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September 26, 2013 at 7:07 AM
Seattle’s rental market absolutely should not go the way of New York City and San Francisco prices.
In Tuesday’s Seattle Times, reporter Sanjay Bhatt wrote a news story revealing landlords plan to increase rent by about 3 percent between September and March, on top of an estimated 7.5 percent increase over the last 12 months. Part of the problem is people in the millennial generation (born between the early 1980s and 1990s) are moving from bigger cities to Seattle. They’re accustomed to paying much more, and landlords know it. According to Bhatt’s news story:
In New York, renters in that age group spend roughly 70 percent of their income on housing, reports JLL, which compared millennial income data from PayScale.com to its own data on rents. In San Francisco, it’s about half their income.
In Seattle, rent consumes about 30 percent of millennials’ income.
There’s nothing wrong with people moving to Seattle. Quality of life here is great. If rent continues to eat up a greater portion of paychecks, though, the working poor and young adults will soon be priced out of the city’s urban core. Allowing that to happen will make Seattle less diverse and exacerbate traffic problems by forcing more people to live farther out and drive to work. Also, the more people spend on housing, they less they save or spend on food and the local economy.
In a Sept. 3 editorial, our editorial board encouraged the mayor and city leaders to pursue policy changes to increase affordable housing options.
I’m also intrigued by Sightline Institute Founder Alan Durning‘s e-book released last July, “Unlocking Home: Three Keys to Affordable Communities.” Durning, a Ballard resident and expert in sustainable living, studied the history of affordable housing throughout the northwest. In the 50-page book, he identifies three “less controversial” and politically feasible reforms that have worked. He says the city could make some simple changes in code to create thousands of additional units in existing neighborhoods. The three keys are: (more…)
July 3, 2013 at 6:00 AM
Reading my colleague Sharon Chan’s latest June 30 column made me feel less guilty about not being a homeowner yet. But then I walked into work the other day and saw a a front-page headline in the newspaper pop out at me:
Yikes. Really? According to that July 1 news report by Seattle Times reporter Colin Campbell, the average monthly rent in Seattle rose over the last three months to $1,190. In Capitol Hill, rates went up 8.2 percent to $1,395. Downtown leases rose 3.1 percent to an average of $1,707 per month. I appreciate the growth in employment from companies like Amazon and Microsoft, but it’s hard to see the consequences of those high-paying jobs on the local housing market. Young people, starving artists and low-income families are being pushed out of the city’s core into areas where they can find more affordable options.
I’ve rented since I moved away from home at 18. My career as a journalist means I haven’t lived in any one place for longer than about two years. Impermanence suits me. A good chunk of my take-home pay is spent on experiences (i.e. concerts/food/travel/outdoor adventures) instead of a mortgage payment. As much as I love leading an active lifestyle, I know it’s equally important to save and invest in retirement. Buying a place of my own is definitely on the to-do list. Luckily I pay reasonable rent and live with a great roommate, which is allowing me to reach my financial goals faster and afford to live in the heart of Capitol Hill.
That’s how I handle high rent and city living. How do others do it? Especially families? I really wonder. Join us on a live chat at noon Tuesday to discuss whether it’s better to rent or buy.
Seattle City Councilmember Nick Licata saw Campbell’s story and released a statement Tuesday calling for new requirements that private developers include affordable housing in new projects. Licata, the chair of the Housing, Human Services, Health and Culture Committee, brings up some good points: (more…)