The local government of Seattle, Washington, announced the purchase of luxury buildings in a downtown neighborhood of the city to house homeless people living on the streets, Fox News reported.
The purchase of three new buildings in the upscale Capitol Hill neighborhood where one of the buildings has stunning views of the Space Needle and Puget Sound towers—two iconic Seattle buildings, were made with part of the $1.9 billion American Recovery Plan 2021 federal aid package the government released to alleviate the pandemic shutdown.
Emily Alvaredo, the Seattle Office of Housing director, said, “Everyone deserves a high quality, affordable place to call home. The fact we’re able to produce high-quality, affordable housing at a price that’s good for the public, through our subsidy, is a win-win.”
Seattle has more than 12,000 people living on the street. With the purchase of these buildings that cost 50 million or 300,000 dollars each unit, there will be 165 apartments to house families and single individuals who are about to become homeless or already living on the streets.
Fox News spoke with construction people in business who stated that the price paid by Democrat Jenny Durkan’s administration for the buildings is double or triple what it costs to build them.
According to the conservative outlet, while the city government spends millions on building homes for the homeless, its policies may well be exacerbating the problem.
Mayor Durkan recently re-extended—for the sixth time—the eviction moratorium until mid-January 2022, and many tenants who receive financial assistance from the government would rather not pay rent knowing that they cannot be evicted.
In addition, several laws were passed that are supposed to protect tenants but create an additional burden on landlords. For example, tenants have to be notified six months in advance if the landlord decides to raise the rent. If the tenant does not want to pay the increase, the landlord has to cover moving costs.
As a result, landlords are less willing to stay in the rental business, and this has also caused market prices to rise exponentially due to the shortage of available housing.
“A lot of people are deciding it’s too risky for me to put someone into my home under the current conditions,” said Cory Brewer, a realtor with Windermere Real Estate.
Brewer says there was a 48% increase in rental homes sold to owner-occupants in 2020. And so far in 2021, there has been a 35% increase on top of that, meaning owners are selling their properties and leaving the city because the rental business is too risky there.
According to the latest report from the Seattle Department of Building and Inspection, there were 4,858 fewer rental properties in 2020, a 14% drop from last year.
Brewer asserts that the city government’s policies only hurt tenants.
According to Daniel Stoner, CEO of a construction company that has been building buildings in the city of Seattle for years, one solution to deal with the housing crisis is to deregulate the construction market, i.e., reduce regulations that increase the cost of building and thus reduce the availability of rental housing.
“We see a disconnect between what is being said and what is actually being done behind the scenes in terms of city policies,” said Stoner, “They’re making it harder for us to bring apartments to market.”