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Mayor Backus Talks Tackling the Housing Affordability Crisis


This is a re-post from Mayor Backus’ weekly update.

This has been a week dominated by conversations about how we, as cities and as a region, can tackle the growing challenge of affordable housing.

On Monday morning, Director of Community Development Jeff Tate and I met with the Pierce County Master Builders Association, part of an ongoing series of meetings that we hold with them throughout the year to discuss how we can work together to improve housing affordability in our community.


On Tuesday morning, I joined former Governor and Challenge Seattle CEO Chris Gregoire, Microsoft President Brad Smith, and mayors from throughout the region to discuss the middle-income housing affordability crisis in King County.

In January, Microsoft pledged $500 million to affordable housing and nine mayors, including myself, committed to key efforts that would allow for increased housing affordability opportunities.

This meeting was focused on discussing the crisis and its impacts on each of our communities, as well as how public and private sector leaders can work together to address the issue and develop housing opportunities for our region’s middle-income families.

Though there is a lot of attention given to the challenges of retaining and creating housing for low-income residents, we hear much less about the challenges that our middle-income residents also face.


At Tuesday’s meeting, we looked at the economics that has contributed to this crisis and at the challenges that surround increasing middle-income housing stocks. In short, to cover the cost of construction for new apartments, average monthly rent would need to be around $2,800, while most middle-income households can afford $1,300-$2,700 a month.

The question we posed to ourselves is how to fill that gap.

On Wednesday, I also attended the All Home coordinating board meeting where we continue to address issues of homelessness in our region and work together to leverage our collective expertise and resources to bring us closer to that goal.


The issues being addressed at these meetings are all closely tied together, as are the strategies to tackle them.

As I’ve said before, housing affordability and homelessness are the challenges of our generation. There are no easy fixes, nor is there one solution, but I hope that by us all continuing to work together in this way, we will move closer to lasting change that benefits ALL in our community.

The above is aggregated content, originally featured in Mayor Nancy Backus’ weekly update.  The Auburn Examiner has not independently verified its contents.

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