Sometimes life just doesn’t go your way and you just can’t seem to catch a break. For some people that leads them towards poverty and homelessness. I think that safety net programs like food stamps are a necessary thing in order to aid in the general wellbeing of people who find themselves in these unfortunate situations. I feel the same towards subsided housing. This is something the city of Seattle should do, just differently. I believe that they subsidized housing brackets should be adjusted so that you must be under 50% AMI in order to apply and distribute housing on a need basis.
I am graduating this spring and I have been constantly peeking at what the average rent prices are in Seattle. After our talk last week about subsidized housing in Seattle I decided to look up what people could afford in certain AMI brackets. I looked on the office of housing’s website to see what the area median income was and what the corresponding affordable rents were.
This varied by family size but what I found was that these affordable rent prices were what I noted as standard rent prices in and around Seattle for the 60% AMI bracket. For example the affordable rent for a studio for a 60% area median income for a single person was $949. Without much effort I was able to find a number of places in Capitol Hill, West Seattle, Fremont and Ballard. For a family with kids I was even able to find a 3 bedroom apartment out by SeaTac for $1400 which is lower than the affordable rent for the same AMI bracket. Obviously prices dropped the farther away from Seattle you moved.
(Below are the links to the apartments if you are interested in where I found them)
The point I am trying to make is that if I can find affordable rent for people at 60% AMI with little effort then they should not be eligible for subsidized housing. They just don’t need it. The people who truly need this subsidy are the people who are not able to afford the rent in Seattle with their income alone. Seattle has taken the initiative to bring down housing costs through multiple measures which will help these people that are in this 60%-80% AMI range but the gap is too large to close for people who are below the 50% AMI mark.
I was unable to find the number of subsidized homes for people in 60-80% AMI bracket however the Seattle housing board says that it serves 34,000 people with 83% of households under the 30% AMI mark. Simple math tells me that there are about 5,700 people who are not in the lowest tier. Those spots should be all for the people in the 30% AMI bracket and there is plenty of people who need it. It seems unfair to me that someone who is capable of living without assistance may be helped while many people who are struggling or homeless are unable to find an affordable place to live. Seattle has always been a welcoming city. It is known for the number of different types of people from all walks of life. This adjustment allows people who are coming from a rough patch or even refugees who are getting accustomed to their new home time to find work and eventually a career.