New developments in the ongoing debate/discussion of the Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC) proposal to build a 75-apartment building in Delridge to house homeless people living with mental illness:
9:49 AM UPDATE: City funding for the Delridge Supportive Housing project (reported here two weeks ago) was officially announced at a media event in North Seattle less than an hour ago. DESC executive director Bill Hobson (at right in the Seattle Channel screengrab above) was among those who joined Seattle Office of Housing director Rick Hooper at the event. The news release (read it here) describes the amount as $4.5 millon, a bit above the “up to $4.45 million” confirmed to WSB last month.
10:30 AM UPDATE: Also this morning, something else we had previously reported is now “official” – the December 8th Design Review meeting (here’s the notice just published in the Land Use Information Bulletin).
ORIGINAL REPORT (12:32 AM): Hooper has replied to 4 questions sent by “A Concerned Delridge Neighbor,” which “Concerned” had posted on her/his website here. Read on for the questions/answers as received from Hooper today (we were among those CC’d):
“Q” is what “Concerned” wrote. “A” is how Hooper replied.
Q: Can you provide further demographic information to disprove the apparent concentration of extreme poverty in this one area of Delridge?
A: When the Office of Housing evaluates proposed housing sites, we examine the concentration of subsidized housing for extremely low-income people, rather than the demographic information for all the residents in the area. This evaluation is required by the Council-adopted siting policy in the City’s Consolidated Plan, which has been in place since the early 1990s. The intent of the policy is to ensure that subsidized rental housing for extremely low-income people is not over-concentrated in areas outside of Downtown. It requires that we consider the number of subsidized units serving extremely low-income households (defined as earning less than 30% area median income, or $18,250 for a single person in 2011) and the total number of housing units in the Census block group. The policy limits the number of subsidized housing units serving extremely low-income households to no more than 20% of the total number of housing units in a Census block group, unless the proposed housing is eligible for a waiver under certain defined circumstances. The OH Director may grant a waiver of the siting policy if one or more of the following criteria are met:
· The proposed project is a neighborhood‐supported project. To be considered a neighborhood‐supported project, OH must determine that the proposed project is supported by a reasonable number of immediate neighbors and/or affected neighborhood organizations. Such determination will be based on review of results of the community notification process as described in the Neighborhood Notification and Community Relations Policy section (see below) including notification of immediate neighbors, consultation with established community groups, public meetings, and/or other means of community notification as OH deems appropriate. In accordance with national, state and local fair housing laws, OH disregards, in evaluating neighborhood support for the project, any opposition that appears to be based on characteristics of future residents of a project if discrimination based on such characteristics is prohibited.
· Additional market‐rate housing development is planned in the Census block group, and OH determines that the proposed project would not result in more than 20% of total housing units in the block group being subsidized rental housing for extremely low‐income households, based on an adjusted estimate of total housing units that includes units for which building permits have been issued (based on the Department of Planning & Development’s latest annual report of building permit data) or other such documentation as deemed appropriate by OH.
· OH determines that natural or manmade barriers (e.g. a bluff, waterway, or freeway) physically separate the proposed project from existing concentrations of subsidized rental housing for extremely low‐income households.
The Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing prepared for the City of Seattle, which is available on OH’s Consolidated Plan webpage, includes a thorough overview of federal, state and local fair housing law. OH’s Siting Policy is a tool for addressing barriers to fair housing. One goal is to ensure that housing for Seattle’s lowest‐income and most vulnerable populations is available throughout the City.
Consistent with local, State and Federal law, housing may not be excluded from a neighborhood based on any of the following characteristics of the persons who will live there: age, ancestry, color, creed, disability, gender identity, marital status, military status or veteran, national origin, parental status, political ideology, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, possession or use of a Section 8 voucher, or use of a service animal.
Q: Why have you provided “up to $4.45 million” for this project, when only $1.3 million was requested?
A: The Office of Housing reviews project proposals in conjunction with other public funders of affordable housing to make collective decisions that maximize the quantity and quality of affordable housing development in our community. Actual funding awards may depart from what applicants propose, depending on the availability of other sources of funds for any given project. It is not unusual for the City to provide more or less than what an applicant requests once all funding sources have been determined.
In the case of the DESC Delridge application, the non-City sources of financing were ultimately lower than the application estimated, leaving a larger funding gap. The City chose to fill this gap because this project fulfills City goals of providing affordable housing with supportive services for homeless and special needs individuals.
All City awards are “up to” amounts that maybe reduced if other sources of financing are higher than projected, or if project costs are lower than projected.
Q: How common is it to waive the requirements of the siting policy? Has it been done before, and if so, how many times? Has it been done for other DESC projects?
A: OH has granted waivers in the past, but none for DESC projects. Waivers granted since 2003 (project, agency, year) include:
Holden Street Campus Extension, Common Ground, 2003
Rainier Family Court, SEED, 2003
West Seattle Community Resource Center, DNDA, 2004 (editor’s note: this is at 35th/Morgan)
Alder Crest, Seattle Housing Authority (SHA), 2004
Rainier Vista Phase II, SHA, 2009
Lake City Village, SHA, 2009
Rainier Vista Phase II North, SHA, 2009
Yesler Neighborhood, SHA, 2010
Sand Point, Solid Ground, 2010
Q: It appears that the Office of Housing has also approved a bridge loan of $769,000 for purchase of the site by December 1, 2011. Can the Office of Housing provide a copy of the bridge loan documents that are currently being prepared?
A: At the time of your request, the process for drafting the loan documents had not yet begun, so no records existed. That process has now started and we anticipate the documents will be completed by no later than the last week of November. We will be happy to provide those records in their entirety, except any information that may be exempt from disclosure, once they are finalized.