It appears that this project DOES NOT meet the siting policy as Rick Hooper stated at the Delridge community forum. (Did the Office of Housing describe this truthfully at the public forum? I need to check the film footage.) A waiver has been granted, based on the potential construction of additional first-time homebuyer units by the Seattle Housing Authority. Did you get that? There may be some houses built in the future that would mean that this project complies, but at the moment it DOES NOT meet the siting policy.
This does not even factor in the census data that indicates that the Office of Housing is NOT COUNTING significant numbers of extremely low-income households in their assessment of this site. To recap the highlights of census data:
- 31.6% of households earn below $20,000
- Over 50% of the households earning less than $20,000 are paying more than 35% of their income for rent, and thus do not appear to be in subsidized housing
I welcome data that shows this website is wrong, but I suspect that it doesn’t exist. The lack of a real answer from the Office of Housing makes me suspect that the data cannot be disproved. They are hoping that we all just give up and resign ourselves to the concentration of extreme poverty in one small area of an otherwise fairly wealthy city.
I understand that the City of Seattle desperately needs more housing for homeless people. But I find it hard to believe that this particular project is the best use of $14.5 million of taxpayer money for housing people. We have a responsibility to hold our public agents accountable for their decisions. Good intentions do not make this a good project.
Questions for the Office of Housing:
- Can you provide further demographic information to disprove the apparent concentration of extreme poverty in this one area of Delridge?
- Why have you provided “up to $4.45 million” for this project, when only $1.3 million was requested?
- How common is it to waive the requirements of the siting policy? Has it been done before, and if so, how many times? Has it been done for other DESC projects?
- It appears that the Office of Housing has also approved a bridge loan of $769,000 for purchase of the site by December 1, 2011. Can the Office of Housing provide a copy of the bridge loan documents that are currently being prepared?
For any concerned citizens reading this post, note that time is of the essence. The property is being purchased THIS MONTH. Now is the time to raise questions, before any more money is spent on a poorly conceived project. Sometimes mistakes are made, but it’s easier and cheaper to fix mistakes earlier rather than later. We need to save our valuable public money for a project that makes sense.
If you want to read the information for yourself, the Delridge Community Forum website has posted the funding application that contains the waiver letter. You can find it in the Part 3 of the DESC Application for State Funding, pages 137-146. Also an email from the Seattle Housing Authority on page 156 that describes the possibility of additional homes being built in the future.