City of Seattle Roundtable: Tools to Preserve Affordable Private Market Housing

31. May 2016 13:57 by Admin

The City of Seattle is convening a roundtable discussion of multifamily rental property owners to provide advice and feedback on several proposed and existing tools to preserve affordable private market housing. RHA has partnered with the Seattle Office of Housing to engage property owners in this conversation on a toolkit of strategies to preserve existing affordable housing as part of the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA).

HALA, convened by Mayor Murray, is a multi-pronged approach to increase the affordability and availability of housing in Seattle. Part of the HALA road map charges the City with developing a program to preserve existing housing in the private market that is affordable to low-income people. The City Council has also prioritized preservation by creating a new loan program as part of the 2016 Seattle Housing Levy on the August 2 ballot that can help property owners make critical repairs and keep rents affordable. 

Topics to be covered at the roundtable include:

  • New Ideas – Share your ideas to preserve existing affordable housing.
  • Rental Affordability and Rehabilitation Program - Low cost financing to assist with property rehabilitation in exchange for affordable rents.
  • Preservation Tax Exemption - Tax exemption in exchange for reserving 25% of building as affordable to low-income renters.
  • Sale of Property – City financed purchase of privately owned building.
  • Notice of Sale - Required property owner notification to city 60 days before listing, if any unit in the building has a rent affordable to tenants earning 80% of Area Median Income or below (currently required).

Be part of the conversation.

Monday, June 13
4:00 to 6:00 PM
Seattle City Hall, Bertha Knight Landes Room
600 Fourth Avenue

Refreshments will be served.

Please register at: http://bit.ly/PrezTools

Inquiries may be sent to the Seattle Office of Housing at 206.684.0721 or housing@seattle.gov.

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May 2016 13:57

Legislative Update - Cutoff now past

1. March 2016 10:06 by Admin
We now sit with only 10 days left in Washington’s 2016 Legislative Session. With the fiscal committee cutoff Monday, February 29 and the opposite house of origin cutoff on Friday March 4, there is a critically short amount of time for policy bills to finish their journey to become law this year. While proponents of legislation still being considered are working feverishly to pass their bills, most of the attention in Olympia is now focused on the Supplemental Budget. This year the House introduced their version of the budget first. The House Supplemental Budget increases the 2015-17 general fund spending by $478.4 million. Major items include $99.0 million for recruiting and retaining teachers, a tax increase of $123.8 million and an appropriation of nearly half a billion dollars from the Budget Stabilization Account (also known as the rainy day fund) for the homeless and to help fight forest fires.
 
Senate Republicans claim that the House budget relies heavily on hypothetical tax increases, which House Democrats refuse to vote on. The Senate, led by Republicans, also opposes withdrawing such a large amount from the “rainy day fund” and favor waiting for next year’s budget debate to address the teacher shortage rather than pursuing a short-term solution during this supplemental budget year. The Senate’s Supplemental Budget would increase general fund spending for 2015-17 by $33.6 million. Priorities include new classroom funding, mental-health and replenishing the Model Toxics Control Act account, and $6.6 million for charter schools out of the Washington Opportunity Pathways Account.
 
In Transportation, reducing the I-405 congestion is a major priority for both the House and Senate budgets. Both bills fund an expansion of the auxiliary land from SR-520 to NE 70th Street and a northbound I-405 hard running shoulder from SR 527 to I-5. These projects were also in Governor Inslee’s recommendations to the legislature.
 
Last Thursday, a possible alternative to Carbon Washington’s Initiative 732 was sent out to legislators. The alternative carbon tax proposal, commonly known as “732 B”, differs from the original I-732 in several key ways:
• A lower carbon tax, starting at $8 in 2017 and gradually going up to $35 by 2035.
• Contains a phase in for natural gas, allowing for an untaxed transition period.
• Does not apply to coal-fired power that is being phased out of use.
• Assumes that unspecified power is natural gas, therefore, exempting it for the same transition period.
• Offers “Alternative Compliance Agreements” for energy intensive trade exposed businesses.
 
After the dissemination of the 732B draft, the Department of Ecology announced a redacting of its Clean Air Rule, an agency email stated: “Some of the updates and refinements now being considered for the draft rule are significant enough that we have withdrawn the proposed rule. This is an opportunity for us to continue working with stakeholders and will allow more time to integrate suggestions before holding public hearings.” The rule resulted from a directive from Governor Inslee. In Housing, the preservation tax exemption bill, 2SSB 6239, has been amended by House Democrats to only include property tax exemptions for nonprofits if they agree to make their units affordable. The bill initially offered property tax exemptions to all owners if they agreed to make 25% of their units for fifteen years. Seattle politicians are working with House Democrats to, hopefully bring the bill back to its original, agreed upon design. As a controversial bill, with potential fiscal impacts to local governments, the legislation will stay alive until the last day of session.
 
In other legislative news, The Voting Rights Act was amended and may finally be viable for passage by the Senate after stalling for the past two years. The final passage of Senate Bill 6195, which was the first bill signed by the Governor this session on Monday, officially kicks the can down the road for complying with the State Supreme Court’s McCleary decision on school funding. Last Thursday, a huge rally on charter school funding took place at the capitol in response to the House’s refusal to vote on Senator Steve Litzow’s, R-Mercer Island, bill to fund charters out of the Opportunity Pathways Account. Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos’, D-Seattle, has HB 1541, addressing the opportunity gap between students of different racial and ethnic backgrounds is making its way through the Senate.

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March 2016 10:06

Olympia Legislative Update - Week 6

23. February 2016 12:18 by Admin
Last week saw the house of Origin Cutoff deadline narrow the amount of bills still alive for consideration by this year’s legislature. The vast majority of “good ideas” are now “dead”, as legislators turn their focus towards a narrow group of remaining bills and the budget process.

While most of the week was spent in the chambers, caucusing and voting on bills, Legislators still found time to have a few controversial public hearings on policy bills. Senator Steve Litzow continues to pursue funding for charter schools with his bill (SB 6194) which would call for an appropriation of roughly $18 million out of the general fund. The bill now waits executive action in the House Education Committee, after a very well attended public hearing last Friday.

Alongside charter schools, lawmakers continue to posture over the McCleary decision. SB 6195, which pushes the legislatures deadline on the levy issue out until the end of 2017, is headed towards the Governor’s desk for signature. While the bill was hardly a bipartisan document, most in Olympia believe that it does not accomplish enough of the difficult work the Legislature most due to solve our state’s education funding shortfall, with prominent lawmakers using the work, “punt”, to describe the legislation.

Both the Senate and House had continued to hold hearings on I-732, the state’s chief carbon initiative. While there have been a dizzying amount of carbon reduction plans offered over the last two years, many in the business and environmental world seem to be coalescing around an amended version of I-732 (732B) which would create a carbon tax on certain sectors while balancing the burdensome impacts to many important businesses in the state. The Governor continues to pursue his own carbon rule, through state department action, in the face of the federal rules being held up this year by the courts.

This upcoming week many will be interested in the Senate’s treatment of the Washington Voting Rights Act, which would establish an administrative process to deal with potentially prejudicial local government voting districts. The bill was born out of a lawsuit brought on the city of Yakima, which was very costly to the city. While democrats generally support the legislation, many republicans were upset to learn that Yakima did no posses the authority to amend their voting districts without a court order, and would prefer legislation empowering cities to amend their districts, rather than setting out a complex administrative process to address potential grievances by the public.

In housing, media continues to focus on SB 6239, which would create a voluntary affordable housing property tax exemption. The bill is the only one of several proposals still alive after the cutoff, and many lawmakers and pundits on both sides of the isle are interested in promoting the legislation as, “reasonable progress” on the state’s housing problems. As part of the Seattle mayor’s HALA process, the legislation being closely monitored by those interested in further housing policies in the city, like rent control.

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February 2016 12:18