Today’s news is all about rents. Curbed Seattle has done their monthly aggregation of the various sites comparing current rents to this time last year. Depending on which site you use (they all have different data sets and methodologies) rents are up anywhere from 5.6%-8.4%. The article also notes that according to Adobo, we’ve fallen out of the top 10 for most expensive cities in the country to rent. Frankly, that’s a ranking chart I’m happy to fall off of. Despite those increases in rent, the highest and fastest growing rents in the area aren’t in Seattle. Bellevue has higher rent, while Tacoma and Kent both have higher increases in rent. The latter are likely an effect of people being priced out of Seattle. The former is just another reminder that Bellevue is the region’s sleeping giant for real estate prices.
In legislative news related to renting, the “Fair Chance Housing Ordinance,” unanimously passed the city council. Designed to help address the city’s homelessness problem by reducing barriers to renting, the ordinance limits how prior convictions and arrests can be used as part of a rental application. The ordinance has many exceptions for small landlords, and focuses primarily on crimes with low recidivism rates.
Last Thursday evening I braved the (not-yet-existent) snow storm to go to the Housing is a Human Right panel hosted at the Seattle Central Library. It had a really good mix of panelists; Sandra McNeill from T.R.U.S.T. South LA, Elena Perian from the Benson East Support Group Board (a community in Kent), Andy Reicher from the Urban Homsteading Asstance Board (based in New York), and Wyking Garrett from the Africatown-Central District Preservation & Development Association (in Seattle). The panel was hosted by Mike O’Brien from the Seattle city Council, and Rebecca Saldaña from Puget Sound Sage.
The discussion gave a really good overview of some of the projects going on in and around Seattle, and putting those in context with approaches finding success in other cities. With Seattle and King County’s huge homelessness problem, and the difficulty in finding affordable housing (to rent or own) in the city, these are issues I’m particularly interested in.
Unsurprisingly, I found Wyking and Elena’s contributions to the panel the most exciting. They both shared stories of successes they’ve had with their work so far, and plans for future projects that seem like excellent options to have in Seattle’s housing development mix. With inventory in the area remaining extremely tight and the natural effects that’s having on the market, it’s great to see efforts targeted toward helping people stay where they are and retain ownership in their communities. Real estate is all about location, location, location, but healthy, strong communities are a lot of what makes a location.
The even capped off a year of discussion on the “housing is a human right” theme and was recorded for a podcast, so if you’re interested, keep an eye out for that. I highly recommend it, whether your interest is in housing, models of property ownership, or development in the Puget Sound region.