Can Seattle’s New Social Housing Initiative Create Affordable Housing for All?

In Seattle’s demanding real estate market, rising prices and increased rent have many buyers and renters struggling to keep pace. The city is well-known for its high-paying tech sector, with a reported median income of $102,500 in 2019 — 56% higher than the national median. Despite this seemingly ample income, with the median cost of a single-family home in Seattle rising to $970,000 last month, even above-average earners are struggling to make ends meet, let alone the pressures faced by the city’s shrinking middle class.

One answer to this problem may be found in the “social housing” model popular in Europe, and particularly in cities like Vienna, Austria. A recent ballot initiative filed by a new housing and homelessness advocacy coalition called House Our Neighbors aims to create affordable housing for residents earning between 0% and 120% of the area’s median income.

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