Arguably, Seattle is getting too much of our attention these days. Yes, we’re perhaps over-emphasizing the ‘social housing’ events that are currently occurring there. Our enthusiasm probably comes from reading about those marvellous cities somewhere over the rainbow, where folks rich and poor, actually enjoy life together in rental homes side by side regardless of their income. Cities like Vienna and Singapore.
Seattle’s population voted in favour of starting up a social housing venture in which tenants of all incomes could occupy the same basic housing suites. Management, upkeep and replacement costs would entirely covered by tenants paying rents that are geared to their incomes.
It is far cry, in other words, from America’s going-on century of commitment to a endlessly subsidized and racialized public housing adventure suitable only for the poorest of the poor.
The Washington State government has come up with some funding to support Seattle’s optimistic social housing program.
The size of the investment seems to reflect a chronic problem. A large proportion of people who are homeless in the United States live on the country’s west coast. The commited public investment to solve the problem is so slight that year after year it is invariably swallowed up by staffing, startup investment, and studies of the situation. There might be a demonstration project or two that pilots for some never-never future heavy duty funding.
Washington State’s munificence is a far cry from constructing meaningful numbers of any form of rent-geared-to-income housing that will be sustained by rents alone. It has rung in with actual money, not just good will. But it seems too little to pay for the stripped down basics of a CEO and a CFO, along with offices to accommodate them.
How long, if ever, will be until Seattle can plan and pay for a social housing experiment with rental housing in the land of the American Dream of housing ownership? Read more in the Seattle Times: Seattle social housing developer receives state funding for start up