Mayor wants to reevaluate Seattle's affordable housing incentives

SEATTLE - With an increase in building permits and housing projects city-wide, Mayor Mike McGinn said now is the time to reevaluate what's worked and what needs to be worked on so Seattle remains a place where people of all ages and income levels want to live.

To help do that, McGinn shared his plan to create an advisory group to review the city's affordable housing incentive programs for new development during a press conference Friday morning.

"We will bring together members of the community to look at how we can best meet the growing demand for housing, bringing the public and the private sector to help provide affordability," McGinn said in a statement.

News of the advisory group comes as the city considers plans for a rezone in South Lake Union, which if approved would require developers to include affordable housing incentives in their plans.

The Mayor said he wants the advisory group to look at whether that contribution from developers should come in the form of dollars or by incorporating more affordable housing units into an actual project.

Downtown Seattle was the first neighborhood in the city to offer an incentive rezone in 2006. But, economic times have changed since then and it's time to review Seattle's affordable housing incentives, McGinn said.

The advisory group will be appointed by the mayor and his office, and will include community members, affordable housing providers, developers and staff from the Department of Planning and Development and Office of Housing.

The goal, within the next year, is for the group to provide strategic guidance to the city and the mayor on Seattle's affordable housing incentive programs and the renewal of the Multi-Family Tax Exemption.

The Mayor's Office plans to announce members of the advisory group in the next few weeks. McGinn said input from the group will help drive legislation and policies surrounding the future of affordable housing and development in Seattle.