This week’s news is all about MHA. MHA is the Mandatory Housing Affordability program that’s part of a city-wide rezoning project to increase density while requiring developers who take advantage of the new zoning to contribute to Seattle’s supply of affordable housing either by including units in their development project, or paying an equivalent fee into a city fund to do the same. Reviews of the zoning changes have been going on neighborhood by neighborhood over the last year, with East Lake, Downtown, and the University District already getting easy approval. Things slowed down a bit when the Council began looking at the International District and Central areas.
Related, the draft Environmental Impact Study on different strategies for implementing zoning changes has been released and the public comment period is open on it. Earlier today I attended (the first?) public presentation of the findings, which focused on comparing to different MHA approaches to projections where no MHA programs take effect. One of the strategies focused on a neighborhood’s displacement risk and it’s accessibility to opportunity in making its decisions. While both programs have very similar net effects across the city, the differences at the neighborhood level are stark. If you’d like to get a look at the reports, data, and places for you to leave your official comments (which will be answered in the final report) this is the page for you to watch. I’ll probably be talking about this more as the process continues since this is going to have a huge impact on the local housing market.