MHA Passes in Seattle

Home Docket Seattle View

Mandatory Housing Affordability Passes in Seattle

Seattle City Council unanimously voted on Monday, May 18 2019, to pass the MHA, or Mandatory Housing Affordability plan, which is just one part of the multi-pronged Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) to address housing insecurity and rising residential real estate prices. MHA is expected to be signed by Mayor Jenny Durkan in approximately 10 days, and would then take effect in about 60 days. This new law will require developers to include affordable housing units in new developments or pay fines to city, which will be put toward affordable housing development. This will impact 27 areas throughout Seattle, although this equates to changes to just about 6% of the properties currently in single family residential zoning.

Fees or Dedicated Affordable Units

Developers building in the new MHA areas will be required to either dedicate between 5 and 11 percent of their development to affordable housing units, or they will face fines based on building height and density. The money collected from fines will go to organizations such as Capitol Hill Housing or Bellwether Housing, both organizations already dedicated building and managing affordable, subsidized housing in Seattle.

Changes to Seattle Neighborhoods

This legislation means that neighborhoods or specific portions of neighborhoods that were previously zoned for single family homes only, may now start allowing backyard cottages, townhomes, condominiums, or apartment buildings. Buildings may be allowed to increase in height or width, in order to make the most use of the land. Some of these 27 neighborhoods include: Eastlake; Greenwood; Northgate; Lake City; West Seattle Junction; Columbia City.

Housing Affordability and Livability

The Seattle agenda dedicated to addressing livability for all Seattleites is known as Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA). They have a multi-part strategy that includes rezoning some neighborhoods to allow for denser development. Some of these strategies include implementing a Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA) fee. This fee would contribute to the city’s fund for affordable housing and/or require builders and developers to include a certain percentage of affordable housing units in a housing development, whether this is for ownership or renting.

Public Opposition

There may still be ongoing opposition to this legislation. Although the mayor is expecting to sign the bill soon, opponents could still bring lawsuits against MHA, which may delay implementation. Many opponents are concerned about the impact on the character of Seattle neighborhoods. There is concern about gentrification, and that MHA will not have the desired effect of increasing affordability in the city. Opponents worry about increased development pushing lower income residents further outside the city. Some also have concerns about how the fees may be utilized.

Public Support

Those in favor of the bill feel that the increased density will allow many more people to live within Seattle. Proponents believe the increase in funds will assist local housing agencies to support the mission of increased livability within the city. Some proponents of the bill are frustrated at the length of time the current effort has taken, citing the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars of development around areas recently upzoned, such as the Roosevelt neighborhood.

Upzoned Area Map in Seattle
Map of Upzone Areas After MHA, from Seattle Times.

Public Opposition

There may still be ongoing opposition to this legislation. Although the mayor is expecting to sign the bill soon, opponents could still bring lawsuits against MHA, which may delay implementation. Many opponents are concerned about the impact on the character of Seattle neighborhoods. There is concern about gentrification, and that MHA will not have the desired effect of increasing affordability in the city. Opponents worry about increased development pushing lower income residents further outside the city. Some also have concerns about how the fees may be utilized.

Public Support

Those in favor of the bill feel that the increased density will allow many more people to live within Seattle. Proponents believe the increase in funds will assist local housing agencies to support the mission of increased livability within the city. Some proponents of the bill are frustrated at the length of time the current effort has taken, citing the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars of development around areas recently upzoned, such as the Roosevelt neighborhood.

Does This Impact You?

Do you want more information on any of these topics, or would you like to learn how these changes might impact you? Whether you currently own property or would like to become a homeowner, we can provide resources and guidance. Are you curious if the zoning of your home has changed? We can answer these questions and help you understand the value of your property. With our expertise in zoning, land development, and building code, we provide a unique knowledge base outside typical residential real estate.

Talk with Home Docket today

Whether you are buying or selling a home or property in or around the Seattle area, let us navigate you through the exciting Seattle real estate market. Within the last decade, our agents have sold over $200,000,000 in residential real estate alone – we know the ins and outs of buying and selling a home, and we can help you meet your goals.

Contact John Cowan

Call Home Docket Agent

Sign up for our Newsletter

Members get the latest information on new construction and real estate investment