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Harder Times Loom For Affordable Housing

A new direction may be coming from Washington about affordable housing, but the federal government is only one part of the puzzle of getting affordable deals done. “It’s not totally clear" what comes next, Enterprise Community Partners VP and Pacific Northwest market leader M.A. Leonard told us. 


"The national election leads me to be cautious about both the low-income housing tax credit program, long the workhorse for producing affordable housing, as well as HUD programs," she said. "Cuts in the corporate tax rate, as well as the need to balance the federal budget, are anticipated to be damaging—and potentially catastrophic—for the housing tax credit, which has enjoyed strong bipartisan support and produced so much affordable housing." 

In the Seattle area in particular, she said, housing costs are soaring, forcing lower-wage and even middle-wage workers to move far from their jobs. "It would be a horrible time for the federal government to pull housing support." 


On a more positive note, a number of Northwest communities, including Vancouver, Portland, Seattle and Bellingham, have recently voted for local funding to help alleviate the emerging housing crisis, M.A. said. "The effort's very notable, but local support was always intended to supplement, rather than replace, federal housing programs.”

One example of a local initiative is the Regional Equitable Development Initiative Fund, recently established by Enterprise and a coalition of public, private and nonprofit investors, including the State of Washington, the City of Seattle, Living Cities, Low Income Investment Fund, King County, King County Housing Authority and A Regional Coalition for Housing.

The $21M revolving loan fund will provide low-cost financing for nonprofit and for-profit developers to acquire sites to preserve or to develop affordable and mixed-income housing. 

More specifically, the fund explicitly supports Equitable Transit-Oriented Development throughout the three participating counties. Pictured: Kebero Court, an eTOD development in Downtown Seattle completed last year.