A rendering of a Community Roots Housing project planned for the Northgate area of Seattle near light rail. COURTESY IMAGE, Community Roots Housing

A rendering of a Community Roots Housing project planned for the Northgate area of Seattle near light rail. COURTESY IMAGE, Community Roots Housing

Kent to work with Seattle group to develop middle income housing

Community Roots Housing owns, maintains nearly 50 apartment buildings across Seattle, White Center

Kent city staff will work with Seattle-based Community Roots Housing to develop affordable middle income and multifamily housing in town.

The Kent City Council approved a resolution Sept. 20 to allow Community Roots Housing, a public development authority established by the city of Seattle, to identify sites and build opportunities in Kent.

“This is a great opportunity for the city of Kent,” Council President Bill Boyce said at a Sept. 20 Operations and Public Safety meeting.

The resolution gives Kent Mayor Dana Ralph approval to sign an interlocal agreement with the city of Seattle to allow Community Roots Housing to develop housing in Kent. The city of Seattle and the Board of Directors for Community Roots Housing already passed resolutions to allow work in Kent.

Bill Ellis, city economic development manager, told the council he will work with Community Roots Housing staff to find a site.

“I’m helping find areas for redevelopment,” Ellis said. “There are definitely opportunities in our city.”

Ellis said King County Metro’s RapidRide bus line coming in 2023 to the Kent Valley and East Hill puts more sites in play for an affordable housing complex. Ellis said he couldn’t talk about specific sites at this time due to potential property purchases.

The council heard a presentation from Community Roots Housing at a July 19 workshop. People who will rent the apartments will receive lower rates if they meet certain income levels and depending how many people will live in the unit.

Community Roots Housing was founded in 1976 by Capitol Hill community activists concerned about redlining and disinvestment, according to its website. The group owns and maintains nearly 50 apartment buildings across Seattle and White Center that house more than 2,000 residents.

The Community Roots Housing Foundation is a nonprofit that helps raise funds to support projects by Community Roots Housing. The group works with partners for funding. A recent seven-story Africatown Plaza project in Seattle will tap about $60 million in funding and financing from Africatown, Community Roots, the city of Seattle, King County and other sources, according to The Seattle Times.

Other projects by the group include the Northgate affordable housing complex, a joint development project with BRIDGE Housing in Seattle. It will create 232 affordable apartments next to the Northgate Link Light Rail Station and include a 10,000-square-foot day care on the ground floor.

A existing project is Station House, which features 110 affordable apartments in the heart of the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle and near light rail. It opened in March 2020. A two-bedroom apartment goes for $1,687 a month.

“It’s transit-oriented development,” said Jeremy Wilkening, vice president of real estate development for Community Roots Housing, in a July presentation to the council. “It’s similar to what you are hoping for with transit and affordable housing.”

Liberty Bank Building is another completed project. It provides 115 affordable apartments at 24th and Union in the heart of the Central District. It was a community-led development built on the site of the Liberty Bank. Liberty Bank was the first Black-owned bank in the Pacific Northwest, founded as a community response to redlining and disinvestment in Central Seattle, according to the Community Roots Housing website.

Rents range from $1,017 for a studio to $1,325 for a one-bedroom unit. This building serves households earning 30%, 50%, and 60% of area median income. Who qualifies depends on income and how many people will live in the unit.

Community Roots Housing does brand new construction to acquisition rehab, CEO Chris Persons told the council in July.

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