Seattle Should Take Bold Steps to Increase Housing Supply

This past fall, the Mayor convened the Housing Affordability and Livability Advisory committee (HALA).  The committee has been tasked with developing housing recommendations for everything from homelessness on up through market-rate housing. REALTOR® Terry Miller is participating on a HALA subcommittee task with developing strategies to preserve housing, and President Tyler McKenzie is urging Seattle to take bold steps to increase housing inventory.

Tyler McKenzie, President of the Seattle King County REALTORS®, sent a letter to the HALA committee explaining the severe shortage of single-family housing inventory in Seattle and the impact of restricted supply on prices. Mr. McKenzie cautioned that diminished supply is of greatest concern at the lower economic end, where people literally do not have or cannot find affordable shelter.

Seattle King County REALTORS® is working to explain to policy makers that Seattle needs a housing strategy that recognizes the housing market is a continuum that is interrelated.  Greater housing options in one segment help the pricing equation in other segments. Fewer housing options hurt affordability everywhere. When the demand for housing outstrips supply, the market begins to shut people out. What’s needed are more housing units – and a second look at strategies to render assistance to those unable to afford market rate housing.

The Association has recommended these solutions to the housing supply and affordability crises:

  1. Increase zoned density significantly around transit stations and transit corridors.
  2. Increase the housing levy and drive greater unit yield form each levy dollar invested.
  3. Use surplus public property for housing.
  4. Ensure incentives like the multifamily housing tax exemption are compelling enough to deliver units.
  5. Recognize that strategies relying solely on subsidies will not yield the supply needed to create affordability.

HALA will make recommendations to the Mayor in the Spring.