OH News

May 2011

From the Director -




I'm pleased to announce that the Office of Housing has published the 2011 Multifamily Rental Housing Program Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA). With this NOFA we're announcing the availability of approximately $22 million in capital funds to support the production and preservation of long-term affordable rental housing.


Nonprofit and private developers are invited to submit proposals for acquisition, rehabilitation and/or new construction of affordable rental housing for low-income households. More information and application materials are available now on the OH website. Applications are due to OH by noon on July 29, 2011, and funding decisions are expected to be announced in October.


Much of the funding we will be awarding comes from the Seattle Housing Levy, renewed by an astounding 67% of Seattle voters in November 2009. The generosity of Seattle residents -- from the most recent Levy all the way back to the first senior housing bond in 1981 -- is what allows us to continue increasing Seattle's stock of safe, decent long-term affordable homes. With nearly 11,000 apartments now in the OH portfolio, we're doing our part to build strong, healthy communities and increase opportunities for people of all income levels to live in our city.


Seattle is home to a diverse community of incredibly talented and experienced affordable housing developers, and I expect we will see some great proposals again this year!


Rick Hooper, Director

Seattle Receives Door Knocker Recognition
Additional Weatherization Funding
Evergreen Sustainable Design Standards
HUD Recognizes OH Funding Collaboration
Seattle Rental Market Snapshot
Hard Hat Zone - Rose Street Apartments
Free Toilets to Eligible Homeowners
College Bound Scholarship
Upcoming Events
HUD Recognizes OH, nonprofits for excellence in creating affordable housing
Door Knocker Award
CHH's Betsy Hunter (left) with Mercedes Marquez, HUD Assistant Secretary of Community Planning and Development, and Jack Peters, Director of the Office of Community Planning and Development for HUD Region X

Last week, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recognized the City of Seattle's efforts in producing affordable housing as part of the 20th Anniversary of the federal HOME Program. HOME is the largest federal block grant program dedicated to producing affordable housing at the state and local level. The Seattle Office of Housing and Capitol Hill Housing (CHH) received a Door Knocker Award in the category of Producing Sustainable Housing for CHH's Broadway Crossing, which was funded in part with HOME dollars.


Since 1992, HOME dollars have helped to produce more than one million units of affordable housing in the United States. HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan announced the Door Knocker awards to 14 projects nationwide for their exceptional use of HUD's HOME Investment Partnerships Program. "Producing affordable housing is hard work but these jurisdictions are building better communities and creating opportunities for people most in need," Secretary Donovan said.


Broadway Crossing, at the corner of Broadway and Pine Street in Capitol Hill, is one of the greenest residential developments in Seattle, earning a LEED Silver rating when it opened in 2007. Half of its 44 units are reserved for very low-income households, including nine for formerly homeless families transitioning through the Sound Families Initiative of the Gates Foundation. The other 22 units serve households earning up to 60 percent of area median income, which is about $36,000 for an individual or $46,000 for a family of three.

Broadway Crossing

Broadway Crossing


Broadway Crossing is a great example of pedestrian-friendly, transit-oriented, affordable housing amidst mostly market-rate housing and extensive commercial and retail businesses. One of the most unique aspects of the project was the coordination between the community, CHH and Walgreen's to transform the plans for a one-story drug store with surface parking to a taller building with affordable housing for this prominent corner.


"When you look for innovative and cost-effective approaches to producing and preserving affordable housing, there's no better place to start than in Northwest communities," said HUD Northwest Regional Administrator Mary McBride. "Organizations all across the region like the City of Seattle and Capitol Hill Housing are leading the charge to a smart, sustainable future."


Two other city-funded apartment projects received an honorable mention, LIHI's McDermott Place and HRG's Stone Way Apartments.

OH Receives Additional ARRA Funding for Energy Efficiency Efforts

OH recently learned that our HomeWise Program will be receiving additional funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) for our energy efficiency and weatherization programs for both single and multifamily households. The award of additional money for this work is a testament to HomeWise staff's outstanding stewardship of the ARRA funding awarded in 2009.


The state Department of Commerce, which allocates the ARRA funding, assessed the quality, quantity and velocity of project delivery when deciding to distribute additional funds and extend the deadline for expenditure from June to December. Many of OH's affordable housing partners share in this success, having joined HomeWise to ensure that projects moved forward quickly and efficiently.


The new funding brings the total ARRA award for HomeWise to $5 million, which supplements the other federal, state and local fund sources currently invested in the program. As of the end of April 2011, the program has completed energy efficiency and weatherization work on 1,296 units (this includes apartments and single family homes), or 81 percent of the unit target set under the original grant award. Construction work necessary to complete all remaining required units is currently underway.


Nationwide ARRA is providing $5 billion for residential weatherization projects. Recovery funding must be used to increase the energy efficiency of dwellings owned or occupied by low-income people. The stimulus funds represent a significant increase in funding for an ongoing program that allows the city to reduce its carbon footprint, decrease the demand for energy, reduce energy costs for low-income households in Seattle, and help create green jobs.


To learn more about the HomeWise Program, visit www.seattle.gov/housing/HomeWise or call (206) 684-0604.

Evergreen Sustainable Design Standards

All OH-funded Rental Housing Program projects must follow the Washington State Department of Commerce requirements for Evergreen Sustainable Development Standards. The Evergreen Standard has 70 criteria including ones that safeguard health and safety, increase durability and sustainable living, preserve the environment, and increase energy efficiency.


In projects jointly funded by the state and OH, the Department of Commerce will monitor for compliance. Detailed requirements may be found at the Department of Commerce website.


For projects without state funding, OH has developed procedures for monitoring compliance with ESDS. These procedures are available on OH's Affordable Rental Housing Development: Policies and Administrative Guidelines web page.

OH Funding Collaboration: A National Model 

State and local housing agencies rely on a wide range of funds to support affordable rental housing, many of which have unique programmatic restrictions and compliance structuresHUD website snapshot. In recent years, OH and its many partners have found much success in coordinating these funding processes. Collaborative partnerships provide an opportunity to better align existing funding programs to improve outcomes for residents, coordinate investments for maximum impact, reduce administrative burdens, and ensure the long-term preservation of the overall affordable housing stock.


Now, we're all getting some recognition for our hard work and strong partnerships.


In March, HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research launched an affordable rental housing partnerships website, highlighting innovative partnerships working for the preservation of affordable rental housing. This site profiles some leading examples in intergovernmental coordination - including OH and the rest of the (Washington) Combined Funder Group - where state and local funders have successfully come together in a cross-cutting fashion to improve outcomes on the ground.


The website gathers experiences and examples of tools that facilitate collaborative efforts to create and sustain affordable rental housing resources especially during current economic crisis, such as affordable housing databases, joint project monitoring, and coordination of multiple funding sources. There are also links to other websites that provide a wealth of additional information on efforts to improve, create, or foster collaborative partnerships.


Besides creating a streamlined process, the information that is collected from housing providers allows OH and other funders to be stronger advocates for affordable rental housing programs. The data collected through our real-time Web Based Reporting System (WBARs) provides information useful to informing stakeholders and funders on the operational performance of our properties and general information of the households served. By strengthening our systems, we have enhanced our capacity to measure outcomes which is, in part, why our work is getting a lot of attention and is considered a model by HUD.

Seattle Rental Market: Vacancy Rates and Rents

Periodically, we plan to offer data snapshots of interest to our Home Base readers. This month we're providing vacancy rates and rents for Seattle apartments, comparing spring 2010 to spring 2011. OH staff extract this Seattle-specific data from the Dupre+Scott Apartment Advisors, Inc., Apartment Vacancy Report, which is published twice a year in the fall and spring. The main takeaway is average rents in Seattle increased 3% overall in the last year and vacancy rates dropped by over one-third. 



Market vacancy rate



Spring 2010



 $       1.56

Spring 2011



 $       1.61






Market vacancy rate



Spring 2010



 $       1.78

Spring 2011



 $       1.79





1 BRs

Market vacancy rate



Spring 2010



 $       1.49

Spring 2011



 $       1.51





2 BR/1 B

Market vacancy rate



Spring 2010



 $       1.37

Spring 2011



 $       1.40






 *NRSF = net rentable square feet (exlcudes decks and common areas).

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 the Rose Street Apartments, which just opened in Rainier Beach.


Rose Street Apartments

The Rose Street Apartments 

Rose Street Apartments

On Tuesday, May 3, Housing Resources Group (HRG) celebrated the grand opening of the Rose Street Apartments, a new 71-unit community in the Rainier Beach neighborhood. Located on the corner of Rainier Avenue and Rose Street, HRG says it is one of only two new multifamily apartment buildings developed in the past 20 years on Rainier Avenue between South Henderson Street and Columbia City.


Rose Street, a workforce housing development, has 70 apartments for households earning up to 60% area median income. This translates to monthly rents between $733-$760 per month for one-bedroom units and $958 per month for two-bedroom units. Additionally, there are three live/work studios and one corner retail space designed for small businesses or artists' studios. Tenant amenities include a children's play area, reserved underground parking, a shared laundry room and a P-Patch community garden.

Rose Street Apartments play area

OH's Multifamily Lending Manager Debbie Thiele and Asset Manager Cindy Erickson test out the children's play area
 during HRG's grand opening celebration.


HRG was excited about the opportunity to redevelop this vacant parcel to provide quality apartments and responsive management to the residents of Rainier Beach. HRG's redevelopment of the site includes a newly enhanced Metro bus stop with landscaping and street improvements adjoining the property. HRG holds a second land parcel to the north of Rose Street Apartments, on which it anticipates building further workforce housing in the future.


HRG continued its sustainable development practices at Rose Street, where the building was constructed to the Washington Evergreen Standard and includes energy efficient appliances, lighting and central hot water heating.  


For more information on HRG visit www.hrg.org.

Free Water-Saving Toilets for Eligible Homeowners

Save water and money with free high-efficiency toilets for qualifying city residents. Toilets offered by Seattle Public Utilities flush well, help conserve water, and save homeowners money. Replacement of older toilets with high-efficiency models can save a family of four up to 24,000 gallons of water and $140 each year. If you meet the following criteria and income guidelines, you can qualify for free toilets and installation by a licensed professional plumber:

  • You are a homeowner of any age with a Seattle Public Utilities account
  • You currently live in the home you own
  • Your existing toilets were manufactured before 1994
  • You meet income guidelines for your household size

The Seattle Human Services Department's Mayor's Office for Senior Citizens is partnering with Seattle Public Utilities and Senior Services' Minor Home Repair program on this effort. To sign up or get more information, please contact Minor Home Repair at 206-448-5751 (TTY 206-448-5025) or UDP@seattle.gov.

College Bound Scholarship - Spread the Word

The Seattle Office of Housing's mission is to build strong healthy communities and increase opportunities for people of all income levels to live in our city. While we believe safe, decent affordable housing is essential to healthy communities, educational opportunities for our disadvantaged youth are just as important. That's why we're spreading the word about the College Bound Scholarship program, which provides hope and incentive for students and families who otherwise might not consider college as an option because of its cost.


Low-income 7th and 8th grade students who sign a pledge by June 30 of their 8th grade year are eligible for a scholarship to cover costs of earning a certificate or degree at a Washington higher education institution. College Bound students promise to graduate from a Washington state high school or home school with a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher; demonstrate good citizenship in school and community, and stay crime-free; submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form in a timely manner; and apply to an eligible college.


To qualify, students must meet just one of these requirements: are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch; are a foster youth (regardless of income); receive TANF benefits; or, meet the family income requirements. The amount of the scholarship will be based on tuition rates at Washington public colleges and universities and will cover the amount of tuition and fees (plus $500 for books) not covered by other state financial aid awards.


For more information or to apply, visit www.hecb.wa.gov/collegebound or contact collegebound@hecb.wa.gov or 1-888-535-0747.

Upcoming Events of Interest
Seattle City Light presents: A discussion about the SCL's six-year strategic plan

Monday, May 23, 1:30 - 3:30 p.m.

Seattle Municipal Tower - Floor 40, Room 4050/60
700 Fifth Ave

Co-hosts Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS), King County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the Housing Development Consortium of Seattle-King County invite you to join Council Member Bruce Harrell, the Seattle City Light Review Panel and Seattle City Light officials in a discussion about the utility's six-year strategic plan and how to shape the utility's future.


Please RSVP to shelly.sherwood@seattle.gov. If you would like information about the strategic plan, please visit www.seattle.gov/light/strategic-plan.

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.