Seattle Displacement Coalition responds today to CM Herbold’s and Mayor Durkan’s anti-displacement strategies
The Seattle Displacement Coalition is a 42-year-old housing and homeless advocacy group and for the better part of those years we’ve been pushing especially our locally elected leaders to do more to combat displacement. No agency or organization has so consistently fought to address the on-going loss of our city’s existing unsubsidized affordable housing stock. And we’ve had many successes along the way, but one thing has eluded us – securing passage of a effective measure that holds developers accountable to replace the hundreds of existing affordable units they demolish each year “one for one” and at comparable price.
In a just released five page press statement, Mayor Durkan announced she was launching a new anti-displacement effort in the form of an “Executive Order”to stabilize low income and minority communities in the face of runaway displacement in our city. But despite the five pages of verbiage which essentially repeats current inadequate efforts, there is only one new initiative she is proposing: a “community preference policy” giving preference and access to displaced neighborhood residents into publicly subsidized low income housing built in neighborhoods where they were displaced.
While this is a small step in the right direction to ensure at least a small fraction of those displaced in Seattle have first priority for the city’s limited supply of subsidized low cost units, it will do nothing to stop the dramatic loss of existing unsubsidized older lower income rentals due to runaway development and market forces here in Seattle. Every year, over 500-1000 existing unsubsidized units are destroyed each year by developers demolishing to make way for luxury and market rate development. And when an area is upzoned, speculation and turnover of lower priced existing rentals by developers drives rents up forcing out another 1000-2000 existing low cost units each year, forcing these households from their homes.
Our City Council and Mayor are on the verge of substantially upzoning all our neighborhoods which will set in motion – further encouraging these trends – and an even more dramatic loss of existing naturally occurring unsubsidized units in our city. These losses – are destroying 3-4 times the number of subsidized units we are creating in this city causing even more displacement. It cannot be offset by simply guaranteeing a few of these folks priority for the few subsidized units that become available each year in their neighborhood. Many more times that number are being forced out by developers.
There is a tool we should have implemented a long time ago that could stem displacement – require developers to replace 1 for 1 any low cost units they remove and at comparable price. CM Herbold is proposing such a policy and if implemented now – before upzoning our neighborhoods with the HALA-MHA plan. It would be groundbreaking and the first real solution to the problem of displacement proposed in years and it would truly and fundamentally make a dent in displacement and gentrification sweeping our city. It would hold developers responsible to replace what they destroy “and one for one”.
Here are excerpts directly from CM Herbold’s recently released press statement describing her proposal and responding to Durkan’s press event (all the follows are quotes of hers):
Councilmember Lisa Herbold to Introduce Anti-Displacement Ordinance