Seattle City Council appointed on Tuesday a real estate developer/assets manager with extensive experience and a senior planner from Sound Transit to the Seattle Social Housing Developer Board.
Julie Howe's 25 year career has included managing the acquisition and rehab of multi- and one-family developments. Alex Lew, a multimodal urban transportation planner and cyclist advocate, has 25 years of experience.
The City Council's appointments are an important step in launching the second entity for social housing development in the country.
The remaining board members will be announced at the council committee meeting on Friday. It is anticipated that the first board meeting will take place within 30 days.
The city's voters passed Initiative 135 on February 14, approving it by a large majority. This will create a public development authority, which will construct and maintain "social housing" for mixed income. The housing is intended to be affordable for the long term and run with residents' input.
The PDA is still in need of money, despite the fact that Olympia failed to provide enough funding during the recently concluded legislative session. Seattle legislators, led by Rep. Frank Chopp sought $900,000 for the first 18 months of operation, but only $200,000.
Tiffani McCoy said on Tuesday that the authority would seek to cover the difference through city funding. She said that I-135 mandates Seattle to fund the authority during the first year-and-a-half. McCoy believes the cost of the authority will be around $1 million.
Tammy J. Morales, a member of the City Council who has been a strong supporter of social housing for many years, called I-135’s passage “a once in a generation step towards fixing our housing crises.”
Program proponents envision creating social housing communities where people live long term in buildings that will be built to ultra-energy-efficient "passive house" standards.
Howe and Lew, the two council-appointed members, will be overseen by a 13-member board.
Seattle Renters Commission appointed seven members to its renter board: Ebo Barron, Kaileah Baladi, Devyn Friese, Tom Barnard, Dawn Dailey, Katie LeBret, and Kayellen Zimmern.
Mike Eliason is an architect, founder of Larch Lab and member of the city's Green New Deal Oversight Board. He was also appointed by this board.
Julie Howe is an affordable housing expert and a predoctoral teacher at the University of Washington where she is pursuing a Ph.D. degree in urban design and planing.
Lew worked previously at King County, and the planning consultancy Nelson/Nygaard. He is a member of the Seattle Neighborhood Greenways Board and Whose Streets Our Streets.
The PDA will employ a chief executive officer (CEO) and a chief financial officer, and work in office space owned by the city.
The PDA's long-term funding will need to be decided.
Montgomery County, Maryland's social housing developer is the first in the nation to request grants and loans. Then, he issues low-interest bond to increase these funds, and build and acquire new buildings.
The developer can use these funds as collateral for bonds once the renters have moved in and paid rent according to their income level.