King County, Washington, has a population of more than 1.5 million, making it the 13th largest among 3,000 counties nationwide. It was the only county outside the Sunbelt with an overall population increase of more than 10 percent during the 1980s. The county covers 2,142 square miles, with virtually all of its population concentrated in its western third. Nearly one-third of King County's population is in the city of Seattle, while another third is located in 32 suburban jurisdictions, and the remaining third is located in unincorporated areas.
King County's Consolidated Plan is a 5-year plan for housing and community development in the county outside of Seattle. For the purposes of the HOME Investment Partnership Program (HOME), it is a consortium including 31 suburban cities that has been allocated $2.9 million HOME dollars for the first year of the plan. For the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and Emergency Shelter Grant (ESG) programs, the consortium consists of 29 cities, omitting Auburn and Bellevue. The first-year CDBG allocation is $7.1 million and the ESG grant is $228,000. The city of Seattle prepares its own plan for these programs. The plan emphasizes increasing the supply of housing affordable to low- and moderate-income households, improving neighborhoods, preventing homelessness, improving public facilities, and providing services to low- and moderate-income persons.
To facilitate citizen participation in preparation of the Consolidated Plan,
the county provided information to the public on the funds estimated to be
available during the upcoming year and the proposed range of activities to be
undertaken. The county developed program policies based on local needs that
prioritize use of CDBG funds. Each jurisdiction within the county held public
meetings to discuss proposed policies affecting their area. The county held an
additional set of meetings in three low-income neighborhoods, Black Diamond,
North Bend, and Shoreline, which will be particular targets for CDBG funds. To
address social services needs, meetings were held with county homeless shelters,
the AIDS Housing Committee, and the King County Housing Authority. Meetings were
held with housing developers. County staff also participated in meetings with
the city of Seattle to coordinate planning.
King County experienced tremendous economic growth throughout the 1980s, although the economy has slowed considerably. More than 75 percent of Washington's new jobs since 1980 were created in the Seattle and King County suburbs. The increase in the labor force placed added pressures on the housing market and housing prices escalated dramatically in the late 1980s. The land supply is limited by Puget Sound on the west and the Cascade Mountains, federally designated wilderness, and rural agricultural areas on the east.
In the 1990s King County has experienced a significant economic slowdown. The number of higher paying manufacturing jobs has decreased while many of the newly created jobs are lower wage jobs in the services and trades. Since most Boeing plants are located in southern King County, the loss of thousands of Boeing jobs in the past several years has particularly affected the county's economy.
The population in the consortium area of King County is 990,004, according to the 1990 census. Just over half of this population lived in cities; the rest lived in unincorporated places that are potential annexation areas. This was a 28 percent increase over 1980. In the next decade, a 20 percent increase is expected.
Although the population of King County is predominantly white, ethnic minorities represent the fastest growing population. Minorities now comprise 15.2 percent of the county's population as compared to 11.6 percent in 1980. Currently, the county's population is 84.8 percent white, 7.9 percent Asian American or Pacific Islander, and 5.1 percent African American. The majority (56 percent) of King County's minorities live in Seattle. Outside of Seattle, the 1990 population was 90 percent white. The consortium has no significant areas of minority or low-income concentration.
Median family income (MFI) for King County is $48,000. Although the proportion of poor people (below 50 percent of MFI) in the county has decreased, the numbers have increased. In 1990 there were 379,783 households outside of Seattle. Of these, 15 percent had very low incomes (0-50 percent of MFI); 16 percent had low incomes (51-80 percent of MFI; 10 percent had moderate incomes (81-95 percent of MFI); and 59 percent had incomes above 95 percent of MFI.
The number of households receiving public assistance has increased 40
percent since 1980. Currently 36,500 households in the county (6 percent)
receive public assistance.
There are 395,692 year-round housing units in the King County consortium area. Of these, 365,733, or 95 percent are occupied. Approximately 34 percent of the occupied units are rentals. Almost one-third of housing units (31 percent) have been built since 1980. Only 14 percent of the housing stock have zero or one bedroom; 62 percent have two or three bedrooms; and 24 percent have four or more bedrooms.
Population growth in the last half of the 1980s increased demand for rental housing. Despite a high number of apartment units constructed during the 1980s (10,000 new units between 1987 and 1990 alone), the overall vacancy rate for all housing units dropped from 5.1 percent in 1980 to 4.8 percent in 1993.
The averagesales price for housing in King County continues to increase. From 1980 to 1994, the average price increased from $81,600 to $178,900. Throughout most of the 1980s, falling interest rates combined with moderate house prices and income increases to improve home purchase affordability in King County. However, this changed dramatically from mid-1988 to mid-1990, when housing prices increased at the rate of 2 to 3 percent a month. Affordability improved after mid-1990 as housing prices began to stabilize and interest rates declined, but the average sales price is now clearly beyond the reach of households at 80 percent of median or lower.
Although rents vary widely among the communities, throughout the county the average monthly rent for a two-bedroom, single-bath unit was $622, a 95-percent increase over the $312 cost in 1980.
The area's income gains of the 1980s did not keep pace with the cost of housing.
First-time homebuyers with moderate incomes may face severe cost obstacles in purchasing homes in King County. For example, a first-time homebuyer earning 85 percent of MFI ($33,437) could afford a purchase price of $109,100 with an FHA mortgage, a 4.5 percent downpayment, and an interest rate of 7.44 percent. With an average selling price of $178,900, the homebuyer faces an affordability gap of $69,800. It is estimated that only 19 percent of the county's housing stock would be affordable for such a homebuyer. Furthermore, many lower income rental households have problems saving money necessary for a downpayment due to excessive rental costs.
Renters have also experienced increasing affordability gaps in their housing options. The median household income in King County increased from $20,500 in 1980 to $39,600 in 1992, a 93-percent increase. However, the average monthly rent rose from $312 to $622 during this same period, an increase of 96 percent.
The private housing market clearly does not provide affordable units to very low- and low- income households. Such households are more likely to live in substandard housing and to spend more than 50 percent of their incomes on housing.
In March of 1994, the Seattle-King County Coalition for the Homeless conducted a point-in- time survey of 40 homeless shelters throughout the county. The results of the survey are as follows:
Organizations serving the homeless are diverse and range from local churches to community-based nonprofit agencies to regional service providers. There are programs serving homeless families, youth, victims of domestic violence, and persons with HIV/AIDS. In addition, community mental health providers, drug and alcohol treatment agencies, and others provide specific housing and support services.
The county's response to homelessness has become more coordinated and focused on a continuum-of-care approach. In recent years, local governments have increased funding for social services, new service providers have emerged, and experienced providers have expanded their efforts.
The King County Housing Authority (KCHA) manages 3,275 public housing units. One-third of them are one- and two-bedroom units. The KCHA also administers tenant-based assistance in the form of 2,164 Section 8 certificates and 438 Section 8 vouchers. The demand for housing assistance far exceeds the available supply. Currently there are more than 1,800 families on waiting lists for Section 8 housing and 2,276 persons on waiting lists for KCHA's public housing units. The average waiting time for the Section 8 housing is estimated at between 24 and 36 months.
King County developed an inventory of housing units assisted under other programs. Over 2,000 units have been produced, some designated for special needs populations.
King County's displacement policies discourage acquisition and rehabilitation of buildings currently occupied by persons with incomes below 80 percent of the county's median. The county also reports there is not a large stock of abandoned buildings with potential for rehabilitation into affordable housing units.
The King County Fair Housing Ordinances support housing to eliminate patterns of racial and economic segregation that persist throughout the county. Minority households in King County are more likely to live in poverty and have housing problems than white households.
The likelihood of housing containing lead-based paint is related to the age of a housing unit. It is estimated that 48,905 low-income renter households and 29,004 low-income owner households in King County live in units considered to have potential lead-based paint hazards. However, only 13 cases of children under age 15 with elevated blood-lead levels were reported in both Seattle and the rest of the county between May 1993 and June 1994.
Special needs groups include those with supportive service needs, such as the mentally ill, people with developmental or physical disabilities, runaway and homeless youth, persons with HIV/AIDS, alcohol and substance abusers, frail elderly, veterans, and victims of domestic violence. In some cases pregnant and parenting youth and young adults also have special needs. The combination of low-cost housing and support services is often the key to helping people succeed. The estimated need for additional beds in 1990 was as follows:
As part of the Consolidated Plan, specific cities within the consortium will focus on addressing community development needs, goals, and strategies that are particularly relevant to their community. For example:
King County has developed a vision for the county for the year 2012. It reflects the collaboration of King County and the 33 cities working together to plan for economic and population growth. It includes successful public/private partnerships that have supported a stable and diverse economy, managed and accommodated growth, and maintained quality of life. Urban and rural areas are defined.
The King County consortium has developed a 5-year strategic plan to address its housing and community development needs. Its housing strategies were developed with a working group of consortium cities, nonprofit organizations, and housing developers.
The 1995-1999 King County Consortium Consolidated Plan lists five housing priorities:
Community development strategies for the 5-year plan were compiled from a number of different sources. High priorities include:
The county will make a priority of community development in its Urban Growth Area (UGA) to efficiently provide services to the greatest number of people. The UGA is composed of areas within the county where future commercial and residential growth is expected to occur.
In the King County Consortium, there are 54,963 households with incomes less than 50 percent of MFI. This is nearly 15 percent of households in the county. To expand economic opportunities for lower income residents, an emphasis will be placed on retaining and expanding higher wage jobs. The county will make an ongoing priority of fostering private/public partnerships to build the economic base of King County.
King County enlists the assistance of a variety of civic and community groups created to coordinate the housing and community development resources of the county. A partial listing of key groups and their participants includes:
King County has taken the lead in developing the Consolidated Plan and has
encouraged a collaborative effort among public, private, and nonprofit agencies.
Housing development specialists from the county and other jurisdictions meet
regularly with staff from other State and local funding programs to discuss
common application and contracting requirements. CDBG consortium cities meet
regularly with county staff to share information and coordinate resources. Over
the next 5 years, King County will continue cooperative community-based
strategies to design and implement housing and community development
During the first year of the Consolidated Plan, the King County consortium will allocate $12.5 million in CDBG, HOME, and ESG funds for more than 100 housing and community development projects, including:
MAP 2 depicts points of interest and low-moderate income areas.
MAP 3 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and minority concentration levels.
MAP 4 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and unemployment levels.
MAP 5 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects.
MAP 6 is a map, sectioned by neighborhood, which depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects.
MAP 7 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects within one of the four neighborhoods indicated in MAP 6.
MAP 8 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects within another of the four neighborhoods indicated in MAP 6.
MAP 9 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded project(s) from a street level vantage point; in addition, a table provides information about the project(s).