Seattle Housing Authority provides housing units or rent subsidies to more than 26,000 low-income individuals. As one of the largest landlords in the state, the agency has a responsibility to its tenants and the greater community to manage and maintain its properties well, use its resources wisely and plan ahead to meet the changing needs of Seattle’s low-income residents.
Asset management means using each property to its full potential to achieve Seattle Housing Authority’s mission—enhancing the Seattle community by creating and sustaining decent, safe and affordable living environments that foster stability and increase self-sufficiency for people with low incomes—while also maintaining the overall financial health of the agency.
It requires flexibility, to be able to take advantage of new opportunities or address the consequences of changes in funding or regulations. It also looks at sustainability, to ensure that the agency’s housing stock is available and affordable to low-income people for decades to come.
Almost all Seattle Housing Authority-owned housing was built between 1939 and the mid-1980’s. Except for redeveloped properties at NewHolly, Rainier Vista and High Point, even the newest housing is now more than 25 years old. The result is an aging portfolio with some functional obsolescence, and large and escalating capital needs.
Seattle Housing Authority also depends on federal funding to keep much of its housing affordable for extremely low-income people. In recent years, far-reaching new rules have been enacted and funding priorities have shifted, and the agency is operating in an era of considerable uncertainty, about both future program requirements and funding levels.
Furthermore, among the thousands of people served by Seattle Housing Authority, a large percentage are seniors, children, people with disabilities, recent immigrants and refugees, families facing welfare time limits, and people with low-wage jobs. This mixture of residents presents many challenges, including keeping buildings and communities safe and comfortable for residents with diverse and sometimes incompatible lifestyles, while at the same time supplementing housing with services that help residents toward self-sufficiency.
Moving to new Ways (MTW)
The asset management approach has highlighted many areas where federal requirements inhibit Seattle Housing Authority’s ability to operate efficiently and serve the community effectively.
Fortunately, since 1999 the agency is one of about 30 housing authorities across the country participating in the Moving to new Ways (MTW) demonstration program developed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
This program allows Seattle Housing Authority to test innovative methods to improve housing delivery to better meet local needs. While in MTW, the agency may propose and implement alternatives to national regulations for issues spelled out in an amended and restated agreement signed in December 2008 (PDF, 3.18 MB, download Adobe Reader).
Each year, Seattle Housing Authority prepares MTW plans and reports. The plans describe activities planned for the following fiscal year, while the reports cover the agency’s accomplishments in the previous fiscal year.