belong!
46
Crap. I not crazy about Sawant and wasn't planning on voting for her, but if she's running against this ass hat I guess I don't have much of a choice.
47
This is sad and dangerous. In the early 1990's I chaired the Rainier Valley Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Committee the year we allowed SHA developer Doris Koo to build the first new publicly subsidized housing in Southeast Seattle since a moratorium was established many years earlier. Doris did a beautiful job and the purpose was to leave a calling card in preparation for Hope VI, one of whose goals was mixed-income neighborhoods. There were agreements at that time about better geographic distribution of low-income housing. The reason for the moratorium was that subsidized housing and social services had been dumped in Southeast Seattle at a time when this area of the city also received extremely poor maintenance and few infrastructure upgrades. The entire neighborhood planning process originated from the local CDC's work to document the level of discrimination down to the level of how long it took to replace a streetlight. Southeast Seattle has fought hard for light rail (opposition came later) and for vibrant, diverse, mixed-income neighborhoods. Many will fight tooth and nail to prevent any re-concentration of publicly subsidized low-income housing in Southeast Seattle.
48
They will need a better sewer systems no matter what they do. This is a heck of a lot of toilets to flush and showers.
Seattle's and Rainier Valley areas already stink from the fumes that exit from the sewer line covers.
Didn't an "old' sewer line break by City Hall a few weeks ago.
49
Low income housing units are very hard to get. Many people do not want to pay higher taxes which up until we had a series of Republican Presidents was provided a fair amount of redistribution of wealth. Thirty to forty years ago the federal match was as high as 80% on local projects like public housing.

Even in the best of times Seattle and King County and the State of Washington itself is very restricted on the taxes that can be raised to support public housing.

It seems to me the thought was that the desire of the developers to go higher could be harnessed to provide some additional low income housing.

If the housing was part of the development the cost would result in few units, if it were in other locations it more units could be built.

The concept would a like Cap And Trade in the CO2 reduction strategy.

Those of us concerned about the needs of the poor have spent a lot of time howling at the Moon about the injustices in Seattle's housing policy and we have yet to achieve close to the number of units we need.

There are many places where housing could be developed for a lower unit price than the South of Lake Union (SOLU) area.

An approach that might satisfy the people angry about the city council remarks would be to let the people on the waiting list for public housing vote on the trade between the number of units that could be obtained in the SOLU area and in other locations around the city. They seem to me to be a proper community of experts to get into the discussion about the trade between the social justice of being able to live poor in SOLU and being able to live poor in other parts of the city.