Is the mayor’s plan for ending homelessness wrong?

Ed Murray’s plans to invest heavily in rapid rehousing are troubling. (Wikipedia)

Ed Murray wants to spend tens of millions more on rapid rehousing, but a new study shows it doesn’t work 60 percent of the time

What is the highlight of Mayor Ed Murray’s latest plan to solve Seattle’s homelessness crisis? Put a lot of money into rapid rehousing.

Yet, in October 2016, the first independent, long-term study of rapid rehousing—basically another name for short-term housing vouchers— found that the strategy has serious flaws. Vanderbilt University Professor Mary Beth Shinn, the study’s co-author, says “In a [housing] market like Seattle’s, I don’t think [rapid rehousing] will help lead to long-term stability for [homeless] families.”

Shinn’s findings contradict an earlier report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and call into question Murray’s plans.

Murray’s human-services officials argue, however, that Seattle is getting better results than found in Shinn’s study. In addition, they stress that rapid rehousing in only one program in Seattle’s continuum of care.

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Posted in Affordable Housing, City Hall, Election 2017, George Howland articles, Homelessness, Housing Preservation, Politics

Even Raging Grannies Can’t Convince Council to Do the Right Thing in Downtown/South Lake Union Rezone

Guest Column by Susanna Lin

It’s a disappointing day for Seattle when the City Council can’t raise the affordable housing requirements for Downtown/South Lake Union developers from 2 to 5%, when other cities with “Mandatory Incentive Zoning” programs set aside 10-30% of their units as affordable. In a time when a record number of people are sleeping on the streets, most of our City Council voted on Monday to give corporate developers, the wealthiest of all city developers and rich enough to build in these areas, a virtual free pass on affordable housing requirements.

The recently enacted incentive zoning program in Seattle is called Mandatory Housing Affordability or MHA.  It gives developers an “incentive” (more potential profit) in the form of extra developable height in exchange for a mandatory requirement that developers set aside some of their units as affordable or pay an in-lieu fee towards affordable housing.  This mandatory requirement only is applied in areas affected by the rezone.  (Lots of technical speak, I know, but keep reading!)Screenshot 2017-04-11 at 10.58.13 PM

During the Full City Council meeting on Monday regarding the Downtown/South Lake Union rezone, Councilmember Lisa Herbold introduced an amendment to try and increase the minimum affordable housing requirement from 2 to 5% of units that developers would have to set aside as affordable.  Still far below other cities with similar programs.  Her amendment would have applied the same formula to the Downtown/SLU rezone as is being applied to the rest of the city.  But only Councilmember Kshama Sawant supported Herbold’s amendment. Once this was disposed of, the full Council then voted 9-0 to approve the upzones.

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Posted in Affordable Housing, City Hall, Density, Neighborhoods, Politics, Uncategorized

Councilmember Rob Johnson is misleading the public about upzones


Johnson’s new law will intensify demolitions and displacement. (Alex Pedersen)

Northeast Seattle’s city councilmember twists truth to support irresponsible policies

by Alex Pedersen

Do you recognize this bulldozer? It’s hard to tell because there are so many rumbling in Northeast Seattle these days. (It’s the one on NE 50th and Brooklyn).

Seattle leaders should prevent demolitions and displacement. Instead, our local government officials — led by Councilmember Rob Johnson — have been spending an enormous amount of time and taxpayer resources to quickly implement polices that will benefit their for-profit developer campaign donors and intensify demolitions and displacement.

Councilmember Johnson’s recent Op Ed entitled “U District leads the way in citywide rezone effort” was misleading and irresponsible. Johnson, who was elected to represent Northeast Seattle in “District 4”, was not only celebrating his efforts to enact a law massively upzoning the U District but also giving notice to the rest of the city that he plans to upzone their neighborhoods, too. Disturbingly, many of his statements lauding the upzones were false.

In this troubling era of government officials spreading alternative facts to push their agendas and confuse communities, Johnson’s twisting of the truth must be corrected.

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Posted in Affordable Housing, City Hall, Density, Homelessness, Housing Preservation, Neighborhoods, Protest, University District, Upzoning

Support CM Herbold’s amendment to increase developer’s affordable housing requirement in SLU and Downtown – your calls/emails to other CM’s are needed now

On Monday April 10th, 2pm a vote is scheduled:  don’t let developers get away with inclusion of only 2.1 percent of their units at affordable rents – support Herbold’s amendment raising it to 5%! 


Lisa Herbold asks developers to pay their fair share

On Monday April 10th, 2pm the full City Council is scheduled to approve an upzone in South Lake Union and Downtown generating a multi-million dollar windfall for developers.  Under the Mayor’s ‘HALA’ proposal however, the developers ‘mandatory housing obligation’ will only require them to set aside a handful of units at so called affordable rent levels – as low as 2.1 percent of the units they build or the equivalent in an ‘in-lieu of’ fee. Councilmember Herbold’s amendment would raise the requirement to 5% – still small but a substantial increase over the current proposal.  This one change would ensure developers downtown and in SLU provided an additional 500 affordable units and another $40 million in ‘in-lieu of’ fees.  The City’s own consultants show developers easily can meet the additional requirement while still walking away with a healthy return.  Is it too much to ask that developers assume a greater share of the cost of replacing housing their projects remove and finding housing for those who are displaced and gentrified out of their homes to their projects?

If you are able to come to the Full Council meeting on the 10th, 2pm in Council Chambers and give  public testimony, that would be great, too.  But whatever you do, and do it now if you can….

Contact: Debra Juarez District 5 206-684-8805 and Bruce Harrell District 2  206-684-8804 Sally Bagshaw, District 7 206-684-8801 Mike O’Brien, District 6 206-884-8800 Tim Burgess, Position 8 206-684-8806 Lorena Gonzalez, Position 9 206-684-8802 Lisa Herbold , District 1 206-684-8803   Kshama Sawant, District 3 206-684-8016 Rob Johnson, District 4 206-684-8808 Council Website: 

See CM Herbolds blog for more info: And this Seattle Fair Growth post for more background:

Posted in Affordable Housing, City Hall, Density, Politics, Uncategorized, Upzoning

Words repeated often enough can change the growth debate whether true or not

Screenshot 2017-04-04 at 12.25.22 PM - Edited

Percent of city’s land zoned single-family: 35.4%   source: Land Use Appendix, Comp Plan

Many city leaders, the planners representing them, and pro-upzone, pro-developer interests have put communities on the defensive by reframing the debate and mischaracterizing those who stand in their way

Needless to say, it’s a tried and true political technique.  Repeating a big lie over and over again until it’s embedded irreversibly into the public subconscious; conventional wisdom that “everyone knows is true”.  However false a phrase or even use of a word may be in describing something, when repeated often enough in print or in settings by those that can command a stage, it can irrevocably alter the storyline helping either to perpetuate the status quo or “make change imaginable and urgent”.

In his masterpiece of political cynicism written over 500 years ago, “The Prince,” Machiavelli told rulers that “occasionally words must serve to veil the facts.  But let this happen in such a way that no one become aware of it; or, if it should be noticed, excuses must be at hand to be produced immediately.” (source here)

Developers and their “urbanist” apologists, our Mayor, and most at City Hall now on an “upzoning” binge certainly have taken these words to heart.

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Posted in City Hall, Density, Neighborhoods, Politics, Upzoning

Wounded anti-Milo protester speaks


Protesters outside Milo’s talk at the University of Washington (

Radical unionist gets married in hospital, still supports the right to bear arms and wants restorative justice, not prison, for his shooter

On Jan. 20, Hex (a pseudonym), 34, a member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), was shot at a demonstration at the University of Washington protesting the appearance of Milo Yiannopoulos, an alt-right speaker and writer who was formerly a senior editor at Breitbart News. On March 28, The Seattle Times reported, Elizabeth Hokoana, 29, “shot the protester because she believed her husband, Marc Hokoana, was in imminent danger of death or serious injury.”

Earlier, on March 4, Hex gave his first interview about the incident, his philosophy and his recovery to Mind Over Matters, a public affairs program on KEXP 90.3 FM, hosted by Mike McCormick. The following article is an edited version of that interview.

Hex says that during his hospital stay, he married his boyfriend partner. He adds that he still supports the Second Amendment’s right-to-bear arms, although he himself does not carry a gun. And he also explains why he does not want his shooter to go to prison, but hopes to achieve “restorative justice” by entering a dialogue with his attacker.

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Posted in Anarchism, George Howland articles, Politics, Protest, Resistance

You’re invited: University District small businesses host fundraiser to “Save the Ave” Friday March 31st 6pm, Big Time Brewery


Affordable housing and longtime small businesses on ‘Ave’ threatened by upzones

Group secures six-month delay in upzone of University Way – fundraiser will help pay for study of impacts on small businesses and to come up with solutions that prevent small business displacement

Join us for a fundraising party to “Savethe Ave” on March 31st, this Friday, at the Big Time Brewery, located at 4133 University Way NE, Seattle, WA 98105, starting at 6pm. The newly formed UDistrict Small Business Group will be launching their new GoFundMe campaign to save the ‘Ave’ featuring signature beer, fabulous food, a raffle, and a damn good time.  Proceeds to help fund a unique study to clearly identify how small businesses and the historic character of the Ave would be affected by upzoning and what can be done about it. For more on their efforts and how you can help them out, come to the event Friday at the Big Time, and go to their website here:  or email/call us at 206-632-0668
Posted in University District