Researching Public Law and Public Policy in the Public Interest

Battling Inequality, Seattle Bets on Transit-Oriented Housing

Michael Schoenfeld/Enterprise Community Partners

From Citylab:

A coalition of public, private, and nonprofit partners has launched a permanent fund to support equitable affordable-housing options near public transit across the Seattle metro area. The money is arriving right on time.

The new $21 million Regional Equitable Development Initiative Fund (or REDI Fund) will give developers access to low-interest loans to acquire property near existing and emerging transit corridors. With future federal support for fair housing in doubt and Seattle housing costs skyrocketing, this rotating-loan fund will enable inclusive-housing developments throughout the Puget Sound region.

Spearheaded by Enterprise Community Partners, the REDI Fund also lands just after voters in King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties approved a $54 billion transportation package to create 10 Sound Transit rail extensions and three bus rapid transit (BRT) corridors. This fund will piggyback on voters’ desires to create a more accessible Seattle region. “There’s a tremendous amount of opportunity now,” says Devin Culbertson, senior program director for Enterprise. “The revolving-loan fund is definitely a fit for the transit buildout that the region anticipates.”

The loan fund will provide capital to developers who make a commitment to create affordable housing. It works at two tiers: For every single housing development, the REDI Fund will require that 10 percent of the housing units be preserved for households earning below 80 percent of Area Median Income, or that the units be 20 percent below market rate—the lower of the two.

The REDI Fund also sets targets for deeper-affordability commitments. Some developers will be held to more stringent requirements in order to ensure that 25 percent of total units built be preserved for households earning under 50 percent AMI, and that 15 total units be built over the course of the funding round for households earning 30 percent AMI.

Further—since the whole goal of the REDI Fund is to build equitable transit-oriented development—developers will have to use the loans to acquire sites within either one-half mile of a rail station or one-quarter mile of a frequent-service bus stop.

Read this article in its entirety at Citylab