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King County Executive
Dow Constantine


Executive launches initiative to create 700 units of workforce housing around transit centers

Summary

King County Executive and Sound Transit Board Chair Dow Constantine announced an initiative to create 700 units of affordable workforce housing in mixed-use, mixed-income communities build around transit centers. His initiative would create Transit-Oriented Developments, or TODs, that include housing, shopping, schools, and job centers.

Story

Transit-Oriented Development - Northgate
Transit-Oriented Design - Executive Constantine

Click photos of Northgate Station rendering and the Executive's news conference to view larger images. Photos courtesy of Sound Transit.

Seven-hundred units of affordable workforce housing would be created in mixed-use, mixed-income communities built around transit centers, under a new regional initiative announced by King County Executive and Sound Transit Board Chair Dow Constantine.

“Light rail has the power to transform communities. With this vision we can be deliberate about creating vibrant, walkable, economically diverse neighborhoods around new and existing stations,” said Executive Constantine.

“Using funding tools authorized by the Legislature, we can create at least 700 units of permanently affordable workforce housing to help meet the regional need, while catalyzing market-rate residential and commercial development near rail stations,” added the Executive.

“Rents and housing prices are rising faster than wages all over King County,” said King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove, chair of the Council’s Health, Housing and Human Services Committee. “I look forward to working with the Executive to build more housing as quickly as possible to help alleviate this housing crisis for King County’s working families."

The Executive’s Transit Station Housing and Development Initiative calls for creation of Transit-Oriented Developments, or TODs, that include housing, shopping, schools, and job centers. It is funded in three ways:

  • King County Housing Bonds
    As much as $45 million over the next six years would be generated under new authority from the Legislature to use anticipated lodging tax revenue sooner than expected. The final amount will be determined in collaboration with stakeholders and the County Council. The revenue will fund creation or preservation of at least 500 units of affordable workforce housing in healthy and sustainable transit-oriented communities.
  • REDI Fund
    At least $18 million is currently pledged to a new revolving loan fund called the Regional Equitable Development Initiative. REDI funds will enable the purchase of land and buildings for construction or preservation of 200 units of workforce and mixed-income housing over the next five years. The REDI Fund will be administered by the non-profit Enterprise Community Partners.
  • Sound Transit 3 ballot measure
    Legislators who authorized ST to go to the voters for expansion of light rail added a workforce housing fund for creation of housing near light rail stations, with authority to contribute an additional $20 million over four years to a revolving loan fund, like the REDI fund, should ST3 pass.

“As a non-profit developer of affordable housing, I applaud the County Executive for combining these potent resources to enable equitable development near light rail lines,” said Bill Rumpf, president of Mercy Housing Northwest, which breaks ground in December on housing for 108 lower-wage working families on a Sound Transit site next to Othello Station. "Sound Transit's commitment to make more land available near light rail for affordable and workforce housing will enable us to build much more housing for families to get to work, school and play.”

"Our expanding rail network is opening up so many opportunities to align housing and job centers with transit stations," said Greg Johnson, president of Wright Runstad & Company. "I was excited to learn that King County is taking a leadership role in helping to realize these opportunities."

"The State is proud to be a partner in this new regional TOD initiative," said State Rep. Jessyn Farrell, who authored the amendment to create the workforce housing fund in ST3. "Working together at the state, regional, and local level, we can help catalyze developments to maximize our investment in regional light rail."

Building communities based around transit 

In the next eight years, Sound Transit is on track to build more than 30 miles of light rail extensions approved by voters under ST2. As the system expands and stations are completed, the Executive has led Board action to direct that surplus land be freed up for community-building opportunities radiating outward from the stations.

“Thoughtful site selection is the cornerstone of creating affordable, connected communities,” said Devin Culbertson, Program Director for Transit-Oriented Development at Enterprise Community Partners. “Sound Transit dispositions and REDI Fund acquisitions can together create a pipeline of opportunities to efficiently provide hundreds of homes to those at risk of being priced out of the region’s transit-rich neighborhoods."

Further opportunities will come through the ST3 measure that is under development in response to the public’s call for light rail extensions to Tacoma, Everett, downtown Redmond, Ballard and West Seattle. More information on work to develop ST3 is at soundtransit3.org.

Under the initiative, Sound Transit will ramp up its work to make station areas vibrant and thriving places where people of all walks of life will live, work and play. The agency will kick-off a four-month effort to engage stakeholders and develop recommendations for the Sound Transit Board. Other near-term elements include a listening tour, workshops and a summit early next year.  

Funding partners for the REDI Fund include King County, the City of Seattle, A Regional Coalition for Housing (ARCH), Enterprise Community Partners, the State of Washington, the King County Housing Authority, and Living Cities.

Relevant links


Quotes

Light rail has the power to transform communities. With this vision we can be deliberate about creating vibrant, walkable, economically diverse neighborhoods around new and existing stations. Using funding tools authorized by the Legislature, we can create at least 700 units of permanently affordable workforce housing to help meet the regional need, while catalyzing market-rate residential and commercial development near rail stations.

Dow Constantine, King County Executive and Sound Transit Board Chair

Rents and housing prices are rising faster than wages all over King County. I look forward to working with the Executive to build more housing as quickly as possible to help alleviate this housing crisis for King County’s working families.

Dave Upthegrove, King County Councilmember and Chair of the Council's Health, Housing and Human Services Committee

As a non-profit developer of affordable housing, I applaud the County Executive for combining these potent resources to enable equitable development near light rail lines. Sound Transit's commitment to make more land available near light rail for affordable and workforce housing will enable us to build much more housing for families to get to work, school and play.

Bill Rumpf, President, Mercy Housing Northwest

Our expanding rail network is opening up so many opportunities to align housing and job centers with transit stations. I was excited to learn that King County is taking a leadership role in helping to realize these opportunities.

Greg Johnson, President, Wright Runstad & Company

The State is proud to be a partner in this new regional TOD initiative. Working together at the state, regional, and local level, we can help catalyze developments to maximize our investment in regional light rail.

Jessyn Farrell, State Representative

Thoughtful site selection is the cornerstone of creating affordable, connected communities. Sound Transit dispositions and REDI Fund acquisitions can together create a pipeline of opportunities to efficiently provide hundreds of homes to those at risk of being priced out of the region’s transit-rich neighborhoods.

Devin Culbertson, Program Director, Transit-Oriented Development, Enterprise Community Partners

For more information, contact:

Frank Abe, King County Executive Office, 206-263-9609
Bruce Gray, Sound Transit, 206-398-5069


King County Executive
Dow Constantine
Dow constantine portrait

Read the Executive's biography