Council approves Yesler Terrace rebuild; housing authority faces budget cuts
The Seattle City Council unanimously approved a legislative package that would rezone the Yesler Terrace neighborhood and allow Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) to sell the land to developers and build new public housing on a smaller footprint.
Despite lingering concerns from residents and neighbors, SHA will replace one of the oldest public housing developments in the country with multiple high-rises holding a mix of market-rate and low-income housing along with retail and business space.
The project will replace the 561 units of housing that currently sit on 30 acres of land around Yesler Way east of Interstate 5. SHA plans to include 100 additional housing units for people living below 30 percent of the area median income and 290 for people living at 30 to 60 percent of the median income.
Critics of the plan say the proposal uses too much state and city money designated for new housing while only guaranteeing the replacement of 561 units.
The city council’s legislative package pressures, but does not require, SHA to build the 100 additional very-low-income units.
When the city council passed the package Sept. 4, Seattle Displacement Coalition Executive Director John Fox presented a petition of 80 community leaders who oppose the plan. He said one in 10 residential units to be built on-site will serve the poorest residents
“This agreement first serves a food chain of developers and planners and only last do a few of these dollars trickle down to the people SHA is chartered to serve,” Fox said.
SHA officials maintained that the 70-year-old housing development is overdue for replacement and that the city and state funding bolsters Yesler Terrace’s chances for competitive federal grants. The property sale, which SHA estimates will bring in $140 million, will provide some of the funding SHA needs to replace the housing.
SHA is facing another year of budget cuts after trimming $10 million and 55 full-time positions last year.
For 2013, SHA is cutting $4.5 million in spending and eliminating another 29 full-time positions.
It will spend an additional $10 million on redevelopment thanks to the Yesler Terrace project, but cut almost $5 million from operations, administrative, capital and grant-funded expenses.
SHA will hold a public hearing on the proposed budget 3 p.m., Sept. 17 at Seattle Housing’s Central Office at 190 Queen Anne Ave. N.
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.