Housing in Brief: Seattle Gets More Transparent About Its Homelessness Crisis

Also: San Francisco aims to end trans homelessness by 2027 and LA City Council votes to acquire a 127-unit Chinatown apartment building through eminent domain.

The Seattle area has the country's third-largest homeless population. (Credit: AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

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Seattle Launches Homelessness Transparency Dashboard

The City of Seattle is launching a new dashboard that will collect data to better help inform the One Seattle Homelessness Action Plan, an initiative that will provide $118 million to the King County Regional Homelessness Authority (KCRHA) to execute a strategy that will end homelessness in the area.

Among other priorities, the plan aims to identify 2,000 units of shelter and permanent housing by the end of the year, encourage greater affordable housing through new permit deadlines and partner with local businesses and organizations to better help solve this crisis.

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell prioritized this issue at the beginning of his term because of the city’s high rates of homelessness — first by declaring a state of emergency for homelessness in 2015, which was then exacerbated by the pandemic. Seattle’s history of race-based zoning has led to gaps in generational wealth that are disproportionately felt by Black and American Indian/Alaska native communities.

“Seattle residents deserve to see a plan and progress,” Mayor Harrell said in a press release.

“With a new level of transparency, the One Seattle Homelessness Action Plan was designed to display informative and important data and provide a roadmap for how the City is making progress on this crisis — today and in the long-term.”

Mayor Bruce Harrell also announced the purchase of the Dockside Apartments to help permanently house 70 individuals experiencing homelessness by this summer. The apartments will also create 22 homes for individuals earning 50% of the area median income. Learn more about the plan, here.

San Francisco Proposes $6.5 Million to End Trans Homelessness in Five Years

San Francisco Mayor London Breed has set aside $6.5 million in the city’s two-year budget to end trans homelessness by 2027, according to the Bay Area Reporter.

The initiative will be a collaboration between the city’s housing, homelessness, public health and transgender initiative departments, in addition to nonprofits that serve transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC) people experiencing (or at risk of experiencing) homelessness.

Estimates from the office indicate that up to 400 TGNC residents can experience homelessness at any given time, and TGNC San Franciscans are 18 times more likely to experience homelessness compared to the general population.

“With one of the largest TGNC populations in the country, we not only must ensure that all San Franciscans have access to housing and essential resources through continued investments, but we can show the country that we continue to be a leader in supporting and protecting our trans communities.” Mayor Breed said in a press release.

Her initiative will invest $6 million to support short-term rental subsidies, flexible financial aid opportunities and nonprofits dedicated to ending trans homelessness. The remaining $500,000 will fund behavioral health services.

The city will provide 150 long-term housing subsidies and also acquire land that will become a new Permanent Supportive Housing site for LGBTQ+ youth.

“Given our rich legacy of trans activism, San Francisco is well-positioned to lead the country and the world on ending homelessness for trans communities,” said Aria Sa’id, co-founder and President of The Transgender District. “With the continued support of city partners and the guidance of TGNC community leaders and residents, I am certain we will successfully resolve homelessness for trans San Franciscans within the next five years.”

L.A. to Purchase Chinatown Apartment Building Against the Owner’s Wishes

L.A.’s City Council voted Friday to begin the process of purchasing a Chinatown apartment building where low-income tenants are struggling to afford increasing rent costs, the LAist reports.

Developed in the 80s, the affordable housing complex had a 30-year agreement to cap rents at a price that its tenants could afford. But since that agreement expired, rent has increased by up to 30% more.

The council will take out a reserve fund loan of nearly $46 million to inspect, acquire and renovate the building. And while tenants like Annie Shaw agree with the council’s vote, landlord Tom Botz does not want to sell his building, calling the plan “beyond wasteful” and saying it would “set a bad precedent.”

Now, the council is considering eminent domain, a process that local governments have used to purchase homes where roadways or sports stadiums are later on built. But regardless, research shows that there are approximately 10,000 affordable apartments in L.A. that will have rents raised to market value by next year.

While much remains up in the air, tenant Nancy Ramirez is asking the city to act quickly. “We want them to do something more about it, not wait another year, another two years,” Ramirez told LAist. “We want them to do it as soon as possible.”

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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Solcyre (Sol) Burga was an Emma Bowen Foundation Fellow with Next City for summer 2021. Burga graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in political science and journalism in May of 2022. As a Newark native and immigrant, she hopes to elevate the voices of underrepresented communities in her work.

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Tags: affordable housinghomelessnessseattledata

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