Seattle rental rates, housing changes top of mind for new council member

New Seattle City Council member Teresa Mosqueda is a renter herself. Mosqueda says it's prepared her for one of the hot-button issues in the city and how the city should address it.

A new report suggests there may be some minor relief in rental rates in the greater Seattle area.

Mary Moor, a Senior Researcher at RealData and ApartmentInsights.com, says rents fell 2.89% in the 4th quarter of 2017 in the metro region. That may be due to nearly 25,000 units now under construction in the region, according to the report.

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But don't tell that to people living on Lower Queen Anne and the Uptown neighborhood.

“The prices here are ridiculous,” said Morning Mills, a born and raised Seattleite. “There is an increase with everything. Nobody can survive.”

“I moved up here because the houses were a lot cheaper than they were in the Bay Area,” said 81-year-old Woody, who has lived in the area for several decades. He says now, “I think they're outrageous.”

“It's the top issue for most Seattle residents,” acknowledges new Seattle City Council member Teresa Mosqueda. She held her first public hearing on Thursday in her committee which will address housing costs.

Mosqueda has a background that's unlike her council colleagues.

“I'm a renter,” she said, talking about her Queen Anne apartment, “Our rent increased over $400 in the last two years, not to any fault of our landlord. They're very responsive but because there is not enough housing in our city.”

Mosqueda says it's prepared her for one of the hot-button issues in the city and how the city should address it. She wants to explore possibilities with publicly owned lands, and yes, more upzones.

“We can do a lot more to add density -- density done right, development done right -- to reflect the needs of our community," she said.

Mosqueda also believes increased property taxes to support city services are the solution for the situation.

“When we see increases in taxes, it effects renters as well,” said Mosqueda.

As far as Woody and Mills, they've both taken different directions when dealing with the city's housing crunch.

Woody moved to Tukwila where “I pay a $1,050 a month, that's cheap in this town, unfortunately.”

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Mills is living with a family member, because, in her mind, “You can't (live in Seattle) unless you have a roommate. More and more family, friends are moving south because the prices are more reasonable, but commute to Seattle because people have to work,” she said.