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Tim Burgess: Most Subsidized Housing Is In Central City

By Erica C. Barnett May 6, 2011

As we mentioned in Fizz this morning, I wasn't able to attend a meeting in Mount Baker where neighborhood activists showed up to argue against density around light rail stations last night, because I was busy arguing for density at a transportation forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters.

According to a report from the Seattle Transit Blog, the anti-density contingent focused on: Concerns that more residential development would push out gas stations and big-box stores ; worries that new residents would bring more crime; and complaints about the prevalence of subsidized housing in Southeast Seattle.

Although city planner Lyle Bicknell apparently pointed out that the only new "subsidized housing" would consist of incentives for developers to provide units affordable to people making 80 percent of the city's median income (at $48,000 for an individual, hardly "low-income" housing), that didn't stop residents from equating density to crime, traffic, urban decay, and the presence of "undesirables" in the neighborhood, STB reports.

As a timely post on city council member Tim Burgess' blog makes clear, however, the vast majority of truly "affordable" housing in the city isn't in southeast Seattle at all---it's in the downtown area. (See map above). Although the city has subsidized a scattering of developments in Mount Baker and the Rainier Valley, far more are downtown and in the Central District---belying complaints that the city and Sound Transit have targeted Southeast Seattle for developments other neighborhoods won't tolerate. You can blame the prevalence of crime in Southeast Seattle on many factors, but the city's funding of $1,200-plus new apartments isn't one of them.
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