City Hall

Housing Authority Will Have to Compete for Funds Under Yesler Terrace Deal

By Erica C. Barnett August 16, 2012

As we mentioned in On Other Blogs earlier, a city council committee approved the Seattle Housing Authority's massive redevelopment of the Yesler Terrace public housing project this morning. (The proposal, which some low-income housing advocates argues didn't do enough to replace very low-income housing for current Yesler Terrace residents, now goes forward to the full council).

One big concession from SHA that hasn't gotten a lot of play: An amendment, sponsored by council member Nick Licata, that will require SHA to compete for city housing levy funds through the same process, known as a Notice of Funding Availability, as every other housing provider.

The new rules will apply only after SHA spends the $7-plus-million in housing levy dollars it has already received from the city. Under the NOFA process, the city can consider whether a project creates new affordable housing, rather than replacing existing affordable housing. SHA argues that replacement housing is an appropriate use for levy funds.

Initially, Licata wanted an amendment that prohibited SHA from using any housing levy funds for replacement housing; under the compromise, they'll have to compete with other providers for housing levy funds to build replacement or new low-income housing.

"Was SHA OK with it? For the most part, yes," Licata says. "They weren’t offering these amendments and they weren’t standing up and applauding. but in the end, they went along with it, because it was structured in a way that they found it difficult to object to."
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