Housing in Brief: Amazon Is Building a Homeless Shelter in Seattle

And in other housing news this week, loopholes in California’s tenant-protection laws and new climate data shows more cities than expected are in serious danger of flooding.

Amazon's Seattle campus

Amazon's Seattle campus (Credit: Amazon)

Amazon Is Building a Homeless Shelter in Seattle

Not just a homeless shelter, but the largest family shelter in Washington State.

“Mary’s Place Family Center in The Regrade” is expected to open in 2020 and fill 8 floors of an Amazon corporate building, CityLab reports. It will serve at least 275 people.

It’s not the only recent move by Amazon to make a dent in the housing crisis that many say it has caused. As Next City reported just this week, Amazon is among the many tech companies that have made big housing commitments in the past year or so.

At the same time, Amazon has opposed Seattle’s efforts to fight homelessness with a special tax and has given $1.45 million to business-friendly candidates in the city’s upcoming council election. That’s the most from any contributor by far; the second-place donor was Service Employees International Union, which has given $855,000 to races.

California Rent Control Delay Leads to ‘Eviction Window’

California passed rent control and tenant protections in September, but they don’t go into effect until January 1. That delay has led to an “eviction window,” or loophole, in which landlords have three months to evict tenants at below-market-rate rents, reports The Real Deal.

In response to the evictions, which have been occurring at “dozens” of apartment buildings in Los Angeles, the L.A. City Council passed a moratorium on evictions until Dec. 31.

The author of the rent-control bill, San Francisco Assemblyman David Chiu, decried the evictions.

In a written statement obtained by The Real Deal, Chiu said there was “no reason for landlords to evict tenants in order to skirt the rent cap” because the law “allows landlords to make a fair rate of return.” He called it “a shame that some unscrupulous landlords have chosen to exacerbate displacement and homelessness in order to make obscene profits.”

The state rent-control bill could have taken effect immediately if it had passed with a two-thirds majority in both legislative houses.

New Climate Model Shows Sea-Level Rise Will Inundate Many Coastal Cities

New research that uses a more accurate way of calculating land elevation finds that three times more people are at risk from climate-change-induced sea-level rise, and that many great world cities are at risk, the New York Times reports.

The new models show that 150 million people worldwide are living on land that will be underwater at high tide by 2050. This includes essentially all of Southern Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh City, most of Bangkok, and parts of Shanghai.

The new estimates don’t show much change for cities in the United States, because highly accurate topography data already exists for much of the U.S. It’s in developing nations where the new model — powered by a neural network — was able to refine estimates.

The findings don’t necessarily spell doom, at least not right away. The data shows that more than 100 million people already live in areas that are considered to be below the high-tide line, protected by seawalls and other interventions. Investing in infrastructure could postpone, though probably not completely prevent, the inevitable.

This article is part of Backyard, a newsletter exploring scalable solutions to make housing fairer, more affordable and more environmentally sustainable. Subscribe to our weekly Backyard newsletter.

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Tags: los angelesclimate changehomelessnessrenters rightsrent control

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