King County Releases a New Dashboard to Help Region Track Affordable Housing Efforts

One of the stumbling blocks for collective action around affordable housing in King County has been the lack of accessible and consistent data. The new King County Regional Affordable Housing Dashboard fills that gap. This is the region’s first countywide dashboard to monitor key affordable indicators and reflects work by dozens of policy staff, data analysts, and affordable housing operators across the region to create a new database of all income-restricted units.

Elected officials who need to look up a housing indicator, analysts who need raw data, and advocates who need helpful charts can now get those materials on the dashboard. This dashboard is also designed to help the Affordable Housing Committee monitor regional progress by showing what actions have been taken across the region to alleviate cost burden, who is most affected by it, and where there is the most housing need. A wide variety of affordable housing data – from housing policies to transit-oriented development and displacement – are also available for download either as raw data or charts.

The dashboard shines a light on regional progress

On any given day, King County residents are flooded with stories about bidding wars for houses and skyrocketing rents. The latest US Census data confirms that 68 percent of low-income households in King County are cost burdened, meaning they spent more than 30 percent of their income on housing in 2019.

Some other key findings are: 

The region needs to build or preserve 44,000 homes affordable to households with incomes at or below 50 percent area median income (AMI) between 2019 and 2024. To date 1,595 affordable units, or 3.6 percent have been created, leaving a remaining gap of 42,405 units.

Cost burden is unevenly distributed among King County residents based on income, race and ethnicity, whether someone owns or rents, and age. Among extremely low-income households (0-30 percent AMI) in King County, 85 percent were cost burdened, as opposed to 10 percent of moderate- to high-income households (over 80 percent AMI). Race is another area where cost burden falls disproportionately on Black, Native American/Indian and Hispanic households.

King County lacks an adequate supply of affordable homes for the lowest income renters who must compete with all higher-income households for the limited number of rental homes affordable to them in the private market. Only 27 units are affordable and available for every 100 extremely low-income households (0-30 percent AMI).

Efforts are underway to address the lack of housing options for low-income households

To spur the County and cities to collective action, the King County Regional Affordable Housing Task Force adopted a Five Year Action Plan in 2018 . The Task Force set a bold and ambitious overarching goal—to eliminate housing cost burden for low-income households by 2040 and called on the County to create a dashboard to track affordable housing efforts, needs, and policies, and measure how well the region is reaching the goal of 44,000 new or preserved affordable housing units by 2024.

The King County Affordable Housing Committee was formed shortly after in 2019 to oversee the implementation of that plan. The Committee is unique for being a multi-sector group of elected officials, business leaders, advocates and philanthropy. Guided by the belief that affordable housing is a regional problem requiring a regional solution, their role is to recommend action, assess progress, and function as a point of coordination and accountability for affordable housing efforts across King County.