OH News

February 2011

From the Acting Director


Welcome to the Office of Housing's first monthly newsletter, a new way to share recent accomplishments, challenges and events. And there will be lots of news to share -- despite the many curve balls thrown by the Great Recession, our affordable housing partnerships remain strong and we're even more committed to doing great work in our community.


Seattle voter support for the Housing Levy in 2009 left us excited about the 66% Yes vote, plus challenged to continue our critically needed work. We have just finished a very productive first full year of the renewed Levy. Ongoing programs continue to exceed goals, and new efforts to respond to the down economy have produced results exceeding our expectations. We look forward to continuing to share highlights of those accomplishments by our very productive partners in 2011.


Last November, Mayor McGinn and the Seattle City Council concluded an extraordinarily difficult, challenging budget process -- easily the worst revenue environment I have witnessed in my years at the City. While OH did suffer cuts, ultimately, the 2011 budget preserves our ability to provide core services. The major impacts for OH are the loss of two positions (IT specialist and a policy/program development manager position) and a 42% reduction in non-personnel operating budget support (e.g., office supplies, travel and training funds). The best news is the office's deputy director position, though still currently vacant, was retained and will provide flexibility to fill in work program coverage where most needed.


All of us in the affordable housing business face difficult budget challenges. OH is hardly alone. I especially want to thank OH's many supporters who during the budget process made calls, sent emails and testified at hearings in support of OH's great work.


Above all, I also want to thank OH staff, who have maintained great morale and high quality work during a challenging 2010. Seattle is very fortunate to have skilled staff who share a deep commitment to the important work of OH.


Here's to 2011 being a year of economic improvement and opportunity!



Rick Hooper, Acting Director

Editor's note
OH awards $23 million for affordable apartments
OH 2010 accomplishments
Homebuyer NOFA
OH job opening
Editor's note



I hope you enjoy this first issue of Home Base, OH's new monthly e-newsletter. It is our goal to include something for everyone in every issue, but it is a work in progress. Besides hot topics and timely announcements, we hope to develop some running features that you can look forward to each month. This likely will include the "Hard Hat Zone" where we'll provide updates on OH-funded projects under construction, plus feature stories about
that illustrate how our work is providing opportunities for people from all walks of life to live in safe, decent affordable housing, while supporting living-wage jobs and improving our neighborhoods.


Now a few requests of you, dear reader. Please share this newsletter with anyone and everyone who you think would be interested in hearing more about OH's work. And, if you have any comments or concerns, story suggestions or announcements, please send me an email.




Julie Moore, editor


OH awards $23 million for affordable apartments

Acting Director Rick Hooper was joined by Deputy Mayor Darryl Smith and Councilmember Nick Licata on Jan. 18 to announce nearly $23 million in capital funding, divvied up amongst eight nonprofit housing developers, to create and preserve affordable apartments. The investment will help create 375 new units for seniors, homeless individuals and low-income working families, plus rehabilitate another 291 apartments currently home to seniors and people with disabilities. 

Awards Announcement
Deputy Mayor Darryl Smith and Councilmember Nick Licata congratulate Housing Resources Group Executive Director Sarah Lewontin on HRG's award.


"Having housing throughout our community that is affordable to people from all walks of life, people with varying economic situations, is what makes our neighborhoods vibrant and inviting," said Deputy Mayor Darryl Smith. "This funding will help hundreds of seniors and people with disabilities remain in their current homes, put roofs over the heads of so many who are currently living on the street, plus provide new opportunities for our hard-working, low- to moderate-wage neighbors."


Most of the funding comes from the Seattle Housing Levy, which was overwhelmingly approved for renewal by 66% of Seattle voters in November 2009.  The awards, the first for rental housing from the seven-year $145 million levy administered by the Office of Housing, are the culmination of a 2010 funding process.


"We really need to recognize the generosity of Seattle voters.  Despite the recession, they voted to continue taxing themselves to ensure that the less fortunate among us, those with the fewest resources, still have access to safe, decent affordable housing," said City Councilmember Nick Licata, chair of the Council's Housing, Human Services, Health & Culture Committee. "This compassion is one of the things that makes Seattle a great place to live."


In this funding round, every dollar contributed by OH will leverage nearly $4 of additional non-city funding.  The funded projects represent an estimated total of almost $110 million in capital that will be a major investment in neighborhoods from North Seattle to Capitol Hill to the Rainier Valley, revitalizing the communities and providing living-wage jobs. 


For more details on each project funded, see the press release at http://www.seattle.gov/news/detail.asp?ID=11381 or watch the press event on Seattle Channel at http://www.seattlechannel.org/videos/video.asp?ID=5191102.

2010 OH Accomplishments -- just the numbers

We'll be releasing a more detailed 2010 OH Report of Accomplishments in the coming months, but we wanted to share a by-the-numbers snapshot of our 2010 achievements.


Weatherization Program

The HomeWise weatherization program helps low- to moderate-income Seattle renters and homeowners by providing free energy-saving measures that help to lower energy consumption, reduce carbon emissions and cut utility costs.


2010 numbers: $6,167,367 spent to weatherize 1,364 apartments and 291 single-family homes


Before & After: Home repair loansHome Repair Loan Program

The Home Repair Loan Program provides zero or low-interest loans to low- to moderate-income homeowners for critically needed home repairs. The program is designed to address immediate health, safety and structural deficiencies.


2010 numbers: $1,184,000 in loans to 57 homeowners


First-time Homebuyer Program

OH provides up to $45,000 per household in downpayment assistance to low- to moderate-income first-time buyers through partnerships with local nonprofits and lending institutions. 


2010 numbers: $4.2 million loaned to help 98 first-time homebuyers


Multifamily Property Tax Exemption Program

The Multifamily Property Tax Exemption (MFTE) Program allows developers to receive a property tax exemption on the residential portion of a development for 12 years if they keep a certain number of the units affordable to moderate-wage workers. This program helps both for profit and nonprofit developers get new projects underway during these tough economic times.


2010 numbers: 18 developments approved for the multifamily tax exemption will create 3,187 new units, 716 of which will be affordable to moderate-income households

Canaday House

Downtown Emergency Service Center's (DESC) Canaday House opened in the Cascade neighborhood in July 2010


Multifamily Rental Housing Program

While market-rate housing construction remained slow, 2010 saw a lot of both new construction and rehabilitation activity for affordable housing funded by OH in previous years. 


2010 numbers: six projects with 317 apartments began construction, while nine projects with 440 apartments were completed


Including the 2010 funding awards (see the story above), our rental housing portfolio has grown to nearly 11,000 units. While OH's Multifamily Lending Team analyzes applications for funding and follows OH-funded projects through construction, OH's Asset Management Team monitors existing projects to ensure City-funded units remain high-quality and livable for current and future tenants. Monitoring includes an annual review of operations. The unit offers technical assistance on sustainable building to promote durable and energy- and water-efficient buildings.

Notice of Funding Availability -- Homebuyer

On Friday, Feb. 4, OH published the first Homebuyer Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) of 2011. The purpose of this program is to assist families and individuals earning at or below 80 percent of area median income to become homeowners. Nonprofit and for profit agencies may apply for funds, which may only be used for homebuyer assistance.


Visit www.seattle.gov/housing/development/HomebuyerNOFA.htm to download the NOFA that provides the criteria regarding applicant and project eligibility, application requirements and project funding. The deadline for applications is noon on Fri., March 11, 2011. For more information or If you are considering an application under this NOFA, please contact Mark Ellerbrook at mark.ellerbrook@seattle.gov or (206) 684-3340, prior to submitting your application.

OH hiring an Asset Management Specialist

The Office of Housing is currently seeking applications for an Asset Management Specialist. This position is assigned to our Asset Management Unit and assists OH in overseeing the performance of OH-funded rental properties. We are looking for a candidate with strong property management and financial experience who can contribute to the long-term viability of our affordable housing portfolio.


For more on the position responsibilities and qualifications, visit www.seattle.gov/jobs, click on Job Openings and scroll down the list to the Asset Management Specialist (Com Dev Spec). The application period closes at 4 p.m. on Tues., March 1, 2011. 

Seattle Office of Housing logo
Home Base is published monthly by the City of Seattle Office of Housing. OH funds affordable workforce housing, both rental and ownership, as well as supportive housing that helps vulnerable people achieve stability and move along a path toward self-sufficiency. Office of Housing initiatives also help stimulate housing development, allowing families to thrive and neighborhoods to provide a full range of housing choice and opportunity. The mission of the Seattle Office of Housing is to build strong healthy communities and increase opportunities for people of all income levels to live in our city.
For more information on our programs, visit our website. If you have questions about this newsletter, please contact Julie Moore via email or at (206) 684-0604.