Only way out of housing supply crisis is up

The following is commentary from our policy staff.

Seattle and the surrounding areas do not have enough housing for all the people that live here. The homes and condos that we do have are too expensive for many that want to fulfill the dream of homeownership.

The Seattle Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda, better known as HALA, is trying to change that. The goal of the initiative is to produce 20,000 affordable homes and 30,000 market-rate homes over the next ten years. How? By building up.

The upzones proposed by HALA primarily apply to land that is already zoned for commercial or multi-family use in urban villages and surrounding neighborhoods (think North Beacon Hill, not the sidewalks of Magnolia). Typically, these areas would be allowed an additional story or two of height, which would increase capacity for both rental and ownership residential units, like condos. Very few single-family zones would be affected.

This additional zoning capacity doesn’t come free to developers. One of HALA’s key policies is Mandatory Housing Affordability, or MHA. To ensure that all this growth brings affordable places to live with it, MHA requires developers of each new commercial and multi-family residential development to either:

  • Include affordable housing as part of their development, or
  • Make a payment to support affordable housing in Seattle.

HALA and MHA are critical in addressing our housing shortage. Seattle King County REALTORS® will continue to encourage HALA upzones to promote the creation of new housing and ease the impacts of the housing supply crisis. Read more on zoning in this excellent column from The Seattle Times and get more information on zoning and affordability at

The next public meeting to talk about MHA is a Lunch and Learn event on June 15 at City Hall in Seattle. Learn more.