Outrage at Seattle Housing Authority's Rent Hike Plan

Comments

1
Thank you SO MUCH for covering this.
3
How can folks who want to help put meaningful pressure on SHA, Ansel? Any suggestions?
4
And who represents the interests of the tens of thousands of equally deserving low income folks languishing on the waiting list while these protestors cling to their right to stay in heavily subsidized housing forever? What seems progressive is actually the worst sort of "I've got mine, Jack"
5
@2 A lot of people are, right now. I won't attempt to speak to the specific plight of those living in SHA subsidized housing, but generally speaking there are a lot of factors in play. The farther out from the city you move, communities become progressively less walkable, have less public transportation, fewer and less capable social services, and in plenty of cases fewer jobs.
6
But, the people running this program (I would would bet money) are good hearted liberal folks…who are most definitely not making any sort of personal gain from raising rents. It appears the rents are being upped to encourage a quicker cycling of tenants so that the newest (and probably most vulnerable) have a place to stay when they land on our shores. I doubt this was ever intended for permanent housing, and if you give "tenure" to the current residents, where do the new desperately poor immigrants go? The really cheap rent definitely does not encourage a quick turnover, so I see the Authority's logic in a graduated rent increase.
7
@2:

My guess would be because they can't afford market-rate rents in Tukwila, or Federal Way, or Chehalis, or - Hell, Yakima or Moses Lake or the Tri-Cities for that matter. And how many small towns outside of Seattle/Tacoma even HAVE HUD-sponsored low-income housing? And if the idea is to theoretically get people employed so they can earn enough to afford at-market rent - what's the unemployment rate for low-skill, low-paying jobs in any of those places? Certainly not any BETTER than here, and except for very sparsely-populated areas, such as the SE corner and N. Central Cascades, it's a lot WORSE.
8
@7. HUD subsidized housing exists in Bremerton, Moses Lake, Soap Lake, Port Angeles, Kitsap County, Mt. Vernon. Need I go on?
9
What I don't understand is why public housing is overrun with Muslims from the most misogynistic and backward countries in the world--the ones that insist their women cover themselves in black robes and submit to having their husbands take other wives (and yes, I see you in Costco--that's not your daughter--that's your #1 wife and your #2) and our own hardworking citizens are living in their damn CARS under freeway overpasses because public housing is not available.

Not only should we refuse rent hikes, we should insist that US citizens have priority, and non-citizens get housing as available after citizens are housed.
10
That's a fairly dramatic increase in a short time, but I agree with 4 and 6 - there is a long line of folks waiting to get in who should not be shut out by legacy people raising generations there. I don't want to push people out of their homes, but it's a tough question - do we provide decades of housing for few or years of housing for many?
12
learning that it was sununu's stupid idea and sequestration cuts are forcing SHA to enact this policy changes my mind. somewhat. there's a certain simplistic appeal to GOP ideas that tramples the reality of modern poverty.

lots of these folks simply don't have the ability to earn market rent incomes in the US, and never will - somali mothers of 7, for instance. i don't think this policy expects them to work full time. i sure don't.

we need so many types of new social housing it's fucking embarrassing. as long as the GOP controls any branch of govt, it ain't fucking happening.
14
@12

I think I'm OK with the idea of paying more tax so that people who don't work can have free housing, food, and clothing, but I might be a bit outside majority opinion there.

I do know for a fact that the last time welfare was cut at the national level, it was with the help of a lot of rather nasty campaign messaging about awarding more benefits to poor black women for having more children.
15
This is one of the very visible signs of the end of public housing. Reagan started the slide during his first administration, and nationally we're pretty near the end. Yelling at SHA and other agencies won't really help, but at the very least, we can expect them to be honest about what they're doing. What they're NOT going to do is find jobs for the people whose rent will be raised (and neither will WorkSource, who will have that particular responsibility). What they WILL do is turn public housing into middle-income housing. It's obvious where people who can't afford that will go: directly into homelessness.

Complain to the City Council. The only sayso they have over SHA is appointing the Commissioners (who will make the final decision, as SHA officials have said), but at the very least, the Council could apologize to the community for allowing SHA to run their show without any real research on the part of the Council for many years.
16
@2: speaking for myself, because Seattle is where the jobs are. Sure, I could move to Moses Lake or Enumclaw, but then what? Live on the public dole or maybe score a job flipping burgers?

Jean Harris' testimony shows part of the problem. There's families who've been living in Yesler Terrace and other SHA projects for generations, paying $160/mo for a 2 bedroom. Meanwhile other people, with just as serious of a need, are permanently waitlisted, stuck in market-rate housing, paying $1000/mo for the cheapest, slummiest 2bd in the city.

SHA's plan may not be the right plan, but something has to happen. The current SHA doesn't work for anyone whose parents didn't get them in.
17
@2: IKR? Why don't these people just up and move to any number of dying logging towns in east Lewis county? Rents are totally cheap!
19

#16

What jobs exactly are only located in Seattle?

21
#15

Here's the game plan:

-Raise minimum wage
-Raise prices to fund wage
-Raise housing cost to sop up wage increase

Income from low wage earners goes direct to bureaucrats and landlords.

Money from price increase comes from middle class.

In effect, it's a tax increase on the middle class who buy their lunch in Seattle.
22
The council's (King County Workforce Development Council, which runs the employment assistance program Worksource) president , Marléna Sessions, got up and assured everyone that thousands more jobs will be added to the local economy. "It's a great time in our local labor market," she said.

Hmmm....Microsoft just laid off 747 local employees?

Boeing is doing everything possible to continue to offshore as many jobs as possible.

The typical high-tech company which comes into existence in Seattle is typically a shell company, with the majority of its employees or contractors offshore.

The preponderance of new jobs are filled with foreign visa (scab) workers.

Although I has been good for union construction workers recently, those will be short-term jobs.
23
@22 these don't look like Boeing and Microsoft material.

Unemployment in Seattle is 4.5%. Easy to find a job. It's a seller's market but only if you make the effort.
25
@8:

Okay, granted. But, I wouldn't be surprised if Bremerton & Moses Lake also have a large subset of military personnel competing for those subsidized units, while Kittitas County is probably also primarily on reservation land. Plus, how many units are we talking about? Certainly nothing even remotely compared to Seattle/Tacoma, yes? And what about the turnover rate? If it's just as low as here, then it's really not an option to suggest poor people move away and go somewhere their prospects aren't going to change. And again, there's the whole employment issue. In the end, it doesn't really matter where we send them, if they're just going to face the same issues of low availability and lack of work opportunities, does it?
27
There are gzillion multi-units condo & apartment complexes being built around town (hello Ballard!). Require that they set aside 25% for rent control/low income housing. Also all new housing development need to pay impact fees for schools/roads/pollution/public transportation.
28
so can someone clarify this for me....the rent only goes up for those living in the units over a period of time. When a new family moves in, the rate for a 1 bedroom will go back to 140, and the process starts over. Right?
29
@28 yes, it starts over.
30
@28. Yes, it starts over at the year 1 rent
31
OK, that sounds perfectly reasonable.
32
Before I read headline and had only seen photo, I thought this was a story about some demonstration in Mogadishu. Honestly.

Are East Africans really that overrepresented in SHA housing? Strange and disturbing if true.
33
Why doesn't SHA charge rent according to a percentage of the tenant's income? People on disability and seniors will be grandfathered in on that basis.
36
@35 that was 2000 + years ago.
37
Thank you, Ansel Herz, for reporting this.

@33 keshmeshi: What a brilliant idea! I know that would help a lot of Seattleites.
38
@19 No jobs "only" exist in Seattle. Yet it is easier to find all jobs, from high-tech to medical to the lowliest retail work, in Seattle. As the state Employment Security Department reports every month, Seattle's unemployment rate is consistently 2-3% lower than the rest of the state. It's one of the only places in the state that unemployment is under the magic 5% "full employment" mark. And (spoiler alert) the other regions that match our unemployment have just as high (or higher) housing costs.
39
@33, that's what SHA has been doing. The point now is that they will no longer do income-based rents. The rents will be what they will be, regardless of peoples' income.

Seniors (over 61) and the disabled will stay as they are; they're exempted from this proposal.
40
@15: I find it difficult to understand why you're spitting in the face of WorkSource. What possible basis do you have for claiming that they are unable to find people jobs?

@33: SHA charges 30% of income for rent. What they're saying now is, unless you are elderly or disabled, they are going to presume that within 6 years, with assistance from WorkForce, you will be able to earn minimum wage, which would enable you to pay $850 per month for a 2-bedroom apartment. If you don't get a job, then they will free up your unit for someone who is interested in moving toward employment rather than insisting that they have a right to housing without working, while thousands languish on the waiting list.
41
As someone who works in the field of low-income housing here in Seattle I can assure you that there are not ten thousand homeless people on SHA's waiting list. While I don't deny there are many who need housing, SHA has greatly exaggerated this number to gain sympathy for the proposal. Many of the people who apply are already in a subsidized housing program but apply when the Section 8 lottery opens because they appreciate the flexibility and autonomy of the voucher program. Moreover often multiple members from the same family will often apply separately to increase there chances. This doesn't even include that often more then half who apply aren't even eligible and many are applying from out of state with no intention of following through.
You might want to ask SHA about how it is struggling to utilize all of it's vouchers because the payment standard is not realistic for the city of Seattle.
We need more affordable housing in Seattle, but don't let SHA fool you into believing this proposal is for the good of the community. It's about money plain and simple.
42
>He challenged Lofton and the other SHA employees: Learn Somali or Chinese in the next year—then we'll believe you. That got a huge round of whooping applause from the crowd.

Seriously?
43
Squat.
44
Anybody know where the Tenants' Union of Washington State and the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance's stand on squatting is? --- http://www.tenantsunion.org & http://www.wliha.org .
45
I work with an architecture firm than specializes in public housing. I've been inside and inspected every inch of over 500 units. In my experience, the majority of tenants live outside of their means; hell, outside of my means. New cars in the driveway, large new flat screens and leather couch sets in the living room, tons of junk / fast food in the kitchen. And that's not an outlier - it's highly common. The outliers range from a single lady with no kids living in a very well furnished 3 bedroom house and running a business (with a posted business license) out of a bedroom, to incredibly Spartan living with just a mattress on the floor, beat up couch and 3 outfits in the closet.

The common thread (besides single mothers) is that what most of these people need are financial guidance. I would love to see a welfare system that paired a person of need with a financial advisor / social worker / accountant and provide them with 5 years of assistance with the goal of achieving a personal 5 year financial plan. Higher education or job training, saving for a mortgage, getting back on your feet from a bad situation, putting your child through college, etc. But make it clear to them - after 5 years, you will be released, and a new family will begin getting that assistance. With an exception of course for the elderly. Like one of the residents said in the above article, they were born into public housing and plan to die in it. Once a lot of these people realize they will be subsidized for life, they don't plan responsibly. And that not only hurts themselves and the taxpayers, but the other needy families who are on the infinite waitlist.
46
@45: "Like one of the residents said in the above article, they were born into public housing and plan to die in it."

No one said this.
47
Thank you for covering this, had no idea this is going on. My elderly mother lives in SHA and has for about 7 years. She has very little income (all income donated by myself besides food benefits) and her rent is based of off a percentage her income, rent is 30% of your income for SHA residents. If this was to come into effect it could put her out on the street so to speak as the suggested rent is more than twice of what she lives off a month.
@45 NOT ALL PUBLIC HOUSING RESIDENTS LIVE BEYOND THEIR MEANS...She essentially lives off of about $500 a month between my assistance and food assistance. Your observations indicate that there needs to be a better review process of the tenants and also I agree that it would be great to have more social workers available to help the people who CAN get out of public housing on the right path.
@2 Public Housing is needed everywhere, including our city, it helps keep us diverse which is one of the most wonderful things about living in a city.

I'm thankful and have been for years for the SHA program. Without them I wouldn't be able to keep my mother living independently but still near me so that I am able to assist her whenever she needs. I wish I could have attended this meeting to represent the LITTLE OLD LADIES that live in the housing.
48
Also, at the time that I helped my mother get into public housing we applied for ALL of the housing program in the areas around Seattle. SHA was the quickest to take her and that was with a year and a half wait.
49
I wish I had been at one of the meetings. BUT... I e-mailed the SHA, asking a couple of pertinent questions.

"Who are the people making these critical decisions, concerning who can, and who cannot work? Is it a organization, doctors or business professionals?"

"What happens to the people who; upon waiting for their SSI to start, or to be decided in court?"

No answer. I am not surprised. Thank your new neighbors "amazon, and google" and their cloned employees buying up the garbage their being sold. Idiots are flocking to lake union like its beach front property. You can't even swim, or eat the fish from the lake...TOXIC! HA! So are the people! You can tell just by looking at them; all pale and stuck walking around buying up the foo foo sh$t.

"Oh, did I just describe a white person?" Oops? HA! NOT!

They even got cute little shuttle's , to shuttle the little boogers around! HOW "NEAT"

Dig into the SHA, and you will find a crook, or ten thousand, bet you!

Or I ain't a proud Mexican! Oh excuse me... Or I am not, a proud Latino, ummm, Hispanic?

Ah hell, let the google clones decide.

Viva Paulo Freire! Show them a picture Paulo, and a google clone turns to green slime!

Every one arm your selves with pictures of Paulo!
50
I'm outraged that I have to pay for these leeches. I don't have children that I cannot afford. I would never in a million years expect others to pay for my irresponsibility. If it's your religion that mandates no birth control, let the religious leaders pay for it. I'm tired of making all the right decisions, working hard, going into significant debt to get my education and delaying children because I wouldn't want them to be born into an environment where I am not financially stable. Yet- I get to support everyone else who lives by different standards. Lucky me.