Affordable housing, rising rents focus of Seattle public forum

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by TERESA YUAN / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @TeresaYuan

KING5.com

Posted on February 13, 2014 at 12:44 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 13 at 12:44 PM

SEATTLE – The city of Seattle is tackling the growing issues of rising rents and providing affordable housing for the working and middle class at a public forum Thursday.

A panel of housing experts from cities already experiencing including San Francisco, Chicago and Denver will share what's working and not working in their cities.

“The issue around affordability in housing is approaching a crisis level that we’re not use to seeing in,” said Seattle City Councilmember Mike O’Brien.

This debate is not only raging in Seattle but tensions are running high in San Francisco where  protestors are blocking Google and Facebook buses that carry employees out the city into Silicon Valley.

Residents believe these big companies and their employees are why rents are going up.

Just this week in Seattle, protestors blocked Microsoft's Connector bus on Capitol Hill.

"It's tough to find affordable housing in neighborhoods that it's easy to get around to get to work, easy to get downtown. Anywhere you'd actually want to live it's kind of hard to find affordable housing,” said a renter, Clinton Tsang.

City leaders admit this is a complex issue but hope today's forum will jump start plans to make Seattle affordable.

“Frankly we need everyone who's interested in this to play a role. We need private developers we need non-profit developers, we need city government, state government, fed government all need to be focusing on how we provide the mix of housing that the city of Seattle needs,” said O’Brien.

The affordable housing public forum runs from 12:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. where the expert panel will discuss the issues at Seattle City Hall. Then from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. is public feedback.

After this forum, Councilmember O'Brien says consultants will be working a housing plan and by June they'll present a strategy to the city council.

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