King County Announces Funding Awards for Two Affordable Housing Projects in Skyway-West Hill

King County Department of Community and Human Services (DCHS) is pleased to announce awards to develop two new affordable housing projects in the Skyway-West Hill neighborhood (SWH). Following years of community organizing, $5 million was successfully secured in King County’s 2021-22 Biennial Budget in the Housing and Community Development Fund to directly address displacement and housing affordability in the area.

Two organizations will receive funding to bring approximately 100 units of affordable housing to the Skyway-West Hill neighborhood.

  • Homestead Community Land Trust in partnership with Skyway Coalition was awarded $2.5 million and will develop up to 53 permanently affordable homeownership units serving households at 50-80% AMI.
  • Low-Income Housing Institute in Partnership with Childhaven was awarded $2.5 million to develop up to 43 units of affordable rental housing for households at 30-50% AMI.

“The majority of potential homebuyers can’t afford to buy a home in King County, and the pain is acute in areas south of Seattle as many are pushed out of the city by rising costs. King County’s investment in our work with Skyway Coalition will fund a legacy of affordability that will create homeownership opportunities and prevent displacement for this generation and generations to come. This is a visionary investment powered by community engagement,” said Kathleen Hosfeld, Executive Director, Homestead Community Land Trust.

“This funding is the outcome of so much community power,” said Rebecca Berry, manager at Skyway Coalition. “The Skyway community drove the advocacy for the allocation of these funds, created a vision to increase homeownership in Skyway and established our partnership with Homestead Community Land Trust. It is inspiring to see Skyway modeling what can be done when the community’s voices and needs are centered in development. With this investment in Skyway, many of our Black, Indigenous and families of color will have an opportunity to own a house in the community they call home, a place that is reflective of, and celebrates their identity and lived experiences.”

“This funding is a huge win for Skyway. Thank you to King County for addressing the unique needs of the community, and centering the voices of Black, Indigenous, and people of color for equitable development,” said Sharon Lee, Executive Director of the Low Income Housing Institute. “LIHI is very grateful to be able to continue our partnership with the Skyway community. Since the opening of Progressive Skyway Tiny House Village for families we have been dedicated to expanding critically needed affordable housing. We know that many residents of Skyway are challenged by rising rents and want the ability to stay living in Skyway.”

Skyway-West Hill is an unincorporated area of King County. The population in SWH is primarily Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC), making up 64 percent of the residents. The combination of rising land costs, rising house prices, and lower incomes make for higher displacement risks. Community input beginning in 2019 helped inform a recent Skyway-West Hill and North Highline Anti-Displacement Strategies Report released late last year.

“Systemic racism has negatively impacted Skyway. Rapidly rising housing costs threaten the diversity and vibrancy of the community,” said Jon Gould, Community Impact and Government Relations at Childhaven. “Affordable rental housing and homeownership is urgently needed in Skyway to buffer against displacement. We value King County investing in Skyway’s community priorities, including affordable housing and community development. Childhaven is honored to be in Skyway and contribute to community priorities such as affordable housing and early learning. We look forward to continuing to work with and learn from the Skyway community on this and other community priorities.”

King County DCHS began engaging with residents about the changing area and created a Community Advisory Committee (CAC) to co-develop the request for proposal (RFP) for the $5 million affordable housing fund. Councilmember Zahilay championed efforts to secure funding and engage with the community on the serious risk of displacement. DCHS and the CAC worked together over several months to co-develop the RFP and held community meetings to include feedback. A separate review panel comprised of several CAC members and County staff selected the two partnerships for funding.

CAC member, Suzette Cruz shared her experience working on the committee and developing the RFP.

“For many years there has been disinvestment in the Skyway area, not investment, and quite often residents have felt left out of the decision-making process,” said Cruz. “This committee led with ‘nothing about us without us’ and we put that value into action by creating the RFP and bringing in community members from the beginning. BIPOC voices were front and center in this process and it is BIPOC working toward solutions to help mitigate past harm. For me, the greatest value in this process is creating a pathway to affordable housing for people who have been pushed out of Skyway to come back to the community.”

The funding will help with predevelopment, acquisition, and construction. DCHS will begin contracting with the selected organizations in June.