• Council Roundup: Affordable Housing Strategy success

    Plus, Real ID implementation and ARCH housing recommendations 

    At this week’s extended study session, the City Council received a progress report on the city’s Affordable Housing Strategy, which was initially adopted in June 2017. 

    Since the Strategy’s adoption, 494 affordable housing units have been created in Bellevue, mostly as a result of direct subsidies and incentive programs. In 2019, the addition of $60 million in financing from a large technology company to the King County Housing Authority allowed the purchase of the Kendall Ridge apartments in Bellevue, preserving 240 low and moderate-income homes.

    Historically, Bellevue achieved less than 80 affordable homes a year prior to the Affordable Housing Strategy implementation. The target goal for the current plan is to achieve 2,500 affordable housing units over ten years. With a current pipeline of more than 900 homes, the Affordable Housing Strategy is on track to achieve its expected yield. 

    Staff presents progress updates on the Strategy twice a year. More details on Strategy actions, effectiveness and investment can be found in the meeting agenda item. The report is available on video replay through Bellevue Television.

    Real ID implementation

    The council also received an update on the upcoming implementation of the Real ID Act in Washington. Real ID establishes new minimum security standards for proper identification to access certain government facilities and travel by air.  

    A major part of the legislation is scheduled to go into effect in Washington on Oct. 1, 2020. At that time commercial airline travel (including domestic travel) will require passengers over the age of 18 to present Real ID-compliant identification to get through Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screening. A regular driver license will no longer be adequate. 

    In Washington, one state-issued option for Real ID-compliant documentation is an enhanced driver license. The Washington Department of Licensing anticipates increased demand for obtaining enhanced driver licenses ahead of October, which have a longer processing time than regular licenses. For that reason, they are encouraging people to plan ahead and start the process now if they think they will need an enhanced license to travel after October. 

    In addition to enhanced driver licenses, other forms of federally accepted identification can also be used, including a passport, military ID, or permanent resident card (green

    More information on Real ID is available at https://id2020wa.com/.  

    ARCH housing recommendations

    This week’s extended study session concluded with a presentation to the council on funding recommendations by A Regional Coalition for Housing (ARCH) for housing projects.

    The recommendations included five projects:
    1.    $750,000 for Samma Senior Apartments in Bothell, providing 54 affordable senior units, especially for veterans and homeless seniors.
    2.    $500,000 for the Eastside Men’s Shelter in Bellevue, supplying 100 year-round shelter beds for homeless men.
    3.    $575,000 for Polaris at Eastgate in Bellevue, which would provide 298 affordable rental housing units, especially for families with children and disabled community members.
    4.    $2.75 million for the redevelopment of the Together Center in Redmond, supplying 284 rental units for people earning between 30-60 percent of the annual median income, especially for homeless families.
    5.    $150,500 for an adult family home not sited yet and a shared living home in Newcastle for developmentally disabled community members with caretakers.

    The total current investment requested from Bellevue in the recommendation is $1.87 million. ARCH representatives pointed out that this amount represents two years of projects because no viable projects were funded in the previous year. 

    More information about the program can be found on the ARCH website and a detailed look at the funding request is in the agenda item.

    Councilmembers unanimously moved to direct staff to prepare legislation the council will review and take action on in a future meeting.

    Note: Due to a prior scheduling decision, the Bellevue City Council meeting on March 16, 2020, has been canceled. The council plans to resume regularly scheduled meetings on March 23, 2020. 

    Published on 03/11/2020