We will evaluate the effectiveness and implementation of the City of Seattle’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA), including its Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) policy and the 2016 Seattle Housing Levy, on racial equity and stability in affordable housing.
Seattle is influential as an early adopter and developer of public policy for livable cities across the US (notably Pittsburgh and Salt Lake City), and HALA is a novel, comprehensive approach to housing and livability. It addresses structural and behavioral considerations surrounding displacement, affordable housing, development, transportation, and zoning. Its goal is to create 50,000 new homes, with 20,000 “net new affordable units” (which cost no more than 30% of household income). In developing this agenda, the city specifically considered the impact on racial equity of policy proposals. However, there are several lacunae in the city’s strategies to achieve equity and social justice in housing that merit investigation, such as the balance between efforts to get people into housing vs. housing stability; MHA’s development goal of 6,000 new affordable housing units in 10 years (for a city that grew by 136,295 (22.4%) from 2010-18, according to the US Census), but which allows developers to pay into a fund as an alternative to building affordable units; and a static conception of opportunity-rich areas.