The Sound Cities Association (SCA) announced its support Tuesday for creating and preserving middle-income affordable housing, with local leaders committing to taking up policy reforms needed to pave the way for more affordable housing in the region.
The announcement marks a vital show of support by local cities to address the “invisible crisis” of a lack of middle-income affordable housing in King County and the Puget Sound region, according to a SCA media release. SCA represents 38 cities, including Kent, and more than a million people in King County.
“SCA believes that healthy, vibrant communities are ones that offer affordable housing options for families and individuals all along the income spectrum. In recent years, the speed of economic and population growth in our region has outpaced the growth in housing supply, creating a shortage of affordable housing—pricing out too many households and threatening the fabric of our community.
We will continue our work to address homelessness and low-income housing and we will also work to address the growing crisis of the lack of affordability of middle-income housing in the area. Too many nurses, teachers, police and other first responders are moving out of the communities they serve to find homes they can reasonably afford. Homelessness continues to rise, and our local workforce is commuting from farther and farther away – worsening congestion and eroding our sense of community.
To address this problem, we intend to do our part to break down barriers and provide incentives to substantially increase the supply of quality housing for all households in our community.”
SCA members agreed to consider policies to advance housing affordability in the region, including increasing density around transit, reducing parking requirements, streamlining permitting, and making public land available for affordable housing.
The announcement is part of a growing public-private effort to address housing affordability in the region. In January, Microsoft committed $500 million to advance regional affordable housing solutions. Later that month, 17 CEOs represented by Challenge Seattle issued a report on the crisis of middle-income housing affordability and the need for a coordinated public- and private-sector response.
“Our board and the elected officials in our cities recognize that affordable housing, including housing that is affordable for middle-income individuals and families, is integral to our mission of creating vital, livable communities,” said SCA Executive Director Deanna Dawson in the media release. “To that end, the SCA Board adopted this statement with great enthusiasm, and with a desire to lead boldly. Our elected officials are hopeful that their leadership on the public sector side will inspire similar bold leadership from the private sector, as they realize that this is a challenge that can be tackled only through public/private partnership.”
Kent Mayor Dana Ralph, who is the SCA vice president, looks forward to what can be accomplished.
“There is a lack of middle-income housing county wide,” Ralph said. “It will take a combination of policy change and capital investment to make a difference. It is great to see leaders from across the county willing to work on this important issue.”
Challenge Seattle CEO Chris Gregoire hailed the announcement as “exciting and unique,” noting that “Challenge Seattle has studied the efforts of regions across the world to address affordable housing. Public policy was identified as the biggest barrier to success, from Sydney to London to Los Angeles. With this bold commitment from our cities in King County, we are confident that we can show the way to successfully address this crisis. This public/private partnership will be key to our success.”
About the Sound Cities Association:
SCA was founded to help cities in King County act locally and partner regionally to create vital, livable communities through advocacy, education, leadership, mutual support and networking. Collectively, the 38 member cities represent over one million constituents in King County. Together the cities are capitalizing on the diversity of our cities to lead policy change to make the Puget Sound region the best in the world. The city of Seattle is not part of Sound Cities.