Advocates for the homeless are celebrating throughout the country as Congress passed the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2017. Introduced with bipartisan support led by Democrat Maria Cantwell of Washington and Republican Orrin Hatch of Utah, the bill sets nearly $3 billion in federal funds to help build housing for low income individuals and families. News of the bill’s passage was met with particular excitement in Seattle. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Seattle is one of the five most expensive cities in the country, with rents averaging $1,842 per month for a one-bedroom apartment. High rent rates created a significant homeless population in the city, with Seattle and its outlying suburbs having the third largest homeless population in the country.
To mark the bill’s passage, Senator Cantwell joined Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan in a visit to Patrick Place, a low-income apartment building in the city. In addition to offering more affordable rent for residents, Patrick Place also offers mental health and addiction counseling centers, as well as physical rehabilitation facilities. Speaking with residents of Patrick Place, Cantwell and Durkan heard stories of how the program helped them get back on their feet and live more fulfilled lives. Speaking to resident Dennis Bateman, Cantwell and Durkan heard how Patrick Place helped him lead a sober lifestyle and get a steady job.
While the full impact of the bill on Seattle is currently unknown, Cantwell estimates that at least three or four more Patrick Place style centers will be built in the greater Seattle area. Dan Watson, Deputy Chief of the Regional Housing Authority in King County, told reporters that initial estimates are that nationally an additional 29,000 affordable houses will be built in the next four years.