Low Income Housing & Affordable Units - What & Why

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What's Happening Now?

In July 2023, Mayor Harrell signed Ordinance 126855 an “omnibus” bill that made several corrections and changes to Seattle’s Code. This is an important step to help make permitting low-income housing as predictable and efficient as possible, helping maximize new affordable rental and homeownership options for low-income buyers, including housing with access to services.

Along with Ordinance 126854 (July 2023), this omnibus legislation helps streamline permitting with an exemption from Design Review and flexibility in the application of certain development standards. This will apply to all publicly funded housing for income-eligible individuals and families and Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) onsite housing performance projects.

A SEPA Determination of Non-Significance was published on April 20, 2023.

Project Benefits

This legislation:

  1. Deletes obsolete and redundant code phrasing and definitions related to affordable housing and eligible residents
  2. Updates the definition of “low-income housing,” and add new unit-specific definitions for “low-income unit,” “moderate-income unit,” and “restricted unit”
  3. Simplifies and increases consistency of housing affordability provisions by using those defined terms, as applicable, throughout Title 23
  4. Expands design review exemption and authorization to request a waiver or modification of certain development standards currently allowed for “permanent supportive housing” to include all “low-income housing”
  5. Increases consistency of standard provisions for developments with units subject to housing affordability restrictions
  6. Consolidates all affordable housing-related provisions of incentive zoning in downtown zones in SMC Chapter 23.58A
  7. Simplifies and improves clarity of code provisions related to restricted units, which are residential units subject to restrictive housing covenants recorded on the property title, including those in otherwise market-rate buildings

The End Result

The legislation provides a comprehensive update of Title 23 provisions related to low-income housing, as well as market-rate developments that have a small share of units with affordability restrictions. These land use code updates will allow more efficient permit review of affordable housing development to address urgent housing needs.

Construction and Inspections

Nathan Torgelson, Director
Address: 700 5th Ave, Suite 2000, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 34019, Seattle, WA, 98124-4019
Phone: (206) 684-8600
Phone Alt: Violation Complaint Line: (206) 615-0808
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SDCI issues land use, construction, and trade permits, conducts construction and housing-related inspections, ensures compliance with our codes, and regulates rental rules. SDCI is committed to an antiracist workplace and to addressing racism through our work in the community.