Mayor Ed Murray Releases Commercial Affordability Plan

Commercial Affordability

Today, Mayor Ed Murray’s Commercial Affordability Advisory Committee released recommendations to help ensure Seattle remains an affordable and equitable place for small businesses. The Committee, which was made up of small business owners, developers, and members of the arts and music communities, developed recommendations that build upon Mayor Ed Murray’s continued focus on affordability in Seattle, including increasing the minimum wage to $15.00 per hour and addressing housing affordability and livability through HALA.

 

“Affordability is vital to Seattle’s future. Whether it is ensuring people can make a living wage, afford to live where they work or start a business, we must address affordability from every direction,” Mayor Ed Murray said. “Seattle’s small businesses are what make Seattle a city we love to work and live in. As the city grows, we must maintain the uniqueness and high quality of life made possible by small businesses today.”

“I want to thank the Commercial Affordability Advisory Committee for their work and their recommendations,” Brian Surratt, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development, said. “The recommendations will be instrumental as we work to fulfill Mayor Ed Murray’s goal for an affordable Seattle.”

The committee’s recommendations were the culmination of collaboration between small businesses and developers.

“The interests of small business owners and developers really are aligned,” committee member and local developer Liz Dunn said. “Developers who think strategically about the neighborhoods they are working in, understand that creating space which is attractive and affordable for small businesses is an essential ingredient for good development and for creating long term value for residents and property owners.  Building spaces that feel like they belong in a neighborhood, and add character to it, create a pedestrian-friendly experience and a true sense of place.”

“Pioneer Square is a neighborhood that demonstrates how growth and small businesses can thrive together while preserving the arts and the historical legacy of the neighborhood all while paving the way for the future,” Karen True, Director of Business Development for the Pioneer Square Alliance, said. “The balance between new development in Pioneer Square and the interests of small business was a model as we developed our recommendations. I’m pleased the committee recommendations include tools for small business owners as well as property owners and developers.”

“As an immigrant and a small business owner, it is important to me that Seattle remains a place where anyone can start a business who has a good idea,” Solomon Dubie, owner of Café Avole, said. “The Commercial Affordability Advisory Committee worked hard to recommend ideas that will keep Seattle affordable for small businesses.”

The Committee made a variety of short- and long-term recommendations. Highlights included:

  • Explore a new entity focused on commercial affordability. This entity would provide support services for small businesses and small-scale building owners, including technical assistance, help navigating real estate issues and City processes, support from non-public funding resources, activation of public agency-owned property, and coordinated advocacy.
  • Institute new financial incentives. Advocate for legislative changes that would make it advantageous (via property tax exemptions and property tax assessments tied to building income) for property owners to support local small businesses. Stimulate a non-City fund that would provide alternative financing options for both small businesses and small property owners.
  • Make changes to public policy. Specifically, focus on the sale/lease of public property; affordable commercial space within mixed-use housing developments, public spaces or transit oriented properties; zoning that encourages small-scale commercial pockets in residential areas; and policies that promote a healthy mix of local, small businesses and chain/big box retail tenancy.
  • Improve the permitting process. Reduce permitting requirements for qualifying “light-impact” small business projects, strengthen design guidelines that favor small business and retail spaces, and enable greater neighborhood input on tenant selection.
  • Expand technical assistance programs. Increase or supplement the Office of Economic Development’s existing small business resources to include a third-party commercial affordability consulting team, coordinated and diversified outreach (more languages and formats), and an online “Marketplace Exchange” for the small business and property owner community.

Additional recommendations can be found in the full report: www.seattle.gov/CommercialAffordability.

Mayor Ed Murray directed his Office of Economic Development to work with small businesses, business districts, developers and other stakeholders to explore the implementation of the Commercial Affordability Advisory Committee’s recommendations.

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In the short term, the mayor immediately committed to taking action. For example:

  • King Street Station Activation
    The City will transform the second floor and plaza space of King Street Station into affordable food and retail space that will serve as an attractive gathering place for neighboring residents, workers, and travelers. Funding: $360,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds for the renovation of tenant spaces, plus possible matching funds from other sources (e.g. federal grants, foundations).

 

  • Commercial Affordability Consulting Team 
    The City will create a commercial affordability consulting team to assist small businesses and small-scale property owners with a broad range of real estate and business expertise (e.g. design of tenant spaces, feasibility analysis in renovating buildings, business plan development). Funding: at least $65,000 annually in CDBG funds.

 

  • Financial Support for Microbusinesses

    The City will assist low- and moderate-income owned microbusinesses (i.e., five or fewer employees) to overcome a critical obstacle to growth: low-cost capital. The City will partner with a nonprofit lender to provide Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) and 0% interest loans. Funding: $122,000 annually in CDBG funds for the IDA and 0% interest loan products.

 

To read the full response from the mayor including all of his action items, visit www.seattle.gov/CommercialAffordability.

The committee and the Office of Economic Development identified several pressures facing small businesses as Seattle grows. For example:

  • Space is becoming more expensive: In Seattle, asking retail rents are 7 percent higher than before the recession and 28 percent higher than their post-recession low in 2012.

 

  • Space is harder to find: Seattle’s retail vacancy rate in the third quarter of 2016 was 1.9 percent, down from a prerecession vacancy rate of 4.1 percent. Industrial vacancy decreased from 3.6 percent to 1.5 percent in the same time period. Decreased availability of commercial space across the city creates challenges for small businesses.  They are not able to find space that is suitable for small business use, and what little space that is available has experienced dramatic rent increases as a result of limited selection.

 

  • Available space is getting larger: Many small businesses need small spaces, but the size of leased retail spaces is increasing. This compounds the affordability challenge for many business owners who may not be able to find appropriately sized spaces. Among existing buildings, 25 percent have available spaces under 1,000 square feet. Of the buildings that will come online in the future (those listed as proposed, under construction, or under renovation) the count falls to 20 percent. With only 1 in 5 planned buildings renting spaces under 1,000 square feet it may become harder for small businesses to find smaller spaces.

 

  • Small businesses are having difficulty obtaining access to lending capital: When ranked in order of dollars lent per capita, the top 10 census tracts received $7,228 per capita in small business loans from 2010 to 2014, more than 30 times more than the bottom 10 tracts, which received $230 per capita in small business loans in the same time period. These bottom ten census tracts are located in neighborhoods of the city including Rainier Beach, Beacon Hill, Delridge, and Lake City, all areas with concentrations of low-income, minority and immigrant-owned businesses and households, highlighting the need to expand technical assistance programs and outreach to underserved communities.

 

Additional data is featured throughout the report.

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Mayor Ed Murray proposes an additional $12 million to implement the City’s new homelessness plan

Today, Mayor Edward B. Murray announced $12 million in new funding to implement strategies laid out in the City’s new homelessness plan, “Pathways Home,” Seattle’s Person-Centered Plan to Support People Experiencing Homelessness. This funding is sourced through a combination of new general fund dollars, additional revenue from the housing levy to support an increase to the Homelessness Prevention Program and a continuation of funding for key programs originally funded under the 2015 State of Emergency.

“By providing funding for key element of the Pathways Home Plan, I believe we can make a dramatic and visible difference in the number of people currently experiencing homelessness through a major transformation of our homeless service delivery system,” said Mayor Ed Murray.

The 2017-2018 Proposed Budget includes almost $1 million in investments that will help to create capacity to house the unsheltered families on the waitlist. These investments will fund rental assistance and one-time funding to address immediate needs to divert people from homelessness, rapid rehousing funding, as well as funding for motel vouchers for families. This also includes a $200,000 investment in domestic violence and sexual assault housing first and case management programs.

The proposed budget also includes $5 million to fund investments in new best practices, as well as to continue best practices, initially funded as part of the State of Emergency. The new investments include funding to convert an existing shelter to a 24-hour model and funding for a new navigation center, which will be a 24-hour low-barrier shelter with case management. Programs continuing from the State of Emergency investments include funding for rapid rehousing and diversion for single adults, outreach to unsheltered individuals and families, youth case management, and mobile medical van services.

To support system transformation, the proposed budget includes $1.1 million in investments for staffing and data capacity, enhancing the Coordinated Entry system and standing up the Housing Resource Center. Human Services Department (HSD) is making significant changes to their current business practices around homelessness investments, to implement Pathways Home. Performance-based contracting requires new data expertise to collect and interpret both program-and system-level data and a deeper level of expertise to actively monitor fidelity to best practice program models.

As the City transforms its homelessness investment system in coordination with All Home and King County, there is an immediate need to shelter those living in crisis outdoors.  To address this, the 2017-2018 Proposed Budget includes $2.1 million to maintain stability in shelter and encampments as system changes are made. These investments maintain the additional shelter beds and increased operating hours funded as part of the State of Emergency. The proposed budget also includes funding for a faith-based partnership to expand shelter capacity and operating support. These investments maintain stability in shelter system capacity as HSD moves toward a Request for Proposal (RFP) process for all homeless investments in 2018.

The Mayor and City Council are engaged in efforts to modify encampment cleanup protocols and examine options to provide safe alternatives to camping in public spaces, additional services and supports for people living unsheltered.  A task force has been convened to develop potential recommendations and the 2017-2018 Proposed Budget includes $2.8 million to improve coordination and outreach; increase safe sleeping locations, shelter and housing options; address public health and safety issues and the storage of belongings.

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Mayor Murray, Councilmembers applaud unanimous adoption of secure scheduling legislation

Council unanimously (9-0) adopted Secure Scheduling legislation today, adding stability and predictability to Seattle shift workers’ hourly incomes and schedules. The legislation, developed collaboratively between Mayor Ed Murray, Councilmember Lorena González and Councilmember Lisa Herbold, is intended to address retail and food service employees’ unpredictable working conditions by requiring employers to provide workers with a good-faith estimate of hours upon hiring, provide work schedules two weeks in advance, and requires compensation for workers if their hours are changed or if they’re asked to work back-to-back shifts that prevent adequate resting time.

“Seattle once again is taking concrete steps to address income inequality,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “Secure scheduling helps working families, young people, students, and workers of color by providing stability and clarity to their work schedule. I would like to thank our progressive community of businesses, labor, and to Councilmembers Lorena González and Lisa Herbold for helping create more equitable workplaces and healthier lives for workers.”

The legislation adopted today extends to retail and quick or limited food service establishments with more than 500 employees worldwide, and full service restaurants with more than 500 employees and 40 full-service restaurant locations worldwide. Among key provisions of the proposal:

  • Employers must give employees their schedules 14 days in advance.  If an employer adds hours, the employee is paid for one additional hour of “predictability pay”
  • If an employee is scheduled for a shift and sent home early, the employee is paid for half of the hours not worked
  • A good faith estimate of workers’ hours are to be provided upon hire
  • Employees have a right to decline any shift added to their schedule within two the two week notice period without fear of retaliation from their employer
  • If the gap between a closing and opening shift is less than 10 hours, an employee is entitled to be paid time-and-a-half for the difference (addressing so-called “clopenings”)
  • The “access to hours” measure requires that employers give notice and offer hours to qualified current employees of new, additional hours available before hiring additional staff.
  • On-call protections measure, whereby employees will receive half-time pay for any shift they are on-call and do not get called into work

Beginning in March of this year, City policymakers conducted extensive outreach in the business and labor community to gather information on best practices, challenges, and scheduling needs of both workers and employers. For six months, City staff led roundtables with business and labor leaders, visited workplaces, and separately met with business owners, scheduling managers and individual workers to better understand how schedules are created and the impact unpredictable scheduling has on workers’ lives.  Since March, 17 stakeholder meetings took place, and the Council’s Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development and Arts Committee met over a dozen times to review and refine the legislation.

Councilmember M. Lorena González (Position 8, Citywide) said, “For the last 10 months we have been working to craft legislation that gives workers not only Secure Schedules, but also secure incomes. As we work to make Seattle a city that welcomes workers of all incomes, all backgrounds, and in many languages, this legislation moves us closer to a truly equitable community.”

 

Councilmember Lisa Herbold (District 1, West Seattle & South Park) said, “Unpredictable work schedules disproportionately affect women and especially women of color. This legislation will provide adequate notice of schedules, the right to rest between shifts, predictability pay for additions to the schedules, and access to hours to existing part-time employees. This is an important step forward for the workers of Seattle in balancing the needs of business with the lives of workers.”
Mayor Murray and Councilmembers also felt it essential that employees retain their ability to swap shifts or accept additional hours. Under the new regulations, employers are not expected to offer one hour predictability pay when an employee requests a change to their schedule; when an employee finds replacement coverage for hours through an employee-to-employee shift swap; or when an employer provides notice of additional hours through mass communication and receives a voluntary offer to cover the available hours.

Seattle is the second municipality in the nation to adopt Secure Scheduling regulations, after San Francisco.  Several other cities are considering Secure Scheduling laws, including Albuquerque, New York City and Washington DC.

 

The legislation adopted today will now to be delivered to Mayor Murray for his signature. The legislation will take effect July 1, 2017.

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Mayor releases plan to guide growth, investments in U District

After five years of community engagement and more than 90 public meetings, the City of Seattle today released the plan for growth and coordinated public investments in the U District. As the neighborhood continues to change rapidly, today’s announcement will guide future density for affordability and livability.

“This is an exciting day for the U District as we roll out our shared vision for the future of the neighborhood,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “Over the last five years, hundreds of U District residents have contributed their opinions on how to build a more livable, walkable neighborhood as Sound Transit light rail comes to the community. And for the first time, all new development will contribute to affordable housing. Together we can shape a U District that reflects our values.”

With the Sound Transit’s U District Link light rail station opening in 2021, the City’s plan focuses future housing and employment density in areas with excellent access to the transit station.

The plan’s proposed zoning changes respond to community priorities for rigorous design standards that requires new public spaces, attractive buildings, and active street fronts. New incentives will encourage sidewalk improvements, space for social services, and childcare centers in private development. Other incentives will help preserve historic buildings and the pedestrian shopping district of the Ave.

“The University District has such a unique character – our students, faculty, and staff of the University bring a vibrant diversity to the community, and the neighborhood’s access to public transit, jobs, and local businesses make it an attractive place to live,” said Councilmember Rob Johnson. “But due to the pace at which Seattle is growing, we need to take bold and critical action to ensure that it remains an affordable place to live.

The proposed zoning changes here in the University District are the result of a four year process which has involved over 90 meetings and hundreds of participants. I want to thank everyone who, through their hard work and their feedback, has gotten us to this critical milestone today.”

As the neiaffordable-housingghborhood grows, Seattle’s new Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) ordinances will require all developers of multifamily and commercial buildings to build or fund affordable homes.

The City estimates that the MHA requirements that come with greater development capacity will create hundreds of new affordable homes. Without the proposed zoning changes that trigger MHA requirements, Seattle’s existing incentive zoning programs are projected to yield only an estimated additional 20 income-restricted homes built by private developers.

“As an organization that provides housing for low-income people every day, Bellwether is very excited to see the passage of this important legislation,” said Susan Boyd of Bellwether Housing. “By implementing MHA, we can create high quality, affordable homes for more low-wage working families in neighborhoods like the University District – close to great schools, great public resources, and rich job centers.   Funds from the MHA’s predecessor, the Incentive Zoning Program, is what made our 133-unit Arbora Court project in the heart of the University District possible. MHA implementation in the U District will expand the capacity to create affordable housing like this in the U District and across the City.”

Through the existing Housing Levy and incentive zoning programs, the Office of Housing recently has funded 182 new affordable homes the U District, 49 of which have already opened.

The University of Washington has been engaged in the plan as an active partner in the future of U District. The City and University continue to discuss their shared interests in improving connections to the new Burke Museum and the rest of the campus, expanding faculty and employee housing, creating jobs, providing additional childcare and creating a new public plaza adjacent to the light rail station.

“UW is proud to be a partner with the City of Seattle and the U District community in making this Seattle’s best neighborhood,” said UW Vice President Randy Hodgins. “The UW has sat shoulder to shoulder with City staff and U District residents to review and shape the ideas that have informed Mayor Murray’s proposal. We believe it’s the way to ensure the growth that’s coming will produce the great, inclusive neighborhood our students, faculty and staff want.”

As the neighborhood grows, the City of Seattle has made, and will continue to make, significant investments in the U District:

  • New parks and open space to serve the neighborhood, including upgrades at University Playfield, the new University Heights Plaza, the Christie Park expansion, and the future park on the Portage Bay waterfront.
  • A network of new bike lanes on 11th Ave NE, Roosevelt Way NE, NE Campus Parkway and NE 40th
  • Expanded sidewalks on NE 43rd connecting the light rail station to the Ave and campus.

“University Heights partners with the City of Seattle to ensure that everybody has a place to play, learn and grow in the U District regardless of their age, ability or economic status,” said Maureen Ewing, Executive Director of University Heights Center. “With the support of the City, we have saved our historic building from demolition, increased open space in the U District and are currently expanding arts and cultural opportunities that are accessible to all.”

The City is also expanding social service and public safety partnerships to make the U District more welcoming and safe for families and students:

  • The University District Partnership’s Clean and Safe initiative helps address vacant properties, graffiti and trash, making the neighborhood safer and more pleasant.
  • The Mayor will seek to expand his Youth Employment Initiative with the local non-profit ROOTS to build a “shelter to employment” program for homeless youth.
  • The Seattle Police Department and University Police continue to deepen their collaboration to support neighborhood safety.

“The City has played a critical role in this neighborhood’s plans for renewal,” said Kristine Cunningham, Executive Director of ROOTS. “ Once divisions and short-term thinking hampered our capacity to affect real change.  Now we are supported to combine diverse views and tackle the social, economic, and housing issues in the U District.  It hasn’t been easy, but we’ve made real progress.

Mayor Murray will transmit U District legislation to City Council next week.

 

 

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Mayor unveils new strategic plan for City’s community centers

Investments to be included in Mayor’s 2017 proposed budget

Today Mayor Ed Murray was joined by Seattle Parks and Recreation Director Jesús Aguirre and South Park community members to unveil a strategic plan calling for new investments in the City’s community centers to reduce barriers and expand access in underserved areas of Seattle.  The investments will be a part of Murray’s 2017 proposed budget to City Council this September.

“Seattle’s community centers are a vital piece of our parks and recreation system and we must ensure these spaces meet the needs of all residents across the city,” said Mayor Murray. “In my proposed 2017 budget, I will call for the expansion of community center hours, staffing and programming, and eliminate drop-in fees and make scholarships easier to attain. We must ensure that as we grow, we do so equitably, and our recreational spaces must be safe and accessible places for everyone.”

The strategic plan touches each community center in the city, including reduced programming costs and increased hours and staffing in centers where residents have fewer resources to pay for programming and fewer recreational options. A detailed summary of the proposals can be found here.

“This plan represents an opportunity for Seattle Parks and Recreation to continue our work to ensure that all of our residents have access to the great programs and facilities we provide,” said Jesús Aguirre director of Seattle Parks and Recreation Department. “As our City grows and changes, our community centers will continue to play a critical role in serving the unique needs of each community, while also serving as an interconnected system that serves the broader city. It’s also important to note that this plan is a bridge plan that will start a conversation on how Seattle Parks and Recreation will engage with and serve each of our residents in the years to come, through our community centers and our other facilities and open spaces.”

The City will provide free programming at five community centers: Bitter Lake, Garfield, Rainier Beach, Van Asselt, and South Park. The proposal also calls for Parks and Recreation to eliminate drop-in fees for activities such as toddler gyms and basketball at all community centers.

“This is great news for South Park and communities all over Seattle,” said Paulina Lopez, South Park community leader and advocate. “We have been asking for more hours at the community center to help our kids and families lead happier and healthier lives. This announcement is an exciting day for my community and I thank the City of Seattle for making today a reality.”

As part of this process, Parks will undertake a comprehensive long-term planning process in 2017-2018 for the entire Parks and Recreation system. This system-level plan will consider how to best use all assets, including community centers, pools, parks, and trails, to serve the Seattle community. This plan will build on the work of the Legacy Plan  with additional public input, and will include evaluation of the community center innovations and pilot projects.

Last year, Mayor Murray announced $47 million in Seattle Park District funding to invest in major improvements to community centers, open spaces, and facilities across the Seattle Park and Recreation system. Today’s announcement builds off last year’s investment by identifying specific proposals to develop innovative, accessible, and culturally relevant programming in the City’s community centers.

Summary of Operating Recommendations by Community Center
Community Center recommendations
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Mayor Murray and Councilmember Johnson statement on key housing affordability measure passing City Council

Mayor Ed Murray and Councilmember Rob Johnson today issued the following statement after City Council passed the residential provision of the Mandatory Housing Affordability program, which is a key provision of the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA).

“Far too many families and residents are either spending too much on housing or leaving Seattle altogether,” said Mayor Murray. “When I convened the HALA committee in 2014, I asked affordable housing advocates and stakeholders to find comprehensive and balanced solutions to our housing affordability crisis—the mandatory affordability program does this by utilizing residential development to create 6,000 affordable homes in Seattle over the next decade. Thank you to City Council for passing this historic measure ensuring that as Seattle grows, we do so equitable and affordably.”

In April of 2016, Mayor Murray proposed the residential Mandatory Housing (MHA-R) program to City Council. The proposal was approved by the Council’s Planning, Land Use & Zoning committee in early August and was passed today by full Council.

“We know that over 40,000 of our City’s households are paying more than 50% of their income in rent and that this burden is experienced even more by communities of color,” said Councilmember Rob Johnson (District 4, Northeast Seattle). “We must address this crisis with all the tools available to us, and this program has the potential to be an effective and innovative one. This bill is the culmination of years of dedication and hard work from housing advocates, social justice advocates, the development community, City staff, Councilmembers and the Mayor’s office.  I would like to thank everyone who has spent countless hours to get us to this point and recognize this legislation as an important step forward.”

 

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Mayor Murray statement on Council banning housing discrimination based on source of income

Mayor Ed Murray today issued the following statement after City Council adopted tenant protection legislation banning discrimination on income source:

“One of the key recommendations of the HALA committee was for the City to address barriers that our most vulnerable residents face when finding a home to rent,” said Mayor Murray. “The legislation we introduced this spring expanded fair housing protections for renters using subsidies or other sources of income. Thank you to City Council for approving this proposal—our seniors, veterans, working parents will now be able to use their protected benefits towards renting a home.”

In April of 2016, Mayor Murray sent a legislative proposal to City Council expanding civil rights protection to renters with legal and verifiable non-wage sources of income as one step to address the growing affordability crisis in Seattle. The proposal was a recommendation of the Housing Affordability Living Agenda.

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Mayor Murray remarks on Seattle voters approving the Housing Levy

Remarks as Prepared | August, 2 2016

“Tonight we celebrate Seattle as a City of hope.
We often hear or read that this is a city hopelessly divided…
…divided between homeowners and renters…
…between those who are economically secure and those who are struggling…
…between our communities of color and our white communities…
….and divided geographically and ideologically.

But that is not the Seattle that voted today and it is not the Seattle I know.
This is not a city divided. The city that voted today is united in the belief that if we face our challenges together, we can build a future that is equitable and livable.

We proved that by passing the largest affordable housing levy in Seattle’s history . . .putting in place a key piece of our Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda.

Because of Seattle voters coming together we will produce more than 2,000 affordable homes for more than 2,000 low-income families. And because of Seattle voters coming together we will offer rental assistance that ensures
that almost 5,000 additional families will not fall into homeless.

We succeeded because renters and home owners, low income housing advocates and developers, labor and business came together in the New Seattle Way of collaboration to build a more equitable city.

This is a city challenged by the growing problem of homelessness. We are leaning forward, listening to each other, and together finding innovative solutions. Because we believe this nation has the wealth and ingenuity to solve homelessness.

This is a city that came together to address inequities of race in our public education system by investing in pre-k.

This is a city that came together to create a more livable city by approving major investments in transit, parks and transportation.

This is a city that led the nation in fighting income inequality by becoming the first major city or state in the nation to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour.

This is not a city divided by ideology but a city united in finding practical solutions to difficult and complex challenges.

Challenges such as growth, the environment, economic inequality, open space, transportation, policing and above all race.

This is a city that has proven five times in the past two years we are a hopeful city, working together to define our future.

As I said in my Inaugural Address quoting John F. Kennedy, ‘All of this will not be finished in our first hundred days nor in the first thousand days, nor the lifetime of this administration or even perhaps in the lifetime of this planet, but let us begin.’

Tonight showed that we are up for the challenge of building a more equitable city.

And I have only just begun.”

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Murray statement on City Council committee passing key HALA proposal

Mayor Ed Murray today issued the following statement after City Council’s Planning, Land Use & Zoning committee approved a key provision of the Mayor’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA):

“I applaud the work of the Planning, Land Use and Zoning Committee for passage of the Mandatory Housing, Affordability-Residential Framework legislation that my office transmitted as part of my Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda. This legislation is a significant milestone and gets us one step closer to realizing the goal of requiring developers to build affordable housing as the city grows. I want to thank Councilmember Rob Johnson, who led the committee through careful deliberation of the legislation to ensure it helps create more affordable housing in Seattle.

“Making housing more affordable is critical to building a more equitable and inclusive Seattle, and we are tackling this challenge head on. I look forward to the bill’s upcoming consideration by the full Council.”

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Seattle, NYC Mayors Urge Expansion of Low-Income Housing Tax Credit

Seattle Mayor Edward Murray and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio are calling on Congress to expand the federal low-income housing tax credit, the country’s most successful housing program, by 50 percent.

The mayors represent two cities whose residents are among hardest hit by one of the worst housing crises in our nation’s history. Today they sent a letter to Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-UT, and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-OR, the chair and ranking member of Senate Finance Committee, urging swift passage of S. 2962, the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act, introduced  by Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-WA, and Sen. Orrin Hatch, and co-sponsored by Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-NY.  The letter has the support of twenty-two bipartisan mayors from around the country. Earlier this week, the bipartisan United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) also adopted a formal policy position supporting this critical legislation.

“The low-income housing tax credit has created 18,000 affordable homes in Seattle over the years and is a key element of our Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda, which aims to assist the tens of thousands of Seattleites who spend half their income or more on housing,” said Murray, who has set a goal of creating 20,000 affordable housing units over the next decade – a goal to which the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act would contribute roughly 8,850 homes. “It’s also a vital tool to build housing for the thousands of Seattleites who have no place to call home at all.

The City of Seattle thanks Senators Cantwell, Schumer, and Hatch for their leadership on this critical issue of affordability.”

In November of 2015, Murray declared a Homelessness State of Emergency in Seattle, seeking additional state and federal resources to address the double-digit increase of people living outside or in shelters over the prior year.

“The Low Income Housing Tax Credit is the largest driver of investment in affordable housing in New York City and across our nation. This program has been critical to the development of thousands of affordable housing units in our city,” Mayor de Blasio said. “As we push to build and preserve 200,000 affordable homes in New York City in just 10 years, I applaud Senators Schumer, Cantwell and Hatch for their commitment to expanding the tax credit and also moving to make it more flexible – and so help millions of Americans, including low-income New Yorkers, live in safe, healthy, and affordable homes. This proposed legislation creates housing and jobs. It’s straight up smart, and we urge the U.S. Congress to pass this legislation as soon as possible.”

According to New York City’s Coalition for the Homeless, there were over 60,000 homeless people sleeping in the New York City municipal shelter system. In addition, 56 percent of New York City renters pay more than one third of their income on rent and utilities – and three in 10 renter household pay more than 50 percent of their household income in rent, and are considered to be severely rent burdened.

Since its creation in 1986, the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit has helped develop or preserve more than 122,000 homes in New York City, and more than 170,290 in New York State. The tax credit has financed nearly 3 million homes across the United States. If passed, the proposed legislation would finance approximately 400,000 additional units of affordable housing nationwide over the next decade alone.

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