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December 16, 2014 at 11:55 AM

Seattle Housing Authority puts rent change on hold

Seattle Housing Authority Executive Director Andrew Lofton (Credit: The Seattle Times)

Seattle Housing Authority Executive Director Andrew Lofton (Credit: The Seattle Times)

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray (Photo credit: Jon Lok / The Seattle Times)

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray (Photo credit: Jon Lok / The Seattle Times)

The Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) has shelved its controversial plan to raise rents for thousands of tenants.

There will be no rent policy change until 2016 and the SHA may scrap the plan altogether.

“We have decided to put consideration of the Stepping Forward proposal on hold,” SHA Executive Director Andrew Lofton wrote Monday in a letter to Seattle Mayor Ed Murray.

The SHA board of commissioners was initially set to vote on the plan by the end of 2014. No longer.

“In early 2015 we will work with our board of commissioners to establish a process and time frame for a new policy recommendation,” Lofton wrote in his letter. “We are unlikely to put forth a rent policy proposal before 2016.”

Stepping Forward would use apartment size rather rather than household income to set rents for households with at least one adult capable of working. The rents would increase over time. The plan would pair the rent hikes with job counseling for tenants.

In proposing Stepping Forward earlier this year, Lofton argued the plan would help the SHA serve more tenants and cope with budget cuts. The SHA has about 9,000 households on its waiting list for public housing and recently had 24,000 households apply for 2,000 available rent vouchers.

But many SHA tenants, advocates for low-income housing and elected officials came out against the plan, saying households would be unable to keep up with the rent increases. Tenants demonstrated against Stepping Forward at a number of SHA meetings and at City Hall, and Murray expressed concerns about the plan.

Read Lofton’s letter to Murray here.

Comments | More in General news, Government, Politics | Topics: Andrew Lofton, rent, Seattle Housing Authority

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