OH News

November/December 2011

From the Director...

City Council Budget Decision:



City Council approved the 2012 budget on Nov. 21, voting to keep the Office of Housing (OH) intact. While Council chose to keep OH as a standalone department, instead of merging it with the Office of Economic Development as was proposed, it did approve a package of budget cuts affecting OH. These cuts primarily have internal impacts, such as moving OH's personnel function into the City's centralized system and reducing our IT capacity. Also, the deputy director position was eliminated but a vacant manager position will be filled at a higher level.


Despite cuts, Council was able add $210,000 to OH's Rental Housing Program capital pool by shifting funding from the operating budget. Overall, the adopted budget helps to maintain and strengthen OH's ability to preserve and continue essential core services.


Understandably upset and jittery during a prolonged budget period, OH staff kept their cool and commitment through it all. And now hiring processes are moving along for our two vacant manager positions. We just hired a new lending manager, Laurie Olson, who will start at the beginning of January. The job posting for our last vacant manager position (strategic planning and projects, including incentive programs) should go out within the next few weeks.


Filling these positions comes not a moment too soon -- just check out the updates in this issue. OH is moving quickly forward on several exciting new initiatives: we are funding hundreds of new apartments, putting hundreds of people to work, and helping thousands of people access safe, affordable housing.


Starting in January, Home Base will be filled with more news relating to new initiatives.


In the meantime, to our many supporters and partners: Happy Holidays!


Rick Hooper

New OH Lending Manager
OH's New Homebuyer Program Lead
OH Awards $27 Million for Affordable Apartments
OH Receives $3 Million HUD Grant for TOD
HousingSearchNW Going Live in 2012
Stabilizing Neighborhoods Through Home Repair
Congrats to HomeWise's Ongoing Team Success!
Hard Hat Zone: Columbia City Station Apartments
City and State Benefits Available Online
OH Hires New Lending Manager
Laurie Olson has accepted OH's offer to become the new lending programs manager, overseeing both OH's Rental Housing and Homebuyer programs. Laurie comes to OH from Impact Capital, where she was a program officer underwriting complex affordable housing and community development projects within neighborhoods across the state. Prior to that, she worked at Snohomish County on a variety of affordable housing issues.


Laurie will start work at OH on Jan. 3, 2012. Once up and running, she can be reached at laurie.olson@seattle.gov or (206) 615-0995.


Welcome Laurie!

New Homebuyer Program Lead
Quinnie Tan
Quinnie Tan

Quinnie Tan is now the permanent staff lead on OH's Homebuyer Program. Quinnie worked on homebuyer programs previously at OH, but took over last summer when the previous manager left. She will continue this work, in addition to her multifamily project manager duties, on a permanent basis as we move into the new year.


Quinnie's work will include coordinating the Homebuyer Program NOFA, managing program agreements with OH's homebuyer program partners, working on funding coordination with other public funders and community partners on first-time homebuyer programs, as well as developing new programs and incentives to create more homeownership opportunities in Seattle.


We are delighted Quinnie has taken on the Homebuyer Program lead role. She can be reached at quinnie.tan@seattle.gov or (206) 684-0346.

OH Awards $27 Million for Affordable Apartments

On Nov. 10, Mayor Mike McGinn joined OH Director Rick Hooper to announce more than $27 million in capital funding for the construction of seven new apartment buildings that will serve homeless individuals, low-income families and seniors. Funded primarily from the Seattle Housing Levy, the investment will help create 467 new permanent apartments. 

2011 Multifamily Rental Housing Awards
Agency representatives join Mayor Mike McGinn and OH Director Rick Hooper for the announcement of funding
awards at the former Thunderbird Motel on Aurora Avenue,
one of the sites of future affordable housing funded by OH.


Overall, the funding will create 206 apartments for low-income families earning between $23,000-$47,000 for a three-person household, 70 apartments for low-income seniors earning up to $37,000 for an individual, and 191 apartments with supportive services for formerly homeless families and individuals.


The OH funds leverage more than $100 million in public and private capital funding. Taken together, these resources represent a major investment in Seattle neighborhoods from Fremont to Sand Point and Capitol Hill to Rainier Beach, revitalizing these communities and providing living-wage jobs.


For more information on all the developments announced at the Nov. 10 event, read the press release at http://www.seattle.gov/news/detail.asp?ID=12263 or watch the press conference on the Seattle Channel at http://www.seattlechannel.org/videos/video.asp?ID=1061176.


Late breaking news: we also have just learned that the federal government has approved two developments that OH supported early in last summer's multifamily rental housing funding process. The Low Income Housing Institute's 57-unit senior housing development to be located in Ballard received HUD 202 program support, while Community Psychiatric Clinic's Valor Apartments, which will provide 21 units for disabled persons in Lake City, received HUD 811 program support. These developments also will be supported by $3.6 million in OH funding.

OH Receives $3 Million HUD Grant for TOD

On Nov. 21, HUD Northwest Regional Administrator Mary McBride announced the award of a $3 million Sustainable Communities Challenge Grant to the City of Seattle to promote sustainable, affordable development along the Central Link light rail line in Southeast Seattle.


Together with matching funds from the City, Impact Capital and Enterprise Community Capital, the grant supports Seattle's Neighborhood Equitable Transit-Oriented Development Initiative (NET Initiative), a three-year $8.9 million program that will produce and support affordable housing, as well as commercial and community space. The NET Initiative aims to ensure that new development around transit stations benefits rather than displaces the existing diverse communities in the Rainier Valley.


With support from the Office of Economic Development, the Department of Planning & Development and the Department of Neighborhoods, OH will lead the initiative, helping to implement the priorities identified in recent Southeast Seattle neighborhood planning work.


The initiative will focus on three integrated community development strategies:

  • TOD Acquisition Loans - will provide short-term financing using public and private funding for acquisition and pre-development of affordable mixed-use projects around the light rail stations in the Rainier Valley and Beacon Hill. The structure of the loan program is currently being developed; we expect the program will begin making loans by 2013. Specific sites have not been identified at this point, but the goal is to help housing developers acquire 3-4 sites that will provide approximately 200 units of affordable housing.
  • Commercial Stability Strategy - will provide technical assistance to help stabilize commercial businesses within the established multicultural business district around the Othello Station. Developers may also receive technical assistance to create new affordable commercial space. The goal is to assist 30 businesses in each of the three years of the program.
  • Planning for a Shared Cultural Center - will fund feasibility analysis and a community engagement to plan a multicultural center that would strengthen the existing culturally and ethnically diverse community. A specific site has yet to be determined. Community meetings will occur throughout 2012, with the goal of engaging 200 participants from historically marginalized communities. By the third year of the program, a nonprofit organization will have been identified to lead the development process.


For more information, please contact Ryan Curren at ryan.curren@seattle.gov.

HousingSearchNW is Here (Almost)!

As reported in the last issue of Home Base, OH has been convening housing and service agencies, private landlords and government agencies to create a free housing locator service that will provide information about real-time vacancies in rental housing. And now we're happy to announce that with the design of the site finalized, landlords can begin registering their properties on HousingSearchNW.org.


Registration can be done online or by contacting Socialserve toll free at 1-877-428-8844 or info@socialserve.com. Listing information should include number of bedrooms, rent, accessibility features, access to transit, and more. Up to 10 pictures may be included per property. HousingSearchNW logo


For those who would like a little more guidance for using the site, in January we will begin offering information sessions. HousingSearchNW will offer training to landlords -- including nonprofits, other owners of subsidized housing, and private market property owners -- on how to list properties and update vacancy information. Many owners will be able to transfer listing information directly from their property management database systems. There will also be trainings for social service agency staff who can assist clients in looking for housing on the new website. 


Beginning in February, tenants will be able to search HousingSearchNW.org to find affordable rentals in Seattle and King County. The site will have an affordability calculator for tenants to use, along with mapping and shopping cart features that will help people looking for housing to compare properties.


For more information, contact Amy Gray at (206) 684-0262 or amy.gray@Seattle.gov.

Stabilizing Neighborhoods Through Home Repair

Many low- to moderate-income Seattle homeowners have trouble keeping their homes in good condition. Faulty wiring, broken side sewers, and leaking roofs put the homeowners and their families at risk and can lead to unnecessary tear-downs. Unfortunately, needed repairs are often beyond the financial grasp of these homeowners, and a home's long-term viability becomes increasingly at risk. 


The Office of Housing offers a solution. OH's low-interest home repair loans, funded by local and federal programs, help lower-income homeowners finance costly home repairs. With interest rates ranging from zero to three percent (depending on income) and payments that can be deferred up to 20 years, these loans provide a home repair lifeline for homeowners who cannot access other forms of financing. What's more, OH provides an in-house specialist to help homeowners navigate the tricky world of residential remodeling and move forward quickly and efficiently.

Home Repair - Before & After
Top photo: This home had a leaky, moss covered roof, damaged siding and an unsafe porch. Bottom photo: With an OH home repair loan, this home got a new roof, new siding, hand rails on the porch, and much more.


Issues that threaten occupants' health and safety or the structural integrity of the residence are the highest priority. Repair and replacement work can cover:

  • Chimneys
  • Roofs
  • Gutters
  • Foundations
  • Side sewers
  • Water lines and interior plumbing
  • Porches, stairways, decks, and balconies
  • Electrical wiring and panels
  • Plumbing
  • Accessibility modifications
  • Bathroom and kitchen updates
  • Code and related health and safety issues

The Office of Housing's home repair loans average about $17,000, and we make approximately 35 loans per year. The program is an integral part of a suite of OH programs that ensure that homeownership is and remains a viable option throughout our community. Besides making a home safer and healthier for the people living there, this program helps ensure people with limited means are not forced from their homes because they cannot afford necessary repairs.


For more information on the home repair loan program, please call (206) 684-0458 or email HomeRepairLoan@seattle.gov.

Congrats to HomeWise for Ongoing Team Success!

On Dec. 8, the Seattle Management Association recognized OH's HomeWise program staff with the 2011 Ongoing Team Success Award. Team members include: Bryan Cook, Theresa Cortez, Maria Goncalves, Barry Henderson, Richard Krug, Bobby Lindsay, Esref Marusic, Laura Oatfield, Chris Pfohl, Aziz Rahmani, Jack Smith and Bill terKuile. Current team leader Miriam Roskin and previous team leader John Flynn shared in this honor.


HomeWise has been delivering weatherization and energy efficiency measures to Seattle's low-income homeowners and renters since the 1980s. While that certainly would be considered "ongoing success," longevity alone wasn't enough to earn the honor. Starting in 2010, this program retooled its business practices and massively ramped up its capacity upon receiving almost $5 million in federal stimulus funds through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA). To date HomeWise has completed 2,258 ARRA-funded housing units, well over the target of 1,582 units.


But the production stats don't tell the whole story. HomeWise's mission emphasizes both social services and energy conservation. Some of our most vulnerable community members now reside in safer and more comfortable houses and apartments, and their economic condition is improved with lower utility bills. The environment is also better off, with HomeWise reducing its clients' energy consumption by an average of at least 12 percent. The local economy benefited too; in 2010, for example, HomeWise's payments to external contractors and materials suppliers totaled $4.9 million.


HomeWise staff accept SMA award
HomeWise staff got all dressed up to accept the Ongoing Team Success Award. Back row: Miriam Roskin, Aziz Rahmani, Bill terKuile, Bobby Lindsay, Chris Pfohl, OH Director Rick Hooper, Sherri Anderson and Barry Henderson. Front row: Esref Marusic, Laura Oatfield, Maria Goncalves and Theresa Cortez. Not pictured: John Flynn, Jack Smith, Bryan Cook and Richard Krug.


About SMA

The Seattle Management Association (SMA) is a non-profit professional association with over 300 members. Its mission is to provide managers and other leaders with practical learning experiences, access to essential resources, and opportunities to explore new ideas and build relationships with peers throughout government. Each year SMA works to achieve its mission through a series of special events and networking opportunities.

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 Mercy Housing Northwest's Columbia City Station Apartments.


Columbia City Station Apartments

Columbia City Station Apts
The first floor slab was recently poured; framing will start soon, with the roof to be installed in February.

Last summer, Mercy Housing Northwest began construction on the Columbia City Station Apartments , a 52-unit affordable workforce housing project at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Way South and South Oregon Street. The apartments will be affordable to households earning up to 50% and 60% of area median income, about $30,800-$37,000 for one person and $35,000-$42,000 for two. Rents will range from $758 to $825 for the one-bedroom units, and $906 to $1,020 for the two-bedroom units.


The site is ideally located two blocks from the Columbia City light rail station, and is next to a bus stop with frequent service. As part of Rainier Vista, the Mercy project will be integrated into a larger pedestrian-oriented community, and residents will have access to many amenities such as parks, sports fields, the new Boys & Girls Club, p-patches, a farmers' market, computer centers and a community center. Onsite, residents will have access to a first floor community room and an outside patio with plenty of green space around the property, including three mature trees that were preserved.


This project is a significant component of the HOPE VI revitalization of Rainier Vista, which aims to replace 484 World War II-era public housing units with approximately 875 new homes affordable to households across all income levels. Mercy purchased the site from the Seattle Housing Authority (SHA), which owns and operates Rainier Vista, and the Columbia City Station Apartments are part of Rainier Vista Phase II.


Columbia City Station is the first development in the city of Seattle for Mercy Housing Northwest, which is a large organization with experience developing affordable housing projects across Washington, Idaho and Oregon.


Columbia City Station Apts rendering
Columbia City Station Apartments
City and State Benefits Now Available on One Website

Low-income residents in the greater Seattle area can now more easily learn about and apply for multiple city, local and state-sponsored programs that support people in need. Joined by state Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) Secretary Susan Dreyfus, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other partners, Mayor Mike McGinn recently announced the availability of City of Seattle benefits on the statewide web portal, Washington Connection.


It's the first partnership of its kind in the nation between a state and a large city. Launched in December 2010, Washington Connection was expanded in August 2011 to incorporate City benefit programs, including:

  • Utility Discount Program
  • Child Care Assistance Program
  • Seattle Step Ahead Preschool Program
  • Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP)

Through mid-November, the City received applications through Washington Connection from 1,991 households applying for 4,177 City benefits.

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.