October 28, 2019

Seattle Policy Updates: Surplus Publicly Owned Lands and Equitable Development

El Centro Early Learning

Affordable homes will soon be developed on surplussed publicly owned lands thanks to state legislation passed in 2018, and Seattle's Equitable Development Initiative provides a new model for funding community development.

Enterprise’s policy efforts lead to new housing on city-owned property

Passed in 2018, Washington House Bill 2382 is now enabling municipalities across the state to mitigate the increasing costs of producing affordable housing by surplussing publicly owned land. Last month, Seattle became the first city to use this critical tool, as Mayor Jenny Durkan announced the transfer of land previously owned by Seattle City Light to nonprofit developers.

Kathleen Hosfeld, executive director of Homestead Community Land Trust, which in partnership with Edge Development will build affordable homes on the land, said, “Our development will create 19 homes with reduced prices so that they are affordable to the everyday heroes of Seattle whose incomes shut them out of market-rate homes.

"Through our community land trust model we will keep these homes affordable to future buyers as well," Hosfeld noted. "This is a significant legacy to our county and across the state.”

The bill was a result of one of the recommendations from the city’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) committee. Enterprise was instrumental in passing the bill and subsequently chairing working groups to facilitate the swift implementation of the program in Seattle. We are thrilled to have supported this effort to remove some of the financial barriers to building more affordable housing when it’s needed most: now.  

Seattle Equitable Development Initiative: A new model for funding community development 

On Sept. 13, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced $5 million to support community-originated projects through the city’s Equitable Development Initiative (EDI). This is the culmination of years of work by dozens of communities working to organize and create ideas for projects aimed at achieving racial equity and fighting the tide of displacement in Seattle.

The foundation for this work was laid by a diverse group of leaders representing many of Seattle’s communities of color who organized to advocate for the creation of the EDI. Due to their work, the city of Seattle prioritizes this funding for developments that are truly of, by and for Seattle’s communities in ways that cut across the normal funding silos. The projects funded this year will create affordable homes, culturally competent midwife services, elder and youth services, a living link to Chinatown’s past, a food innovation hub and more. 

Seattle’s EDI presents an exciting model for supporting community development that includes the Seattle Department of Planning & Development and the Office of Housing.

  • It pairs capacity building grants to help community-based organizations grow with capital grants to help them build.
  • It balances shovel-ready projects with what EDI Manager Ubax Gardheere calls “shovel-hungry” projects.
  • It uses data and community engagement to root its funding in both the history of systemic discrimination and in current conditions.
  • It includes a diverse and representative set of community voices on its advisory committee as well as on its grant review committee.
  • It is a model that our Enterprise PNW staff are reflecting on as we work through our Section 4 capacity building grants

More information on the awards here.

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