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King County Executive
Dow Constantine


Executive signs legislation to invest $87 million in workforce housing around transit stations

Summary

More than 1,000 units of affordable workforce housing will be created over the next five years around Sound Transit and King County Metro transit stations, with up to $87 million from the sale of bonds backed by future lodging tax revenues.

Story

Executive Constantine signing the bill at a table.

Executive Constantine is joined by State House Speaker Frank Chopp, Kent Mayor Suzette Cooke, King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove, and local housing advocates.

With rents and housing prices out of reach throughout the region, King County Executive Dow Constantine today joined with County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove and housing advocates to sign legislation to invest up to $87 million for creation of more than 1,000 units of affordable workforce housing near new or existing transit stations.

"Today, we celebrate landmark legislation to create vibrant, mixed-income neighborhoods with affordable housing near transit centers," said Executive Constantine. "It's an innovative approach to connect more communities across King County to jobs and opportunity." 

The Metropolitan King County Council on Monday adopted legislation accepting the Executive’s Transit-Oriented Development Bond Allocation Plan, while nearly doubling the $48 million originally proposed for the program. The bill-signing took place at Highline College, near the Kent-Des Moines Link light rail station slated for opening in seven years.

“Creating and supporting diverse, vibrant, mixed-income communities served by high-capacity transit is an important step in addressing our affordable housing crisis,” said King County Council Chair Joe McDermott. “I am pleased to act fast, making it possible to build new projects before land in transit corridors get even more expensive.”

“King County is facing a housing affordability crisis. We must build as much housing as possible as fast as possible,” said Council Budget Chair Dave Upthegrove. “I am excited to see how these funds will be used to integrate housing with light rail in South King County.”

Hundreds of affordable housing units within a half-mile of transit centers 

The adopted legislation calls for the County to issue a total of up to $87 million in bonds, to be backed by future hotel/motel tax revenues, for construction or preservation of hundreds of housing units within a half-mile of new or existing light rail or train stations operated by Sound Transit, or RapidRide, or Bus Rapid Transit stations operated by King County Metro Transit:

  • Countywide: $32.3 million for projects with nonprofits and partner agencies
  • I-90 Corridor: $10 million for projects near transit stations along the I-90 Corridor between Issaquah and North Bend
  • Northgate: $10 million for a project or projects at the Northgate Transit Center
  • South County: $10 million for projects near the Des Moines or Federal Way transit stations
  • Eastside: $10 million for projects near Bel-Red Corridor transit stations

Seattle South Downtown: $14.7 million total, of which $8.7 million would be dedicated to the Historic South Downtown Public Development Authority, $3 million for the Pacific Tower affordable housing project, and $3 million for affordable housing near Othello Station.

“This is an incredibly robust and intentional plan that will allow the County to address the urgency and scale of today’s crisis and strategically invest in creating equitable communities for years to come,” said Kelly Rider, Director, Government Relations & Policy at the Housing Development Consortium Seattle - King County. “By providing affordable homes near transit, this Plan will cut household expenses for low-income people, reduce traffic congestion, and ensure families can spend more time together rather than stuck in traffic.”

The program builds upon the Transit Station Housing and Development Initiative launched by the Executive in September. In early 2015, the state Legislature passed the Workforce Housing Bill, which gives the County the ability to issue bonds, backed by revenues from a portion of the hotel/motel tax that will become available in 2021, to help finance workforce housing within a half-mile of a transit station.

Up to $15 million from the countywide pool of funds are set to be awarded this year as part of the County’s annual Housing Request for Proposals, which will be published by the end of next week.


Quotes

Today, we celebrate landmark legislation to create vibrant, mixed-income neighborhoods with affordable housing near transit centers. It's an innovative approach to connect more communities across King County to jobs and opportunity.

Dow Constantine, King County Executive

Creating and supporting diverse, vibrant, mixed-income communities served by high-capacity transit is an important step in addressing our affordable housing crisis. I am pleased to act fast, making it possible to build new projects before land in transit corridors get even more expensive.

Joe McDermott, Chair of the King County Council

King County is facing a housing affordability crisis. We must build as much housing as possible as fast as possible,” said Council Budget Chair Dave Upthegrove. “I am excited to see how these funds will be used to integrate housing with light rail in South King County.

Dave Upthegrove, King County Councilmember

Transit oriented development is critical to enhancing the livability and accessibility of our community and makes the most out of the investment King County citizens have made in building a regional transit system. Maximizing this redevelopment with options for low- and middle-income working families is essential to ensure these and other families are not forced from the city, but instead have easy connection to their home, workplace, and all the region has to offer.

Jeanne Kohl-Welles, King County Councilmember

This major new investment in affordable housing reflects the compassion and creativity that King County is bringing to this challenge. I’m pleased that these new funds will support veterans, families, and the poorest in our community. Trying new approaches like microhousing demonstrates the County’s creativity and innovation. I look forward to seeing these new homes built as soon as possible.

Rod Dembowski, King County Councilmember

As we continue to expand our regional transit system, we have a tremendous opportunity to partner with cities and the private sector to provide affordable housing for a wide range of working people and families who are being priced out of our current hot housing market.  I was proud to sponsor this motion which will provide $87 million in resources to build a number of affordable transit-oriented housing projects, including a major investment at an Eastlink light rail station being built in the Bel-Red corridor.

Claudia Balducci, King County Councilmember

For more information, contact:

Frank Abe, Department of Transportation, 206-263-9609


King County Executive
Dow Constantine
Dow constantine portrait

Read the Executive's biography