Advocating for affordable housing as a central component of community-based development that is based on community needs and inspiration.

Seattle is in a state of housing crisis – a legacy of racist housing policies and practices has led to a reality where homeownership is out of reach for low-income households and people of color; extreme rent increases caused by unchecked growth and investment has pushed residents further out of the city; and decision-makers categorically exclude marginalized and oppressed communities from engaging meaningfully in policy work.

Institutional oppression manifests in growing economic inequality, public health disparities, and displacement, all of which result in housing instability. As housing prices in Seattle skyrocket, homelessness rates soar and thousands of renters are unsustainably rent burdened.

Decision-makers do not represent community or low-income renters’ needs and interests, serving to increase power disparities between landlords and tenants and keep low-income communities vulnerable to housing loss and substandard conditions that significantly impact their stability, health, and safety.

While displacement is fundamentally about housing, it is also about how communities cohere together. Traditional planning efforts fail to acknowledge the role of anchoring communities of color, immigrants, and refugees around culturally relevant businesses, community centers, faith institutions and service providers. Puget Sound Sage advocates for affordable housing as a central component of community-based development that is based on community needs, assets and inspiration. 

Program Impacts

  • Shepherded ground-breaking recommendations through the Mayor's Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) that will result in 6,000 new affordable housing units as Seattle grows in density.
  • Advocated that participants of the city of Seattle’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) focus groups receive equitable stipends for a year’s worth of meetings. Eight of Sage’s allies were accepted onto the focus groups and are meeting monthly with Sage staff to receive technical support and training on housing policy.
  • Sage has been instrumental in two new Housing Levy policies changes, which are crucial wins for our anti-displacement agenda: 1.) A resolution to get the Office of Housing to start working on a housing preservation program, including tenant ownership models and land trusts. The program will prioritize areas at high risk of displacement and will include strategies to empower tenants to participate in efforts to preserve the housing in which they reside. 2.) The second policy change is to the housing levy ordinance, which will open possibilities for acquisition and preservation of existing market rate buildings that house low-income tenants to prevent tenant displacement. The levy will add $210 million allocated to the rental housing bucket and the City is adding a new $30 million loan bucket for acquisition and preservation, critical to advancing new models of community control development (Spring 2016).
  • Inclusion of new mission language for Sound Transit and first-ever requirements regarding affordable housing and transit oriented development in building future light rail in the Puget Sound area, including $20 million allocated to affordable housing for new light rail and the requirement that Sound Transit sell surplus property for affordable housing (Summer 2015).
  • Strengthened Seattle’s incentive zoning program as it applies to South Lake Union and Downtown, generating an additional $20 million or more during the current development boom (Spring 2013).