OH News

March 2011

From the Acting Director


Several days ago Mayor McGinn asked me to become permanent director of Seattle's Office of Housing -- I enthusiastically said Yes. It is an honor to be asked to continue in the OH director position facing both exciting and challenging times ahead.

Serving as acting director for the last year has both reminded and taught me even more about how much our community cares about helping people who need affordable housing. I am committed to helping OH focus on the strategic affordable housing priorities adopted by City Council, and working with our nonprofit, for-profit and other public agency partners to leverage and utilize resources to address a growing need.

It has been a privilege to work with the very caring and dedicated staff at OH. During the last year we have laid the groundwork for many new initiatives and strategies that have the potential to accomplish even more. I look forward as permanent director to continue progressing on those initiatives and strategies that the Mayor and City Council care about, including:


  • permanent housing for people who are homeless
  • housing for vulnerable seniors
  • workforce housing near transit
  • stable family housing so kids can learn and be successful in school
  • housing for people with disabilities


My door is always open, as I believe our best accomplishments come out of a collaboration with many partners. Please let me know if you have ideas, questions, thoughts or suggestions for addressing Seattle's many affordable housing issues: (206) 684-0338, or email at rick.hooper@seattle.gov.



Rick Hooper, Acting Director

2011 Multifamily Funding Round
Housing Levy A&F Plan Update
Client Success Story: Energy Efficiency through Weatherization
Encouraging Economic Opportunities for Low-Income Workers and Businesses
Hard Hat Zone - Brettler Family Place
MFTE Program Renewed by City Council
Upcoming Events
2011 Multifamily Funding Round

NOFAThe Office of Housing's Multifamily Lending Program is considering options for the timing and structure of its 2011 funding round and would like your feedback (see specific opportunities below).


In 2011, OH will publish the availability of roughly $20 million for multifamily rental housing development. Based on early information, OH estimates that this amount will provide the ability to fund approximately eight projects. We have already identified more than $40 million in possible requests to the City, representing $90 million in total requests for public funding for affordable housing development likely to be submitted to the City, King County and Washington state.


Leverage continues to be a critical factor in allocating OH funds. The State Housing Trust Fund represents a potential important leverage piece. Governor Gregoire's budget has $40.8 million dedicated to housing, so although the trust fund is in jeopardy, advocates remain optimistic. OH is committed to continued alignment with the state Department of Commerce to the greatest degree possible. Commerce plans to issue a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) as soon as there is a clear message from the legislature as to the amount of the Housing Trust Fund. Our estimates to align with this timeline are as follows:


Proposed 2011 Funding Round

Pre-applications: March-April

NOFA issued: May

Applications due: July 29

Announcements: October


We are working closely with King County and understand that they too are considering adopting the above timeline.


In addition, HUD has issued a NOFA for Section 202 program funding with applications due June 1. This could be a critical leverage source for City funds. OH is conducting research on prospective applications to HUD for this funding and is considering holding an expedited review process for these projects.


feedbackWe'd like to hear from you:

  •  If you are considering making application to OH in 2011 and have not submitted a state Stage 1 application for your project, please notify us at your earliest opportunity.
  • OH will hold a meeting for prospective 2011 applicants for multifamily funding on Friday, March 25 at 12:30 p.m. in the Washington State Housing Finance Commission Board Room, 1000 2nd Ave., 28th floor. (Note this meeting precedes a stakeholder meeting on the 2012-2013 Levy Administrative and Financial Plan.) If you are considering making an application this year, please plan to attend this meeting to offer your input on timing and structure. A decision regarding the 2011 funding round will be made shortly thereafter and announced publicly.
  • To declare your interest in applying, schedule a pre-application meeting, or to provide feedback on the structure and timing of the funding round, please contact Debbie Thiele, OH's Multifamily Lending Manager, at debbie.thiele@seattle.gov.
Housing Levy Administrative & Financial Plan Update Process Beginning

LevyDistribution of Seattle Housing Levy funds is guided by an Administrative & Financial (A&F) Plan, and although the current plan is in effect until the end of 2011, it is already time to begin the process of updating it. The updated plan, expected to be adopted by City Council early this summer, will guide use of levy funds for 2012-2013.Seattle Housing Levy logo


Opportunities for Community Input

The updated A&F Plan will contain a new section with policies for the Rental Assistance Program, which is administered by the Seattle Human Services Department (HSD). In 2010 and 2011, federal stimulus funds supported this program. Beginning in 2012, Housing Levy dollars will fund rental assistance. HSD staff have been working with program participants and the larger community to evaluate the current program and prepare levy policies. For more information, contact Judy Summerfield with HSD at judy.summerfield@seattle.gov.


OH is now reviewing the A&F Plan policies for the other Levy programs and is seeking public comment. We will discuss the Rental Housing Production & Preservation Program at a community meeting on Friday, March 25, from 1:30-3 p.m. (immediately following the discussion of the 2011 NOFA schedule; see article above), at the Washington State Housing Finance Commission, 1000 Second Ave., 28th floor. To receive materials in advance, please RSVP to judy.habben@seattle.gov.


Mark Ellerbrook, Homeownership Program Manager, held a meeting with stakeholders on March 10 to discuss the Levy A&F Plan policies for the Homebuyer Assistance Program. If you could not attend or if you would like to make comments on the A&F Plan policies for this program, please contact Mark at mark.ellerbrook@seattle.gov.


Legislative Schedule

Following these community meetings, OH and HSD staff will prepare recommended A&F Plan amendments for review by the Housing Levy Oversight Committee and the Mayor. We expect the City Council's Housing, Human Services, Health and Culture Committee to review the proposed legislation in June.

Energy Efficiency through Weatherization:
HomeWise Delivers Savings...and Comfort

Built in 1949, Kathy and Craig's home was no longer doing its part to keep out the cold when temperatures dropped. Windows did not close properly, doors were drafty and the uninsulated part of the kitchen blasted cold air into the main living areas of the house. Their 60-year-old oil furnace was neither effective at heating the home, nor efficient in terms of the fuel cost.


"In previous winters, drafts and radiating cold made certain areas of the house practically uninhabitable," said Kathy. "I often wore a coat or down vest inside the house throughout the winter, much to the amusement of friends."


Blower Door Test

HomeWise Property Rehab

Specialist Esref Marusic conducts

a "blower door" test to check 

for drafts in the home. 

The couple contacted the Office of Housing's HomeWise Program in May 2010, looking for help making their home more comfortable and energy efficient. HomeWise Property Rehab Specialist Esref Marusic inspected their home and recommended many measures that would improve the energy efficiency and safety of the home. 


Over the next few months, private contractors performed the prescribed work, including:  replacing the 60-year-old oil furnace with a new gas furnace; replacing infested and deteriorated attic insulation; replacing two windows and a broken sliding glass door; weatherstripping of doors; insulating walls; insulating water tank pipes; replacing and re-venting bathroom exhaust fans; venting the kitchen range hood; re-venting the clothes dryer; insulating a living space in the garage and sealing the garage door. And as all HomeWise clients do, Kathy and Craig received compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs and carbon monoxide monitors for their home. The federal American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, as well as other local, state and federal grants, provided all necessary funding for this project.


"My husband and I have been amazed at how well the house holds heat now. Warming it up in the morning for a short time will keep it warm for many hours," Kathy shared. "The furnace is not only more efficient in terms of using the fuel more completely, but mechanically it beats our 60-year-old furnace in terms of delivering the heat effectively throughout the house. When the gas bill comes, even though the house is warmer and more comfortable throughout the day and evening, the bill is a fraction of what it used to be."


In addition to the weatherization services provided free to Kathy and Craig, they also qualified for the Office of Housing's Home Repair Loan Program. This program provides zero to low-interest loans to qualifying households, and often works in tandem with HomeWise to make necessary life and safety repairs that aren't eligible for weatherization funds. So far, the home repair loan has allowed them to replace their roof, which has leaked for two years, as well as make electrical repairs.


To learn more about the Office of Housing's HomeWise Weatherization Program, visit www.seattle.gov/housing/homewise or call (206) 684-0244. To learn more about the Home Repair Loan Program, visit www.seattle.gov/housing/buying/repair_loans.htm or call (206) 684-0458.

SHA, SEED and CHS: Encouraging Economic Opportunities for Low-Income Workers and Businesses

Bakhita Gardens

Catholic Housing Services followed HUD's Section 3 guidelines for construction of Bakhita Gardens in Belltown.

In the past year, OH has placed an increased emphasis on Section 3, a longstanding requirement on HUD-funded projects that is intended to encourage economic opportunities for low-income workers and businesses. Several developers, including the Seattle Housing Authority, SEED and Catholic Housing Services, were particularly successful in working with their contractors to achieve positive hiring and subcontracting outcomes under Section 3. Last year, projects developed by these organizations resulted in the hiring of 32 low-income workers and the subcontracting of over $4.4 million to low-income businesses. OH would like to congratulate these organizations for their efforts to use affordable housing development to provide economic opportunities for low-income individuals and businesses.


OH's updated Section 3 guidelines, forms and resources are available at www.seattle.gov/housing/development/construction.htm.

Hard Hat Zone logo 

Welcome to the Hard Hat Zone, where we provide updates on the construction of affordable housing developments that receive Office of Housing funding. This month we're highlighting Brettler Family Place, Solid Ground's latest permanent affordable housing development for formerly homeless families at Sand Point.


Brettler Family Place

On April 7, Solid Ground will be celebrating the grand opening of Brettler Family Place and the official naming of the Lowry Community Center. Speakers will include Solid Ground Executive Director Cheryl Cobbs, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, Speaker of the House Frank Chopp, Rep. Phyllis Gutierrez Kenney, David Bley of the Gates Foundation, and Dan Brettler, CEO of Car Toys and co-chair of the governing board of the Committee to End Homelessness in King County.


Brettler Family Place, located on the former Sand Point Naval Base in Magnuson Park,

Brettler Family Place

Brettler Family Place, with Magnuson Park playfields and Lake Washington in the background

will be the new home to 51 formerly homeless families. It is well served by transit and close to many amenities, including playfields, Lake Washington, excellent local schools, shopping and medical/dental care for families. The units are designed specifically for families, with 32 two-bedrooms, 14 three-bedrooms and 5 four-bedrooms. All units are restricted to families earning up to 30% AMI (about $20,600 for a two-person household, $25,700 for a four-person household). Support services and access to resources will be provided as needed by a team of onsite case managers. The program will emphasize employment/education growth and children's services to increase family stability and self-sufficiency.


Homeless families in Seattle and King County face a wide array of barriers to finding affordable housing including the lack of affordable housing options, lack of sufficient income to afford the housing that does exist, inability to secure a family-wage job, inability to afford child care, a history of domestic violence, mental illness, disabilities and a history of chemical dependency. Lack of affordable housing options makes it difficult for families to provide a stable environment for their children so they have a chance to thrive in school and in their communities. In order to afford the average rent of a two-bedroom apartment in King County, a single parent with two children working 40 hours per week at the current minimum wage would have to use every dollar from each paycheck to cover rent, leaving no income for utilities, food, child care, transportation, health care or other basic needs.


Brettler Family Place represents the beginning of Phase II of the homeless housing component of the Sand Point Reuse Plan. As with all military installations closed under the Base Realignment and Closure process, when the Sand Point Naval Base closed, the federal government required homeless housing to be part of the reuse plan. The Sand Point Reuse Plan, adopted in 1993 with much neighborhood input, called for "up to 200 units of housing with appropriate services for homeless and low-income (up to 80% of median) persons and families." In the late 1990s, Phase I saw the creation of 94 units of transitional housing in renovated Navy buildings. Solid Ground now is building 106 new units (which includes Brettler Family Place) of permanent housing with support services for hardworking families and individuals overcoming homelessness to reach the 200-unit total by 2012.


For more information about the housing at Sand Point, please visit www.solid-ground.org/programs/housing/sandpoint/pages/default.aspx or check out Solid Ground's blog post about the first tenants moving into Brettler Family Place at http://solidgroundblog.wordpress.com/2011/03/08/first-tenants-move-in-at-brettler-family-place/.

Multifamily Property Tax Exemption Program Renewed by City Council

On Monday, Feb. 28, City Council reauthorized the Multifamily Property Tax Exemption (MFTE) program, which had expired on Dec. 31, 2010. The MFTE program allows developers of newly constructed rental housing to receive a property tax exemption on the residential portion of the development for up to 12 years. In exchange, at least 20% of the housing must be affordable for moderate-wage workers. The tax exemption is available in 39 areas in Seattle.


With the reauthorization, the affordability levels for rental housing are now lower.  Rents for the set-aside units must be affordable to households at or below 65% of median income (about $39,000 for one person) for studio units; at or below 75% of median (about $45,000 for one person) for one-bedroom units; and at or below 85% of median (about $58,000 for two people) for two-bedroom and larger units. The requirements for homeownership projects are unchanged.


Under the reauthorized program, MFTE projects will continue to be approved by OH. However, projects will no longer need approval by Council resolution; instead OH will report to Council about newly approved applications three times per year. This changed approval process will result in lower application fees.


If you have questions about the MFTE program, please contact Amy Gray at amy.gray@seattle.gov or (206) 684-0262.

Upcoming Events of Interest

The Seattle Office of Civil Rights presents: Community Forum on Prohibiting Discrimination against People with Arrest and Conviction Records  

Wednesday, March 16, 6-8 p.m.

Bertha Knight Landes Room

Seattle City Hall, 600 Fourth Avenue

Questions? Visit http://www.seattle.gov/civilrights/protections.htm for more info or contact Elliott Bronstein, SOCR, at elliott@seattle.gov or (206) 684-4507 or Brenda Anibarro, SOCR, at brenda.anibarro@seattle.gov or (206) 684-4514.


The Office of Housing presents: 2011 Multifamily Funding Discussion see story above
Friday, March 25, 12:30 p.m.

Washington State Housing Finance Commission Board Room
1000 2nd Ave., 28th floor

This meeting is for prospective applicants for OH's 2011 multifamily funding to offer input on timing and structure. Questions? Contact Debbie Thiele, OH Multifamily Lending Manager, at debbie.thiele@seattle.gov.


The Office of Housing presents: 2012-2013 Housing Levy Administrative & Financial Plan Stakeholder Meeting see story above

Friday, March 25, 1:30-3 p.m.

Washington State Housing Finance Commission Board Room
1000 2nd Ave., 28th floor

Questions? Contact Maureen Kostyack at maureen.kostyack@seattle.gov.


The Office of Housing, the Human Services Department and partners present: Financial Fitness Day

Saturday, April 2, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Rainier Community Center

4600 38th Ave S

At this free event, people will be able to get one-on-one assistance in handling financial issues, including applying for public benefits, financial planning, foreclosure/mortgage counseling, opening a bank account, getting help in starting or growing a small business, and much more. Questions? Visit http://www.skcabc.org/fitness_fair/default.htm for information and to register.


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.