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LIHI Endorses I-135

Seattle - On June 10th, 2022 the Board of the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) voted unanimously to endorse Initiative 135 that will establish a Social Housing Public Development Authority.

Board Member Herman Kahaloa, who is also a LIHI resident and was formerly homeless, spoke of LIHI’s decision: “We must do something bold to respond to our housing crisis. We literally can’t afford not to; we must try every option to build more affordable housing.”

LIHI is a regional leader on affordable housing in the Pacific Northwest with over 3,000 units of affordable housing in 70 properties across six different counties. LIHI operates two Urban Rest Stops in Seattle providing free hygiene resources to people experiencing homelessness. The non-profit also operates 17 Tiny House Villages in Seattle, Tacoma, Bellingham, Skyway and Olympia providing shelter and case management to people experiencing homelessness. Since the program began in 2015 LIHI’s Tiny House Villages have sheltered 2,516 women, men, children, people with pets, people with disabilities and seniors in Seattle.

Executive Director Sharon Lee said of LIHI’s endorsement: “There are simply not enough tax credits or subsidies to meet the enormous demand for more affordable housing. We need a new approach. Cities across the world have successfully used the Social Housing model to reduce displacement and housing speculation; Seattle should join their ranks. Economic evictions have become routine in Seattle and without a correction the housing market will only deliver more of the same; I-135 could fundamentally change that dynamic.”

LIHI is a leading voice on affordable housing, recently partnering with Mayor Harrell and the Seattle Office of Housing to purchase the Dockside Apartments in the Green Lake neighborhood. The building will be converted to Permanent Supportive Housing offering 70 units for people experiencing homelessness, plus 22 affordable workforce units for service industry workers employed in the neighborhood.

LIHI is a member of the Housing Development Consortium and has requested the consortium to endorse I-135. LIHI encourages all other affordable housing providers to endorse the initiative and rejects criticisms that this will harm current affordable housing programs. By creating a new Public Development Authority that could bond against future rental revenue, this housing model would be additive to the pool of existing resources available for affordable housing.

The deadline to sign the petition to get I-135 on the ballot is June 20. For more info, visit the Yes on I-135 website

Press Coverage:

Seattle Channel (Featuring Sharon Lee)

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