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.”


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.

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.”

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.”

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.

Construction begins on 77 new homes for homeless individuals

Today Mayor Ed Murray celebrated 77 new apartments being built to provide permanent supportive housing to homeless individuals in our city. Plymouth Housing Group’s 7th & Cherry building (710 Cherry Street) joins 127 other affordable housing buildings supported by funding from the City of Seattle that provide stable housing for people experiencing homelessness. In total, the City has funded over 3,500 homes to provide people who are homeless the stability and services they need.

“Today’s groundbreaking represents progress,” said Murray. “It is also a sign of what this City and its partners can do when we invest in strategies that work. Our ‘Housing First’ strategy works. It’s an often untold story that we’re here to tell today. Time and again, when we are able to get people into permanent supportive housing like this, it is the most effective way to help them overcome the underlying causes of homelessness.”

In January 2016, there were nearly 3,000 individuals living without shelter in Seattle. Another 3,200 people were in shelters and transitional housing at the same time. In November 2015, Mayor Murray declared a state of emergency for homelessness and proposed a number of strategies to address the issue such as increasing resources for permanent supportive housing like 7th and Cherry.  The 7th and Cherry project is supported with $7.7 million in City funds, primarily from the 2009 Seattle Housing Levy.

“The prior Seattle Housing Levies have been a critical source of funding for Plymouth’s affordable housing properties,” said Paul Lambros, executive director of Plymouth Housing Group. “Plymouth’s newest project at 7th and Cherry is one example of our response to the Mayor’s state of emergency declaration around homelessness. This project will build on our ‘housing is healthcare’ model and provide 77 permanent homes for people just leaving the streets, including medically fragile men and women.”

Permanent supportive housing provides a stable home for people experiencing homelessness along with the social services they need to succeed. The cost of one of these units is just $35 per night compared to $130 for jail, $2,000 for a psychiatric facility, and $4,000 for a hospital stay.

“For over 35 years, the City of Seattle has funded affordable housing for our most vulnerable residents,” said Steve Walker, director of the Seattle Office of Housing. “Our investments have proven results not just for the people who gain the stability of a roof over their head, but for the long-term health of our community as well.”




Murray praises new federal overtime rules

Mayor Ed Murray issued the following statement after the Obama Administration issued a new rule extending overtime protections:

“Thanks to the Obama Administration, more than 75,000 additional workers all across Washington will be eligible for overtime. These workers are entitled to fair compensation for their long hours, and this new rule is a big step in the right direction. In Seattle, we adopted a $15-per-hour minimum wage, and this move at the federal level is another important piece to address income inequality and support working families.”

City of Seattle brings Utility Discount to 10,000 more households

Today Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) Director Andrew Lofton announced proposed changes to the Utility Discount Program (UDP) to auto-enroll more than 10,000 low-income Seattle Housing Authority households. Today’s announcement puts the City on track to surpass the Mayor’s goal to double program enrollment two years ahead of schedule.

“As Seattle’s economy continues to grow, we know that economic gains have not reached all our neighbors. Too many families are still struggling to meet basic needs,” said Murray.  “This partnership with the Seattle Housing Authority will cut utility bills in half for financially strapped residents so they can manage their utility costs on tight budgets.”

“The majority of people we serve at the Seattle Housing Authority are in the very lowest income segment,” said Lofton. “The extension of the City’s Utility Discount Program to our residents and voucher tenants will make a tremendous difference in their ability to pay for basic utilities and still afford food, medications and other necessities.”

Once auto-enrollment is complete, the UDP will provide more than $10 million in utility assistance each year to SHA tenants. This will cut in half their Seattle electric, water, garbage/recycling, sewage and drainage bills. The average household benefit will be $1,030 per year.

This move is a part of Murray’s commitment to address Seattle’s growing income inequality and remove institutional barriers between services and those in need. In 2014, Mayor Murray challenged City Departments to double the number of households enrolled in the UDP from 14,000 to 28,000 by the end of 2018.

“I would like to thank SHA for providing a place to stay and the Mayor for giving those of us living in subsidized housing the opportunity to participate in the Utility Discount Program,” said Ed Frezier, a resident at Rainier Vista in South Seattle. “I am on disability and have a limited income. After I pay my bills, the lights, phone, water, there’s nothing left.  This will leave me with a few dollars to buy groceries and whatever else is needed. It’s a blessing.”

After legislation to enact today’s proposal is approved by the Seattle City Council, all income-eligible households of Seattle Housing Authority will be notified that they have been auto-enrolled in the Utility Discount Program, beginning August 1, 2016. All households will have the opportunity to opt out of the Utility Discount Program if they prefer. The Council will take up this proposal this spring. Current City ordinances prevent SHA tenants from participating in the program.

The Utility Discount Program offers a credit of 60 percent on Seattle City Light bills and 50 percent on Seattle Public Utilities bills. This program is available for residential City Light and Seattle Public Utilities customers only and does not apply to residences used for business purposes. Eligible households must have income of less than 70 percent of state median household income, about $60,000 for a family of four.

Today’s expansion of the UDP to SHA tenants is paid for by all utility customers. The average Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utilities bill will increase between 0.5 percent and 0.65 percent in coming years.

“This auto-enrollment program change supports people in need and minimizes bureaucracy.  This is truly government at its best,” said Councilmember Lisa Herbold, who represents the West Seattle and South Park communities.  “Thousands of low-income Seattleites will no longer need to choose between keeping the lights on and putting food on the table.  I’m fully committed to expanding access to the UDP program even further.”

“Having light, heat, and water are basic needs that every resident should have,” said Council President Bruce Harrell. “As a compassionate City, we have demonstrated our commitment to helping our residents by continually improving one of the strongest utility discount programs in the nation.”

“I have strenuously advocated for auto-enrollment into the Utility Discount Program. Studies show auto-enrollment results in systematically greater access,” said Councilmember Kshama Sawant, chair of the Energy and Environment Committee. “I am grateful to Kelly Enright at Seattle City Light for tirelessly working on this. Even after this step, there will still be thousands of others who will need to be enrolled, and I look forward to continue working with City Light and the Mayor’s office.”

This program expansion builds upon a partnership with the Washington State Housing Finance Commission to auto-enroll eligible households of other affordable housing projects, reducing administrative barriers to utility discount services.

Ray Hoffman, Seattle Public Utilities Director, Larry Weis, Seattle City Light General Manager and CEO, and Catherine Lester, Human Services Department Director, were also in attendance at today’s event.

The UDP program is funded by both Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utilities and is administered by the Seattle Human Services Department. Utility Discount Program eligibility information and application materials can be found here.


Mayor Murray releases 20-year growth plan for Seattle


Mayor Ed Murray today transmitted his proposal to update Seattle’s 20-year Comprehensive Plan to the Seattle City Council. Seattle 2035 focuses on equitable growth as Seattle expects gain 120,000 residents, 115,000 jobs, and 70,000 housing units over the next two decades.

“Seattle is one of the fastest growing cities in the nation and while this growth provides a booming economy, we must continue to focus that development in livable, walkable neighborhoods with the amenities that help people thrive,” said Murray. “With this comprehensive plan, we will build a more equitable future for all residents with better access to the affordable homes, jobs, transit, and parks that make Seattle vibrant.”

Development of Seattle 2035 has been ongoing since 2013. The final proposal was informed by thousands of comments, 57 public presentations and 2,600 people participating in public meetings.

Seattle 2035 includes goals and policies, including those that:

  • Guide more future growth to areas within a 10-minute walk of frequent transit
  • Continue the Plan’s vision for mixed-use Urban Villages and Urban Centers
  • Monitor future growth in greater detail, including data about racial disparities
  • Increase the supply and diversity of affordable housing consistent with the Mayor’s Housing Affordabibility and Livability Agenda (HALA)
  • Update how we measure the performance of the city’s transportation and parks systems
  • Integrate the City’s planning for parks, preschool, transit, housing, transportation, City facilities and services

Seattle 2035 incorporates principles of the City’s Equitable Development initiative and new policies in almost every element of the plan specifically identify ways in which the City can reduce the risk of displacement for marginalized populations and improve their access to opportunities.

The policies in the plan governing industrial lands remain relatively stable. The mayor has begun a series of conversations with industrial and maritime stakeholders to develop new supports for their industries while balancing other pressures on land use in the City.

The plan and related legislation will be introduced to the Seattle City Council’s Planning Land Use and Zoning committee, chaired by Councilmember Rob Johnson, later this month.

Seattle 2035 represents years of work by so many here at the City and also reflects the feedback of thousands of Seattle residents,” said Councilmember Johnson. “The City of Seattle has always used the Comprehensive Plan to set ambitious goals related to sustainability, and I am so glad to hear that this update reflects a similar degree of ambition to combat Seattle’s equity and affordability crisis. I look forward to seeing the final plan and bringing it before my fellow Councilmembers.”

Seattle is required by Washington State’s Growth Management Act to periodically update its Comprehensive Plan. The last major update of the plan was in 2004. Seattle 2035 is consistent with State and County growth policies.

In 1994, Seattle’s first Comprehensive Plan was approved. The 1994 Comprehensive Plan was based around an Urban Village strategy. The Urban Village strategy designated certain neighborhoods as Urban Centers or Urban Villages and encouraged the development of new housing, jobs, and transit options within these areas. Over the past 20 years, about 75 percent of new housing and jobs have located in Urban Villages or Urban Centers, consistent with the Comprehensive Plan.

U.S. Supreme Court will not review Seattle minimum wage law

Today the United States Supreme Court announced that it would not accept review of the unanimous decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals refusing to halt full implementation of Seattle’s $15 an hour minimum wage law.

“Today’s decision by the Supreme Court reaffirms that Seattle workers’ hard-fought raises in hourly pay will remain in effect,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “This is a great day for workers in Seattle as we look to continue to fully implement our $15 minimum wage for our largest employers by 2017 and 2021 for our smallest businesses. Our phased-in approach to raising wages, developed by labor and business working together, minimizes disruptions—especially to our small businesses which are the backbone of Seattle’s vibrant economy. I am proud that Seattle’s ground-breaking approach to addressing income inequality will continue to move forward.”

“I am pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court let the Ninth Circuit’s ruling stand and that we have prevailed at every stage of this lawsuit,” said City Attorney Pete Holmes.

The Ninth Circuit had affirmed an earlier ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Richard A. Jones, denying the International Franchise Association’s motion for a preliminary injunction.

The effect of today’s decision by the Supreme Court is that Seattle’s minimum wage law can continue to be fully implemented as scheduled.

Workplace poster (English)

Workplace poster (Spanish)