Until we provide significant housing at reasonable prices, minimum wage increases will only be window-dressing for the problem. Until lower and middle-income people can afford to live in the city where they work, transportation changes will not fix our traffic problems. No amount of street level interventions will fix our homelessness problem, when there is nowhere for people to live. Cost of living in Seattle is perhaps the largest, most complicated, and most important issue that the mayor’s office should address.
And yet, the mayor’s office has produced little in the way of results. The current city policies amount to demanding that landowners and developers build affordable and rent-controlled properties if they want to build at all. This, in turn, has created predictable results: developers have opted not to develop new properties, and our problem remains unsolved.
Backyard micro-homes and mother-in-law apartments are small vision answers to a very large problem. Small solutions will have little impact on the greater housing crisis, and will create additional strain on parking and transportation in the mean time.
We have proven programs that result in affordable living, such as MFTE, and programs that have given us no appreciable results, such as HALA. Through tax incentives and zoning, we can engage the major landowners and developers to help us solve our housing problems. We can do it in the areas least likely to impact local neighborhoods. We need to revisit plans that may be better options now, like high-density developments in SODO and along major thoroughfares.
I will support and enhance proven answers.
We must incentivize building of high-density housing in the right areas, and do so in a manner that we get significant housing built quickly. Until we do, the market will never catch up to the problem and reduce the cost of living for all citizens.