DESC ‘redesigning’ Delridge project after city cuts number of allowed units

(June 2011 photo of DESC Delridge project’s proposed site)
The Downtown Emergency Service Center‘s proposed Delridge Supportive Housing project is suddenly undergoing a redesign, according to documents filed with the Washington State Housing Finance Commission as part of the next round of financing DESC is seeking – and that redesign will be for a project with 66 units, not 75 units as originally proposed.

The city Office of Housing had originally granted a waiver to DESC, allowing it to propose a 75-unit project even though the amount of “extremely low-income housing” in the area was supposed to max out at 63 units beyond what it currently has. Neighborhood advocates had questioned the information on which the waiver was based – and now, according to a city document also on file with the WSHFC as part of the DESC application, it appears they had grounds for concern.

Documents from the city, dated in mid-December, say that newly available 2010 census information superseded what DESC had been working with, and that the site now could only support 66 units in this income range. This notification came just as DESC was about to submit its application for Low-Income Housing Tax Credits to the WSHFC, and since there wasn’t enough time for them to completely redo the application, they are redesigning the project right now, and expecting to submit new information by the end of this month. The documentation we just reviewed at WSHFC offices downtown includes this DESC explanation:

This late change creates both capital and operational inefficiencies. It is also driving the total development costs over the WSHFC cost limits. Our team is currently redesigning the project with a new cost estimate, and a revised development budget will be shared with WSHFC and other public funders by january 31, 2012.

We attempted to reach DESC leadership by phone and e-mail earlier today for comment, and so far have not heard back. We are still reviewing a few more documents related to this and will add any additional information of relevance.

The Delridge project first came to light last June and has since moved through stages including property purchase – $768,000 for three lots in the 5400 block of Delridge Way SW, with the sale initiated last April and closed one month ago – as well as city, county, and state financing approvals, plus the first round of city Design Review (with a second round to come, though no date is set). Our coverage of the project is archived here.

27 Replies to "DESC 'redesigning' Delridge project after city cuts number of allowed units"

  • Too little too late January 3, 2012 (5:29 pm)

    “Neighborhood advocates had questioned the information on which the waiver was based – and now, according to a city document also on file with the WSHFC as part of the DESC application, it appears they had grounds for concern.”

    Yes, and sadly neighbors who did extensive research and brought this and other valid concerns forth were publicly shamed by people who had simply not done any research.

    Those who piled on that bandwagon shouting down valid concerns, including West Seattle neighbors, the City’s Office of Housing Director as well as DESC themselves owe this community a heartfelt apology. Not holding our breath. Don’t worry.

    To show the continuing contempt for our neighborhood, DESC Executive Director Bill Hobson himself recently used the term “bigoted” in reference to Delridge neighbors on his self-aggrandizing tour in Edmonton:

    Is this respectful behavior toward a long-time struggling low-income community from a man who claims to be boosting up the poor and under-served?

    Mr. Hobson, you did say one thing that was 100% correct last summer in the Delridge Library “I don’t know Delridge at all.” That’s right.

    To call this neighborhood bigoted is one of the most preposterous statements that could be made. You clearly don’t know our history, our population, our compassion, or the hard work and advocacy of neighbors on behalf of people in need, evidenced by neighbor-initiated projects such as the DNDA’s affordable housing program, building of the West Seattle Food Bank, a hard-won, decades-long battle for our small library, a much needed playground built by 285 neighbors and volunteers in a single day, transforming Cooper School into Youngstown Cultural Arts Center where affordable housing, an alternative school for teens and the dozens of other awesome programs and non-profits co-exist to help people, provide programs for low-income children and families.

    No, this is not a bigoted community, Mr. Hobson. Those words do not describe us. You simply never listened to what we were saying. Instead you assumed we would react a certain way and you showed up with a very strong prejudice *against us*. And now you perpetuate that prejudice by spreading unkind untruths about Delridge as you promote your programs to help others. Ironic. Sad.

    Since we are the people who will be your tenants’ friends, volunteers, and neighbors “whether we like it or not” (direct quote from you) you could at least show some grace and dignity when you speak about our community. Thank you.

  • Nick January 3, 2012 (6:42 pm)

    Redesign it to Ballard or Freemont im sure all the yuppies up their would be real inviting and would love this in their neighborhood

  • mookie January 3, 2012 (7:22 pm)

    Very well stated, TLTL.
    “This late change creates both capital and operational inefficiencies. It is also driving the total development costs over the WSHFC cost limits.”
    For a project with fewer units? They’re doin’ it wrong.

  • Perry January 3, 2012 (7:35 pm)

    Well, Nick, there are lots of facilities in Fremont and Ballard that provide housing and support for people who have severe mental illnesses. Ever try to buy property up there? No wonder a non-profit agency would opt for West Seattle, where there’s more affordable property to develop. Typical bigoted comments by people who think that doing their fair share is having a playground, library, and an arts center in their neighborhood, rather than facing up to the fact that people who have mental illnesses deserve affordable housing next door to them when they have the sort of support DESC will provide. It’s hard to face up to one’s prejudice and discrimination, but this is an opportunity to learn from having your obvious bigotry toward people who have mental illnesses repeatedly pointed out to you.

  • My eye January 3, 2012 (9:33 pm)

    Well said TLTL,
    The argument has been if you oppose the DESC plan you oppose compassion to the homeless and impotent. As many who also question the location and planned implementation the issue is one of what truly helps the downtrodden rather than perpetuating a cycle and damaging a community.
    Frankly, I believe the last comment to be a threat on the “commercial” space than any true redesign.
    DESC: implement first, homework second.

  • My eye January 3, 2012 (9:40 pm)

    And quite frankly what is really insulting, is the idea where there are only 63 more units available (and 66 are being asked for) and that community is not doing enough.

  • Creekside January 3, 2012 (9:47 pm)

    Gosh Perry, I never realized that having a library, a playground and art facilities in a neighborhood, any neighborhood, god forbid even the NORTH DELRIDGE neighborhood was such a privilege. I guess I assumed that those things kind of went along with living in a city the size of Seattle. News flash Perry My Boy, Delridge only just caught up to the level of basic public services of what nearly every other neighborhood in this city has had for decades. And it didn’t come easy.

    Regardless of property values in Delridge/WS versus Fre-Llard, it appears that the DESC has played loose with Census Data, or the Office of Housing allowed them to play games and is now realizing that my god, those rubes in Delridge actually might call us out. The problem Perry is that the DESC and Office of Housing has lost the trust of many North Delridge people due to their bullying behavior and lack of openness and transparency.

    Twenty years ago this project would have been shoved into North Delridge without much questioning. Ten years ago there would have been some whimpering. Five years ago a lot of ruckus would have been raised. Finally, in 2011-2012, the North Delridge neighborhood has learned that it no longer has to be the unwanted step child of West Seattle and the city at large. North Delridge has learned to question, and anyone who believes that questioning City procedure and policy is wrong ought to go back and take High School Civics.

  • Creekside January 3, 2012 (9:50 pm)

    TLTL – Thank you for providing that link to the Canadian news paper. You are right, Bill Hobson at the DESC and Rick Hooper at the Office of Housing do owe North Delridge an apology.

  • Reasonable January 4, 2012 (12:01 am)

    TLTL – thank you for the link on the Bill Hobson interview, it gave me a chance to read your characterization of what you claimed what Bill Hobson said about Delridge. He did not state the community were bigots, he said that bigoted things were said at a community meeting – that is a huge difference. And given how you have mischaracterized the newspaper interview, I am inclined to believe Mr. Hobson’s version – that bigoted things were said at public meetings in the Delridge neighborhood about the DESC project.

    My take on it – no one wants these projects, there is a photograph in the Edmondton newspaper article of a similar project in the Rainier Valley. DESC has projects all over the city, this a city and county wide problem and must be addressed systematically, not delayed or destroyed by a bunch of NIMBYs.

  • godofthebasement January 4, 2012 (7:26 am)

    DESC has projects all over the city, but if you look at Delridge activists’ comments you would think theirs is the only neighborhood with any such project. Homelessness, addiction, and mental illness are problems throughout the city, and to help these unfortunates every neighborhood needs to do their part. Except Delridge, of course, which is exceptional among all neighborhoods in the city in having no responsibility to help solve city-wide problems.

  • JoAnne January 4, 2012 (8:48 am)

    The DESC building sites were not mandated by voters and are not needed by the City of Seattle.

    They attract non-resident, homeless drug addicts to our area and provide careers and jobs for poverty pimps and their buddies. They have done nothing to decrease homelessness in the city because they import clients.

    A city that is supposed to be broke has no business building new apartments for drug users, whether mentally disabled or not.

  • rico January 4, 2012 (9:31 am)

    Well stated JoAnne. The blurred vision from the excess sympathy of most folks in this area simply does not allow a rational look at the issue in it’s entirety.

    Everything stated by JoAnne is a factual statement untainted by “feelings”.

  • Reasonable January 4, 2012 (10:12 am)

    Ahh, Joanne proves the point Bill Hobson made in the Canadian newspaper article in his statement that there were bigoted comments. FYI Joanne, the city is not paying the bulk of the DESC project, WSHFC is. As for Rico, the entire city and county has to provide services and other neighborhoods have absorbed projects like DESC has proposed. Joanne has not made a “factual” statement but one of opinion.

  • rico January 4, 2012 (11:04 am)

    It is a well known reality that the puget sound region has more social services than most and as a result this area attracts out of town people seeking services.

    As for having to provide services, I am not sure if this area has to provide as many services as it does. Have you ever compared social service spending in this area to other areas, it is out of whack.

    Can you honestly describe any significant result these services have with respect to a decrease in homelessness and drug addiction in Seattle?

    I suppose you believe the war on drugs is money well spent too.

  • Kayleigh January 4, 2012 (11:46 am)

    Rico, please look up the difference between fact and opinion. If you and JoAnne offer up these words as “facts”, then logically you should have research to document it, yes?
    Most people associated with providing social services in Puget Sound will tell you that demand far outstrips resources and many many people go without things you take for granted.
    The increasingly nasty and irrational objections are only driving up costs, and worse, you all are making the entire community look bad. Increasing the shrillness of your opposition is not helping you.

  • rico January 4, 2012 (1:20 pm)


    I have worked in Pioneer Square for 15 years and have had many conversation with homeless folks. They readily admit that Seattle is a magnet for homelss people due to the abundant amount of services. These conversations are fact, by the way. I do not have a govt. study to make this point, but the gist remains true.

    Of course demand exceeds supply, always the case for anything free.

    Many people living subsidized lives have things I am unable to spend money on such as fancy phones, IPODS, fancy wheels on cars, 150 channels of cable etc. Just because I may have things homeless people do not does not mean I take it for granted. I defintely do not take these things for granted as I spend a hugh chunk of my life working to enable my lifestyle. It took a lot of hard work and time to get where I am and I feel that you are taking those who have put in such hard work for granted asking them to fund endless enablement programs.

    The objections posted by many on this newsite are not irrational (might be nasty, but no more so the attitude of many homeless in downtown Seattle). It is not irrational to question where govt. spends money. I think the spending on art in public projects should be questioned as well.

    And this discussion is not making our city look bad. The inability to maintain decent looking parks w/o garbage and permanent residences in downtwon is what makes this city look bad to most people in this country. I went to Vancouver BC last week, what a breath of fresh air it was compared to this city. Did not get asked for money once and the parks were nice, clean, and safe in the downtown core even w/o a significant police presence.

  • Walnut January 4, 2012 (2:33 pm)

    I love it. The classic right wing theory that if you provide any assistance for people you are enabling their need for assistance. And attracting millions of others from far off lands that need to be ‘enabled’.
    We’d all like to hide in our mansions and pretend these people and their problems don’t exist. Washington state is at the bottom of the barrel compared to other states in this country in funding and managing human services.
    All of these entities are running on fumes (i.e. Northwest Harvest which is almost solely volunteers now), thanks to our economic downturn and slash and burn mentality ridiculousness.
    Wake up people. Do good for your common man and pay it forward.

  • Reasonable January 4, 2012 (2:39 pm)

    Rico – Seattle is cutting services for the poor & homeless across the board. And now you bring up the typical argument of anectodal comments about the poor having what you do not have, again not facts but factual selection bias.

    Seattle as a city has cut services to the poor, which includes the homeless. The county has cut services to the poor & homeless. The state has cut services to the poor & homeless. As for the homeless in Pioneer Square, should we read into your comment that you are engaging chronic, public inebriates who are largely adult males in long discussion that you have alleged? If you are, that is amazing since I too have worked in Pioneer Square and these guys have difficulty in doing the type of analysis you claim here.

    There are homeless in Shoreline, Bellevue, Kirkland, Lynnwood, Edmonds, etc. — it is a widespread problem, you should get out more often.

    And yes, the level of nastiness and NIMBYism is making the city appear mean-spirited and entitled.

  • Kayleigh January 4, 2012 (3:10 pm)

    Rico, your conversations are hearsay. They are your interpretation of words said by a handful of homeless—skewed by your selective memory and pre-existing political beliefs. What’s the threshhold for having been physically in Washington State long enough to “deserve” services, anyway? Five years? Ten years? Also, the fact that other states neglect their obligations to those who fall through the increasingly porous social safety net does not require that Washington State do the same.
    Again, please show me the research that shows that homeless people have 150 channels on their plasma screen TVs in their non-existent houses. That’s quite a feat, if so. And I’m sure they’re enjoying the fancy wheels on their non-existent cars, too.
    Honestly, you guys sound like 80s Reagan reruns, almost breaking your arms patting yourself on the back for your own “hard work” while making stuff up to justify not taking care of the most vulnerable in our society.
    There are reasonable arguments against the development (which I happen to disagree with, but they are reasonable.) That somehow these people live on easy street while you are breaking your back working—-that is not one of the reasonable arguments. I guarantee you have no idea how hard their lives really are. And neither do I.

  • rico January 4, 2012 (3:23 pm)

    No argument here about my lack of knowing how hard their lives are. However, in many cases they are not trying real hard to ..

    Oh nevermind, no sense discussing things with those whose opinions are unalterable.

  • KBear January 4, 2012 (3:42 pm)

    Of course the homeless lost their homes because they didn’t work hard enough! Enough of the free handouts! We should just charge them directly for the services they consume. Then we’ll know which services to cut (the ones that aren’t being paid for!)
    Hey Rico, did it ever occur to you that if things appear better in Canada, maybe it’s because they pay HIGHER taxes and their government provides MORE SERVICES?

  • MP January 4, 2012 (7:48 pm)

    You are right!! I think many of these people who comment on this blog never step outside of WS. Being in PS you are surrounded with the reality of the situation. I work in Belltown and get where you are coming from. I hear the same things from the folks downtown. My favorite is when I was told by a housing authority worker that other states have paid for homeless to jump a bus and come here or to Portland because of the services offered. It’s a sham!
    I also agree that so many of these overspent programs totally enable people. Let’s give a drug addict a subsidized apt and hope he overcomes his addiction….. That is the biggest false reality there is. Nobody makes or made you take those drugs so why should my tax dollars go to programs that 99.9% of the time don’t rehabilitate anyone.
    Oh, and before anyone calls me heartless, spend sometime in DT or PS…. Talk to housing authority workers who have to do apt checks who are told to come back because they are smoking their crack. These are the people Rico are talking about.
    People, open your eyes!

  • datamuse January 4, 2012 (10:42 pm)

    Vancouver’s homeless problem is not negligible.
    Just cause you didn’t see it doesn’t mean it ain’t there. Just sayin’.
    MP, never been out of WS? I work in Tacoma. Try again. (While you’re at it, cite a source for that 99.9%.)

  • elisha January 4, 2012 (11:38 pm)

    1 we dont have homeless people in this area 2 there is a daycare a preschool a libary motro bus stops elemantry and middle school bus stops and 2 rustrest and 3 conveaint store at all sale alohol

  • Mel January 6, 2012 (10:40 am)

    Show of hands, how many insulting, er, advocating FOR the DESC building in this comment thread actually live in a 10-block radius of it?
    Because if you don’t, please don’t tell our neighborhood how unwelcoming we are to the poor, because you have no clue at all. And I say this as a “neutral” in the conversation.
    As the City just noted, this neighborhood already IS a poor neighborhood. And arguing for dumping even more here (because they “deserve it”?) is the argument that actually sounds kind of bigoted.

  • Creekside January 6, 2012 (11:30 am)

    Mel – Thank you. You spelled out what many posters on this thread do not seem to understand or comprehend.

  • John January 7, 2012 (1:34 pm)

    The Delridge community is already doing its fair share as a low income/low rent community. The notion that we are “not doing our fair share” by not openly embracing a half-way house filled with mentally challenged drug addicts, is laughable. If DESC gave a rat’s ass about the surrounding community and what it could possibly bear in terms of the needs of the proposed residents, they’d look for a place that, “A” has a grocery store within walking distance, “B” make sure there are a minimum amount of business’ and parks nearby to accomodate 66 mentally challenged residents’ entertainment needs, and “C” possibly look at areas often bypassed such as Laurelhurst, Seward Park, Madison, or even Madrona. Why
    DESC feels Delridge is compelling and ideal only seems to me, a resident here, a matter of convenience.

    I say again, it needs to prohibitively expensive whether thru lawsuit, political will, or simply protest and media attention. Maybe Bill Hobson would like some more public attention on his front lawn. We could certainly put 66 mentally challenged drug addicts onto buses and pay him a visit.

Sorry, comment time is over.