OH News

April 2011

From the Acting Director -

OH awards $2.9 million to assist first-time homebuyers


We are excited to announce spring funding awards to five agencies, which will help an estimated 60 Seattle households become first-time homebuyers. The agencies and awards are:

  • Habitat for Humanity - $220,000
  • HomeSight - $630,000
  • Homestead Community Land Trust - $1,367,500
  • Parkview Services - $135,000
  • Washington State Housing Finance Commission - $540,000


Funding sources include the Seattle Housing Levy, the federal HOME program, as well as money from the City's Housing Bonus program. This City funding will be leveraged with other agency and private lender funding.


Helping first-time homebuyers is an important priority for Seattle's Office of Housing. Homeownership helps young families stay in Seattle as they move from renting to owning. Buyers are assisted with homeownership counseling to help ensure they don't get overextended financially.


A few quick statistics about the City's Homeownership Program:

  • 230 first-time buyers assisted between 2008 and 2010
  • 39% are households of color
  • 36% of the households have incomes below 60% median income (about $41,000 for two people; $51,000 for four); the rest have incomes between 60% and 80% median (up to $51,550 for two people; $64,400 for four)
  • 36% are households of three or more people


Additional funding may be made available later this year through a fall Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA). For more Homeownership Program information, please contact Mark Ellerbrook at (206) 684-3340 or mark.ellerbrook@seattle.gov.



Rick Hooper, Acting Director

2011 Multifamily NOFA Update
Portfolio Preservation Planning Grants RFP
A New Home, a New Hope
HUD's 202 and 811 Programs
A New Boiler System Translates into Dramatic Savings
Housing Levy 2010 Report Now Available
Hard Hat Zone - Claremont Apartments & Claremont Place
Ten-Year Plan Mid-Point Review
Upcoming Events
2011 Multifamily NOFA to be Issued in May

The Office of Housing intends to adhere to the following timeline for its 2011 Multifamily Rental Housing Program Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA):


NOFA publication:  Mid-May

Consistency letter checklists due: June 1 

Applications due:  July 29

Announcements:  October


OH is working closely with the Washington State Department of Commerce and King County, and we understand that they will be operating on the same timeline. The King County Combined NOFA for Homeless Housing will also be published in May and will provide guidance on priorities for capital, service, operating and rental assistance funds for homeless housing.


Please note that we anticipate an extremely competitive funding round this year. OH will publish the availability of roughly $20 million for multifamily 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. These requests represent $90 million in total requests for public funding from the City, King County and Washington state.


Our goal during the pre-application process is to offer as much constructive feedback as possible as to the competitiveness of specific projects so as to avoid unnecessary investments in predevelopment. Pre-application meetings are required prior to submitting an application. Please contact Debbie Thiele, Multifamily Lending Manager at debbie.thiele@seattle.gov to schedule a pre-application meeting to be held by May 31.


Please note that checklists for Consolidated Plan consistency certifications (including neighborhood notification) must be submitted to Amy Gray, Community Development Specialist, by June 1. To submit your certification or ask questions about consistency certifications, please contact Amy at amy.gray@seattle.gov or (206) 684-0262 and/or visit the OH website for more information about the Consolidated Plan and the certification checklists.

Request for Proposals: Portfolio Preservation Planning Grants

The City of Seattle has had a longstanding commitment to preserving affordable housing. The Seattle Housing Levy and other sources have created a large "new generation" of affordable housing, with long-term affordability covenants and mission-driven, nonprofit owners. Today, OH and the Washington State Department of Commerce (Commerce) are working together to bolster the long-term financial and physical viability of these properties and their nonprofit owners.


In 2009, OH and Commerce received a three-year grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to support efforts to assure long-term viability of our affordable rental housing. The grant is part of the MacArthur Foundation's Window of Opportunity Affordable Housing Preservation Initiative supporting technical assistance, capital needs assessments and recapitalization strategies for nonprofit housing owners.


OH awarded three Portfolio Preservation Planning grant to three non-profit agencies in 2009 and three non-profit agencies in 2010, and has a remaining budget of $40,000 for two new grants in 2011. OH is now seeking requests for proposals for the final year of the grant.


The results of the previous grants have been outstanding. Mijo Vodopic of the MacArthur Foundation noted, "The proactive approach to asset management in Seattle, along with other jurisdictions, is emerging as one of the more promising preservation strategies the Foundation has supported through its work at the state and local level. Smart asset management leads to better allocation of scarce resources and a more predictable public sector role for the preservation of affordable rental housing."


To apply, please visit www.seattle.gov/housing/management. Applications are due by 4 p.m. on Monday, May 6, 2011. For more information, please contact Cindy Erickson at cindy.erickson@seattle.gov.

The Ultimate Welcome Home Gift: A New Home

When the lender foreclosed upon an unfinished development of 15 single family homes on Wolcott Avenue in Rainier Beach during summer 2010, it could have remained incomplete and vacant for years. With five homes finished but unsold, two homes half built, and foundations alone standing on the remaining eight lots, the subdivision likely would have attracted graffiti and other crime to a neighborhood already hit hard by foreclosures.  Instead, with the help of a $1.45 million short-term acquisition loan through the Housing Levy Acquisition & Opportunity Loan Program, Homestead Community Land Trust purchased the development, is finishing the homes, and began selling them to moderate-income first-time homebuyers. As part of a land trust, the homes will remain affordable to future Seattle households. Below is the story of Antonio Li, the proud new owner of a Wolcott home.


For Antonio Li's family, their welcome home gift is a house. When they arrive in the U.S. this year, they will be moving into a brand new home in Homestead Community Land Trust's Wolcott development in the Rainier Beach neighborhood. With the help of the Seattle Housing Levy, Homestead has been able to turn what was once a failed commercial venture into an opportunity for hard-working families like the Li's, giving them the chance to realize their dream of homeownership.

Antonio Li

Antonio Li proudly displays the keys to his new home.


Antonio Li has been working in the U.S. for seven years. While waiting to be reunited with his wife and 12-year-old daughter still residing in the Philippines, he has been working diligently to make sure that when his family arrives, they have a place they can call home. Despite working two jobs and saving every penny he could, for Li, homeownership seemed like it would remain just a dream. Since he relies on public transportation, moving too far away from his downtown job was not a viable choice. If he elected to purchase a market-rate house within the city, his only options were run-down homes that would end up costing him too much in the long run simply to maintain.


For Li, finding Homestead was the answer to his dreams. "Homestead is a very good program, I felt they sincerely wanted to help me. Without the help, I couldn't have done it."


And it seems the whole time, the answer was right under his nose. Li is a part of the custodial staff at the One Union building where his lender, and Homestead partner, Homestreet Bank is housed. Through Homestead, Li found his home, a brand new house within walking distance of the light rail station and several bus routes.


When asked what his favorite thing about his new home is, Li simply responds, "I can't choose, I love it all so much." One thing he is excited about though, is getting a chance to experiment in the garden. He already has plans for an orange tree. He's also eager to meet his new neighbors, most of whom purchased their homes through Homestead.


Li closed on his house at the end of March and is looking forward to the next steps: making the home ready for his family, who he hopes will be in Seattle and happily living in their new home this summer.

Applications for Letters of Conditional Commitment for HUD's 202 and 811 Programs

The federal department of Housing and Urban Development has issued its Notice of Funding Availability for 202 Housing for elderly residents. Approximately $10 million is available for a four-state region that includes Washington. Applications are due to HUD June 1.


In order to position the City of Seattle for receipt of this significant federal leverage, the Office of Housing will accept applications for letters of conditional commitment for HUD 202 projects now through April 29. OH expects to provide letters of conditional commitment to any and all projects that meet this threshold review by the end of May. If your agency intends to submit an application for a conditional commitment letter, please contact Debbie Thiele, Multifamily Lending Manager at debbie.thiele@seattle.gov as soon as possible. Application information and forms can be found at on the NOFA announcements page of the OH website.


OH is also considering providing conditional commitments for HUD 811 financing and will make a determination regarding these commitments soon. Please direct any questions or comments you have regarding OH's approach to 202 and 811 applications to debbie.thiele@seattle.gov.

Even Ongoing Cold Weather Can't Put a Chill on Dramatic Savings

Replacement of boiler system saves energy and lowers utility expenses beyond expectations


One of these days, we're going to make it out of what feels like the longest winter in Seattle history. With temperatures struggling to climb much above 50 degrees, people may be turning the heat on more often than during a typical March or April. For many Seattle residents the persistent cold weather likely leads to higher utility bills as compared to previous years.

The Devonshire Apartments

The Devonshire Apartments


Unless it's Belltown's Devonshire Apartments, that is.


What began as an effort to upgrade the building's boiler system resulted in dollar savings more than three times predictions.


The old gas boilers at the Devonshire resembled your great-grandma's washing machine (no joking, see the photo below); the replacement system, providing both hot water and heat, looks like it was lifted from a high-tech lab.


In late 2009, both the City and the building's owner, Capitol Hill Housing (CHH), committed to a shared investment of $101,000, with the understanding that the boiler replacement could yield energy savings of about 3,000 therms and about $3,000 in utility expense per year. 


In early 2010, OH's Richard Krug teamed up with CHH's staff and contractor, Reed Wright, to design and deliver this project. A consolidated domestic hot water and heating system has replaced four separate tub-shaped boilers - one of which was no longer functional. As the project concluded early in 2010, building management waited to see whether the predicted savings would in fact materialize.

Boilers at the Devonshire


Did they ever. Since the boilers' installation, gas consumption has been on a steady downward march, triggering annual dollar savings of about $10,000 even in the context of a 6% rate increase.


Even more importantly, by lowering overall operations and maintenance expense, these savings provide CHH  both an unexpectedly short payback period and an opportunity to invest in additional improvements that directly benefit CHH's tenants.


OH's contribution to this boiler replacement project came from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the federal stimulus program initiated in 2009. The Devonshire accounts for 62 of the 1,300 residences - both single family houses and apartments - that have received federal stimulus funds via OH's HomeWise Program so far.  And more are on the way!


About HomeWise

The HomeWise Program provides weatherization services that help to conserve energy, cut carbon emissions, improve occupants' health and safety, and deliver the kind of financial savings that can ultimately preserve affordable housing throughout the city of Seattle. To learn more, visit www.seattle.gov/housing/homewise or call (206) 684-0244.

Housing Levy 2010 Annual Report Now Available 

In November 2009, Seattle voters passed a seven-year, $145 million property tax levy to provide affordable housing opportunities for low-income Seattle residents. The Housing Levy funds five programs that create and preserve affordable rental housing, assist first-time homebuyers to purchase a home, and provide emergency rent assistance to prevent homelessness. This funding directly assists some of the most vulnerable people in our community - homeless families and individuals, seniors and people with disabilities living on fixed incomes - as well as people working for low wages who struggle to make ends meet.


OH recently published the Housing Levy 2010 Annual Report, showing progress made on goals during the first year of the 2009 Housing Levy.  You can download the report at http://seattle.gov/housing/levy/docs/2010_annual_report.pdf.

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 Claremont Apartments & Claremont Place, SEED's latest development serving Southeast Seattle at the site of the former Chubby & Tubby flagship store.


The Claremont

The Claremont Apartments 

The Claremont

On April 26, SouthEast Effective Development (SEED) will celebrate the opening of The Claremont, a new mixed-use development with retail and office space, plus apartments for working families and individuals located at the site of the former Chubby & Tubby store along Rainier Avenue South.


The development, made up of the Claremont Apartments and the Claremont Place townhouses, provides affordable workforce housing in the transit-oriented development area centered around the Mount Baker light rail station. The Claremont Apartments, part of the five-story building along Rainier Avenue, offer 58 mixed-income rental units. A rooftop garden offers great views of downtown Seattle and Mount Rainier, while a community room with a kitchen opens onto an outdoor garden. Claremont Place offers 10 townhouses located behind the apartment building.


Of the 68 housing units, four will be affordable at or below 50% of median income (about $33,700 for a family of two), 27 will be affordable at or below 60% of median income (about $45,000 for a family of three) and 36 will be affordable at or below 80% of median income (up to $57,000 for a family of three). One unit will be unrestricted for an on-site property manager.


The ClaremontAt the Claremont Apartments, SEED pursued its highest standard of sustainability to date, meeting the Washington Evergreen Standard, Enterprise Green Communities, City of Seattle Built Smart, and Built Green King County standards for sustainability in multifamily construction. Features include: sub-metering for water use to encourage conservation; 99% energy-efficient, re-circulating central hot water heaters; recycling of construction waste; and green flooring and cabinets (recycled content and produced regionally).


Besides the many amenities provided in the surrounding Mount Baker neighborhood, residents will have easy access to their jobs, shopping and other services because of the many transit options. Frequent bus service is available directly outside the building on Rainier Avenue as well as a few blocks to the west on Martin Luther King Jr. Way; the Mount Baker light rail station is only a four-block walk and can get you to downtown in 15 minutes.


For more information about SEED and The Claremont, visit www.seedseattle.org.


Ten-Year Plan Mid-Point Review Process Underway

In 2005, our region embraced a Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness and established the Committee to End Homelessness in King County (CEH). CEH is charged with implementing the goals of the Ten-Year Plan: prevent homelessness whenever possible; move people rapidly from homelessness to stable housing; increase the efficiency of existing systems and improve collaboration; and create the public and political will to end homelessness.


Now, in year five of the plan, CEH is conducting a mid-plan review, which will take place later this month. CEH will host community discussions on a number of key focus areas of the plan. These discussions will take place in the context of two-hour conversations among national and local experts and interested community members at the Tukwila Community Center, 12424 42nd Ave. S, Tukwila. The schedule and topics to be covered are as follows:


Monday, April 25

Performance Measures and Accountability at All Levels (9-11 a.m.)

Homeless Youth and Young Adults (11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.)

Systems Level Prevention (2-4 p.m.)


Tuesday, April 26

Emergency Housing for Homeless Single Adults (9:30-11:30 a.m.)

Political Will (12-2 p.m.)

Immigrant and Refugee Communities (2:30-4:30 p.m.)


Thursday, April 28

Roll out of the first draft of the plan for comment (2-3:30 p.m.)


For more information visit http://www.cehkc.org/MidPlanReview.aspx

Questions: Gretchen Bruce, CEH Program Manager, (206) 263-9085 or gretchen.bruce@kingcounty.gov

Upcoming Events of Interest

King County presents: Housing Stakeholder Meeting on Countywide Planning Policies Update

April 22, 2011, 11 a. m.-12:30 p.m.
Bellevue City Hall, Conference Room 1E-120
450 110th Ave NE

The King County Growth Management Planning Council (GMPC) is in the process of updating the Countywide Planning Policies (CPPs), and is holding a meeting to discuss the Housing Chapter. The review draft of the updated CPPs, including the Housing Chapter, is available online at www.kingcounty.gov/CPPupdates.


United Way of King County presents:  2011 Community Resource Exchange

April 22, 2011, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

East Hall of Qwest Event Center
800 Occidental Ave S

United Way's Community Resource Exchange connects people experiencing homelessness with the services they need all in one place, in one day-with everything from housing, employment and legal assistance to free health services, haircuts, voicemail accounts and supply-filled backpacks. Last September more than 100 services providers and 300 volunteers served 2,400 people experiencing homelessness. With your help we can do it again this April. To learn more about the CRE and how you may be able to help, visit www.uwkc.org/cre.


Associated Students of the University of Washington presents: Spring Housing Fair

April 27, 2010, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Red Square

University of Washington Campus

ASUW Off-Campus Housing Affairs is holding a spring housing fair in Red Square encompassing all student housing options - from dorm rooms to off-campus housing and non-profit housing options. The fair will offer the opportunity to increase exposure of rental units or complexes and bring social housing issues to the attention of students. The deadline for vendor sign-up is April 15. For more information visit housing.asuw.org or call (206) 543-8997.


Housing Development Consortium presents: HDC's Third Annual Luncheon

April 29, 2011, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. (seating begins at noon)

The Grand Hyatt Seattle Ballroom
721 Pine Street

Join the Housing Development Consortium of Seattle-King County and 500 affordable housing leaders and practitioners from throughout the county at HDC's third annual luncheon. Keynote Speaker: Shelley Poticha, Director for Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities for HUD and a recognized expert on the role of affordable housing in transit-oriented communities. Minimum suggested contribution for the luncheon is $100. Please contact Jessica Nguyen for more info and to RSVP: jessica@housingconsortium.org

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.