Bellevue's Affordable Housing Plan Discussed For The Benefit Of The Public In A Virtual Meeting.


Photo: Spring District, The Bellevue Zone

The City of Bellevue held a community virtual affordable housing forum a few weeks ago (September 15, 2021) that lasted over an hour.

Facilitated by city representatives, the meeting was held to listen to the priorities of the public surrounding affordable housing.

The meeting began with Mac Cummins, Bellevue’s Community Development director, who spoke about what the Fair Housing Act was and how it's guideline is that 30% of a person's gross earnings should be spent on housing.

Housing choice is very important to the city's planning with the affordability gap growing more profoundly every day.

 The city adopted an affordable housing strategy in 2017 that intended to to create 2,500 housing units within ten years and Bellevue will reach that number earlier than planned.  The mayor and city council is talking about the city maybe needing more than that number, and that maybe Bellevue should be more aggressive in creating affordable housing.

The city put together in 2018 multiple millions of dollars annually in the city CIP to "help build and subsidize the construction of new, affordable housing."  Eight million has been committed this year already.

"The affordable housing strategy is really based on two main concepts; one is to look at the anything in our regulatory powers that we can do that will help make it easier to build housing, enter the housing market and so forth and then to look at leveraging any public monetary sources to help preserve or create housing."

A city priority in meeting the needs of the city's affordable housing is to preserve existing affordable housing, due to housing being bought up by developers that are changing the properties or redeveloping them in some way that takes away what is currently affordable housing.  Strategies to retain this affordable housing and add new affordable housing is an  strategy in order to build the maximum affordable housing stock.

The city has been working on partnerships with other agencies, such as a regional coalition among several cities along the east side that was set up a number of years ago by an inter-local agreement.  

Bellevue contributes financially to the coalition along the other cities that work together annually to try and get the most affordable housing created on the east side every year.   Tax credits are vital to creating affordable housing.   Working on policies and implementation with other east side cities are brought to each of the city councils for consideration to tackle the need for affordable housing.

Neighborhood Outreach Manager Mike McCormick Huentelman presented the public input portion of the presentation and read from the chats of residents attending the meeting.  Public concerns in the chat were diverse and included;

allowing single family lots to subdivide, helping people to age in place, wanting a more diverse set of options for affordable housing for all income levels, allowing teachers to live closer to schools, allowing young kids to afford to live in this area, ensuring Bellevue is a diverse community, allowing for workers and retirees to live together in the same area, focus on transit oriented development areas, preserving single family neighborhoods if they choose, a wide range of sentiments were represented in the comments.

City staff will read all the comments to get a pulse on what the community priorities are.

Related links:

Affordable Housing Strategy

79-page download: City of Bellevue Affordable Housing Strategy (2017)

Neighborhood Forum on affordable housing (announcement)

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I would like to comment that the City is NOT HELPING the problem of affordable housing by granting so many building permits to companies like MN Homes ... tearing down perfectly liveable homes (that are usually desirable lower priced ramblers; are great starter homes and good for people with disabilities).... and building $2-3+ million homes!

BUT, the City certainly doesn't mind the extra taxe$ on a $2-3+ million home!

It is also difficult for me to take seriously the advice in the recycling classes that Bellevue offers (encouraging me to buy bamboo toothbrushes, for example, rather than plastic handled ones) ... yet, I wonder how quickly landfills overflow with the debris from an entire HOUSE ... after house, after house!

It's not just the price of the HOUSING that has become unaffordable; it's also the property TAXES! Considering how big Bellevue's industry/commercial tax base has grown, there has not been much of a break for the residential property owners.

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