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Building affordable housing in Seattle isn't cheap

Just like any other building, affordable housing apartments in Seattle have the same costs.
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A view of Seattle

The average price per unit for affordable housing in Seattle is hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“$300,000 is the average cost today to construct a unit and that’s how much these cost,” she said inside of the brand-new Arbora Court affordable apartments in Seattle’s University District.

The 133-unit property opened this month. The total construction price was $40 million, according to Boyd.

The recently passed head tax plans to spend between $27.5 and $29.2 million a year on building affordable housing. The 5-year goal is to build 591 units, according to material provided by the city.

Boyd said the cost of Arbora Court could have been even more expensive. She said the church next door, University Christian Church, let them purchase the property for $4 million. Boyd said that was roughly half the market price at the time.

“It really cost the same as it cost to build any multi-family (market rate) housing in Seattle,” she said. “Seattle land is very expensive. Seattle construction cost a very expensive.”

Boyd said the total construction costs include design, permitting, construction costs, and financing.

The development was funded with approximately $10 million of public funds, including $2.5 million from the Washington State Housing Trust Fund, $400,000 from King County and $6.8 million from the City of Seattle Office of Housing, Boyd wrote in an email.

Boyd says it’s going to take a lot of money, land, and political capital to build more affordable housing.

“One of the ways we have to address the affordable housing crisis is to produce regulated, affordable housing. If we’re going to do that, we have to pay the cost to buy the land and construct the building,” she said.

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