OUR WORK: MIDDLE-INCOME HOUSING AFFORDABILITY
"It is time for action. If we all work together, the future we imagine is within our reach."
- Chris Gregoire, CEO of Challenge Seattle
THE INVISIBLE CRISIS
The high cost of housing in the greater Seattle region has reached crisis level, threatening our quality of life, economic vitality, and the future of our community. Challenge Seattle, led by the CEOs of 17 of the region’s leading businesses and philanthropies, has committed to rising to the occasion. Through our Call to Action, we raise awareness of a growing, and often invisible, aspect of the housing affordability crisis: the lack of affordable housing for middle-income residents. We lay out the problem and why it matters, and we recommend a set of public- and private-sector actions that can address the current market gap in affordable homes. We pledge to lend our voice, our data, our expertise, and our resources to the effort.
We invite you to join us.
Year by year, middle-income residents are being priced out of more and more communities. In the last decade, home prices have risen nearly 60%, three times the national growth rate. Housing prices are seven times the median income in King County, and nearly 40% of middle-income households find themselves cost burdened by housing. Today, a middle-income household can no longer afford to rent, let alone buy, a home in most of the county's zip codes.
WHY THIS MATTERS
Our community fabric is unraveling. Teachers, nurses, utility workers, police officers and others are moving out of the communities they serve, with far-ranging impacts, from longer emergency-response times to fewer hours spent after school with students. Traffic congestion is now among the worst in the nation as more and more workers can't afford homes close to job centers.
We must build more housing at the right price, of the right size, in the right locations. In this segment of the market, however, the economics of market-rate development don't pencil and few public financing tools are available. If we want to provide more options for middle-income households, it will take new sources of capital and land from the private sector, smart policy changes and public investments, and a community willing to embrace change and make room for new neighbors.
We lay out 15 recommendations that, if deployed in concert, can materially move the needle on housing affordability in our region.
CALL TO ACTION
Collectively, we have the tools and capabilities to address the middle-income affordability crisis. But it will take all of us. In our research of cities around the world, we found that success requires everyone doing their part -- the public sector, the private sector, and the community each have an important role to play and each must play that role.
Challenge Seattle is committed to action. We will lend our voice, data, expertise, and resources. We will encourage investment, and we will support the public-private partnership needed for success. If we all work together, we can ensure the future vitality of our region for generations to come.