OH News

Spring 2012

From the Director...


Sorry it's been so long since we we've been in touch through Home Base! We've been so busy this year we've almost forgotten to stop and share our news with the world. In the first few months of 2012 we've done a lot of reflecting on the past year as well as planning for the future.


For those interested in 2011 recaps, we've published the OH Report of Accomplishments, the Housing Levy Annual Report and the Multifamily Property Tax Exemption (MFTE) Program Report. Other recent accomplishments, including  Homebuyer Program funding awards and the launch of a new free housing search tool, are detailed in this newsletter.


As for the immediate future, we're working to publish the 2012 Rental Housing Program Notice of Funding Availability, we've selected our new manager for policy and program initiatives, and we're well underway on planning the City's neighborhood equitable transit-oriented development efforts funded by a HUD Challenge Grant. Read on for updates on all of this work and more.




Rick Hooper

2012 Multifamily Rental Housing NOFA Update
OH Awards Homebuyer Assistance Funds
OH Selects Manager for Policy and Program Initiatives
Housing Levy A&F Plan Update
Yesler Terrace Redevelopment Update
HousingSearchNW Ready for Renters
HomeWise Success Story: the Brighton Apartments
HUD Challenge Grant: Planning Underway
Hard Hat Zone: Aurora Supportive Housing
Communities Supporting Safe & Stable Housing Plan
Free Fair Housing Training

2012 Multifamily Rental Housing NOFA Update

Seattle Housing Levy logoOH is actively preparing the 2012 Rental Housing Program Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) to be released this summer. OH will announce the availability of up to $20 million in City funds for multifamily rental housing development. With a very limited amount of low income housing tax credits (LIHTC) available and restrictions on other leveraged dollars, we anticipate this will be an extremely competitive funding round.


A draft NOFA is available now on OH's website. We will be accepting feedback on the draft through May 30.


The tentative schedule calls for publishing the NOFA in mid-June and holding pre-application meetings through the summer, with final applications due by the end of August. Staff review will occur throughout the fall, with final decisions announced in November.


OH is continuing to coordinate with the Washington State Department of Commerce and King County to work along the same timeline, helping to streamline application preparation efforts for affordable housing developers. Public funders including OH, King County, Commerce and the Washington State Housing Finance Commission will share information on funding priorities and application timelines at the May 18 Housing Development Consortium member meeting


The King County Combined NOFA for Homeless Housing is likely to be published in mid-June as well and will provide guidance on priorities for capital, service, operating and rental assistance funds for homeless housing. 


Please note that checklists for Consolidated Plan consistency certifications must be submitted to Amy Gray, Community Development Specialist, by Aug. 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.


Questions about the NOFA process should be directed to Laurie Olson, OH's Multifamily Lending Manager at laurie.olson@seattle.gov.

OH Awards Funding for Homebuyer Assistance

Last month, OH awarded Homebuyer Program funds to Homestead Community Land Trust (HCLT) and the Washington State Housing Finance Commission (WSHFC). HCLT's $770,000 award is expected to initially assist 15 homebuyers, and provides permanently affordable homeownership opportunities created in partnership with Habitat for Humanity and Parkview Services. The WSHFC's award of $540,000 will fund downpayment assistance loans for up to 18 first-time homebuyers. 


OH's Homebuyer Program assists families and individuals with household income at or below 80 percent area median income become homeowners in the city of Seattle. In 2011, 81 low-income households purchased their first homes with help from the program.


For more information, contact Quinnie Tan at (206) 684-0346 or quinnie.tan@seattle.gov.

OH Selects Manager for Policy and Program Initiatives

OH has concluded its selection process for a manager to oversee a host of planning, policy and program development initiatives. Miriam Roskin, who currently serves as manager of OH's HomeWise Program, will be taking on these new responsibilities. In the near term, top priorities include updates to the City's Consolidated Plan, policy reviews of several OH incentive programs, and leadership for site-specific initiatives in Southeast Seattle (via a HUD Challenge Grant) and at Fort Lawton. While Miriam will also retain high-level responsibility for HomeWise, OH will soon be advertising for the now-vacant HomeWise manager position - stay tuned! 


Miriam comes to the position not only with inside knowledge of OH, but also a decade of City experience, previously serving as budget manager and subsequently finance director for the City's Finance and Administrative Services Department. Miriam previously worked as a public policy and finance consultant, with clients including the US Department of Transportation, Seattle's City Budget Office, and Seattle Parks and Recreation.


As always, Miriam can be reached at miriam.roskin@seattle.gov or (206) 684-0354.

Housing Levy A&F Plan Update

This summer OH staff will be proposing several changes to Housing Levy funding policies in the Levy Administrative & Financial Plan. The current A&F Plan covers years 2012-2013, however, during last year's budget process City Council moved $165,000 from the Administration fund to the Rental Production and Preservation Program. This adjustment requires a plan revision, which also provides the opportunity to address other issues at this time. A broader review of Levy policies will occur next year with the adoption of a new Levy A&F Plan for 2014-2016. 


OH will schedule a public meeting in June to discuss staff proposals and ask whether stakeholders have additional suggestions. Any proposed policy changes will be reviewed by the Housing Levy Oversight Committee and considered by the City Council for adoption this summer.


For more information, contact Maureen Kostyack at (206) 615-0986 or maureen.kostyack@seattle.gov.

Yesler Terrace Redevelopment Update

OH staff have been working over the past several months with the Department of Planning and Development, other City departments, and the Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) to finalize the Mayor's proposed legislation for the redevelopment of Yesler Terrace that will be reviewed by City Council this summer. 


SHA has been planning for Yesler Terrace redevelopment since 2006, and the SHA Board of Commissioners approved its final plan in May 2011. The planning process incorporated input from the Yesler Terrace Citizen Review Committee consisting of Yesler Terrace residents as well as neighborhood and city-wide stakeholders. HUD has awarded over $10 million in Choice Neighborhood funds for the redevelopment and invited SHA to apply again this year for nearly $20 million, the balance of funding available for Yesler Terrace under the Choice Neighborhoods grant program.


The Yesler Terrace legislative package includes new zoning, new and improved streets and parks, environmental mitigations, and a cooperative agreement between the City and SHA. In the cooperative agreement SHA will commit to develop replacement housing and other affordable housing to assist residents with relocation and give them an option to return to Yesler Terrace, and to provide human services, employment opportunities and other community benefits. In return, the City commits support for the redevelopment. In the proposed agreement the City would commit $7.6 million in housing funds over the next five years and $3 million for park development. The City housing funds would help produce 202 replacement housing units that would give Yesler Terrace residents an opportunity to relocate within the neighborhood.


The legislation is expected to go to City Council next month. In the meantime, the Council has begun a series of informational briefings and will eventually hold public hearing(s) on the legislative package. Stay informed on that process by checking Council's Yesler Terrace web page: http://www.seattle.gov/council/issues/yesler_terrace.htm

Find a Home You Can Afford at HousingSearchNW

HousingSearchNW.org is a free resource to help renters find a home anywhere in King County that fits their household needs and budget. Property owners and managers throughout the county can post apartments or homes for rent any time, which means that the HousingSearchNW list is always current. The website is accessible 24 hours a day, while a toll-free call center (1-877-428-8844) is open Monday-Friday, 6 a.m.-5 p.m. Interpretation in a number of languages is available through the call center. 

 HousingSearchNW logo

HousingSearchNW.org is sponsored by the City of Seattle, King County, the Seattle Housing Authority, the King County Housing Authority and the United Way of King County, and supported by the Tenants Union and the Rental Housing Association.


If property owners and landlords have a rental property that they would like to list, they can do so on the website or by calling the toll-free number.  The site host, SocialServe.com, also offers web-based trainings for case managers, social service agencies and others interested in helping clients search for affordable housing in Seattle and King County. For more information about upcoming training opportunities contact Crystal Kirby at crystal@socialserve.com

The Brighton Apartments:  Preserving and Strengthening an Affordable Community

Throughout the 1990s, the vintage-1964 X-shaped Brighton Apartments stood out as one of the toughest spots in town. The South Seattle Senior Foundation, led by local realtor and business leader Jean VelDwyk, was fed up with criminal activity scaring people away from the neighboring senior center and purchased the building in 1999. With the help of the Seattle Police Department and some highly motivated residents including resident manager and local hero Pearl McCauley, units began to turn over; the 124-unit building now operates as a lively and well-established community of seniors and their families.

Old furnace at Brighton Apartments
As old as the building itself, many
of the Brighton's furnaces were
red-tagged due to dangerous high carbon monoxide readings.


In recent years, the Foundation began to explore ways to fund vital infrastructure improvements and approached the Office of Housing's HomeWise program. The Brighton was awarded just over $1 million for a major overhaul of certain building systems, including lighting, insulation, ventilation and repair or replacement of most in-unit furnaces and hot water heaters. HomeWise committed about $500,000 in federal stimulus funding and the building's owners contributed another $360,000 with equivalent funding provided through utility incentives and other public funds.


As it progressed, the project took on a distinctly local flavor. "This project is totally about the community," says Curtis Brown, who directs the Brighton's operations. "I live about a mile away, and Chris Pfohl, the project manager, lives about two blocks from me." The project's economic benefits were very local as well. Contractor Viktor Raatz, whose business is also located in South Seattle, just across the Duwamish River, handled the insulation work. Even the new heating and hot water equipment was locally sourced, distributed by the BlueRidge Company, just a ferry ride away on Puget Sound's Vashon Island.


"The windows provided a tangible, immediate 'wow' factor," says Brown. But, he adds, other, less visible, repairs are having equal or greater impacts on the lives of the tenants. Though it is a senior building, many of the residents care for their young grandchildren throughout the day, when their parents are at work. Replacing hazardous furnaces with state-of-the-art tankless water heaters and air handlers ensured that carbon monoxide was no longer a threat to these children and their families. Insulation, air sealing, and rebalanced ventilation are also improving comfort and savings.

Brighton Apartments exterior
Replacing the 1960s-era windows provided a "tangible, immediate 'wow' factor" as residents noticed less heat escaping.


The infrastructure improvements have prompted other changes in the building, including a greater sense of vitality, community and pride in the facility. One of the resident leaders is Thomas Gibson, who happened to be Curtis Brown's teacher years ago at Seattle's Garfield High School. "People are really enjoying what's going on in the building," says Mr. Gibson. "Since the project completed I am saving money on both my light and gas bills and that's great. We (residents) are now working together to make our home more beautiful and there is no way I would want to move out of the Brighton."


"It's great to see Thomas's leadership at the building just like when I was in school," concludes Brown. "In the end the jobs created and the building upgrades were important, but seeing the difference of how people now view their home and community is so much more critical and I would love to measure the long-term impact of that."


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

Update on HUD Community Challenge Grant Work

The clock on the City's three-year HUD Community Challenge Grant began ticking as of Feb. 1. The grant, awarded in November 2011, will support an $8.9 million transit-oriented development (TOD) initiative aimed at producing and supporting affordable housing, as well as commercial and community space, around transit stations in Southeast Seattle.


The initiative has three strategies -- a TOD property acquisition program, a commercial stability strategy around the Othello light rail station, and planning for a multicultural community center -- designed to work in concert to create the essential anchors for existing communities to prosper from rather than be displaced by new development around light rail station areas. 


Staff from OH, the Office of Economic Development, the Department of Neighborhoods, the Department of Planning and Development, and a host of community partners are working to coordinate the strategies. Here's a snapshot of activity happening now and over the next few months:

  • OH consultants are conducting a market analysis of current real estate trends and potential for transit-supportive development throughout Southeast Seattle, identifying needs regarding housing choice and community preservation, and recommending goals and outcomes for a TOD Property Acquisition Program. That work, expected to be complete this summer, will lay the foundation for the acquisition program and other grant-funded activities. 
  • The Office of Economic Development is finalizing a contract with HomeSight to hire a Business Case Manager to provide direct technical assistance to locally owned businesses in the Othello business district, to begin this June. 
  • Also this summer, the Department of Neighborhoods and the Department of Planning and Development will host a large convening of ethnic communities interested in participating in the planning for a shared multicultural center.

For more information and updates contact OH's Ryan Curren at ryan.curren@seattle.gov or (206) 684-0362 or visit the project website.

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 Downtown Emergency Service Center's Aurora Supportive Housing.


Construction has progressed to the second floor.

Aurora Supportive Housing

The Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC) is constructing Aurora Supportive Housing at the former site of Cyndy's Pancake House on the corner of Aurora Avenue North and North 105th Street. This project will provide permanent housing for highly vulnerable homeless individuals with onsite supportive services -- such as mental health and medical support or substance abuse counseling -- tailored to residents' needs. 


When it opens in late 2012, Aurora Supportive Housing will have 87 studio apartments, offices for DESC staff, and amenities for residents including indoor community and dining space, a courtyard garden and a rooftop deck. The building will also contain a small street-level retail space. The location provides convenient access to three Metro bus lines, as well as the future RapidRide E Line, which will have streamlined service to downtown Seattle beginning in 2013.

DESC will work with the local Client Care Coordination Council (a consortium of government, private funders and service providers) to establish a process for identifying and recruiting prospective residents with the greatest needs. Priority will be given to individuals with long histories of homelessness who are also highly vulnerable and/or the highest users of local crisis systems, typically due to serious disabling conditions and substance use problems. Aurora Supportive Housing will be the seventh completed DESC project financed by the Office of Housing.


For more information, please see www.desc.org/aurora_supportive_housing.html.


Aurora Supportive Housing
Aurora Supportive Housing
Mayor Announces Release of Draft Investment Plan for Homeless Services

On Friday, May 11, Mayor McGinn announced the release of a draft six-year plan that lays out a new way for the City to help people in crisis and move individuals and families from homelessness to safe and stable housing.


The Seattle Human Services Department's (HSD) Draft Communities Supporting Safe & Stable Housing Investment Plan maintains the City's commitment to shelter and homeless services while proposing a gradual shift in overall funding to programs that prevent homelessness and move people into housing. The Investment Plan also asks service providers to commit to five Guiding Principles, which describe the City's expectations regarding service quality standards, the coordination of services, and improved data collection.


The draft plan is a result of a year-long community outreach effort by HSD, and the Mayor's announcement triggers the start of an additional three-week comment period.


For a copy of the draft plan, executive summary, Guiding Principles, and related documents, please visit http://www.seattle.gov/humanservices/initiatives.htm.


To comment on the draft plan, please send your written comments by 5:00 p.m. on May 31, 2012, to David Takami, Seattle Human Services Department, david.takami@seattle.gov or PO Box 34215, Seattle, WA 98124-4215.


For latest information on the Investment Plan and subsequent Request for Investment process,  please visit HSD's blog at http://humaninterests.seattle.gov.

Free Fair Housing Accessibility First Training

Design and construction industry professionals, housing developers and housing providers are invited to attend a free 8-hour Fair Housing Accessibility First training on June 6, 8 a.m-5 p.m., in the Bertha Landes Room at Seattle City Hall, 600 Fourth Ave. Fair Housing Accessibility First promotes compliance with the Fair Housing Act design and construction requirements. 


The training is intended for architects, designers, civil engineers, landscape architects, contractors, developers, builders and enforcement officials. Topics will include:


*   Design and construction requirements of the Fair Housing Act

*   Accessible routes

*   Accessible public and common-use areas

*   Practical Fair Housing Act and Washington State Building Code Accessibility compliance


For more information visit http://www.seattle.gov/civilrights/events.htm or contact John Ritzu at jritzu@lcmarchitects.com or (312) 913-1717 x228, or Michael Chin at mike.chin@seattle.gov or (206) 684-8063.


The event is sponsored by the Seattle Office for Civil Rights, King County Office of Civil Rights and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). 

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.