The SeaTac City Council at its Tuesday night meeting (Jan. 23, 2024) voted to approve a $300,000 contract to join South King Housing & Homelessness Partners (SKHHP) to bring affordable housing to SeaTac.

Formed in 2019, SKHHP is an Interlocal Agreement between cities in South King County dedicated to the creation and preservation of affordable housing in the region.

The proposal was originally brought before the council at the Nov. 28, 2023, city council meeting. Following a motion and a second on the motion to approve, the City Council remanded the matter to the PED Committee for further discussion.

On Dec. 18, 2023, the PED Committee recommended that the City enter into an Interlocal Agreement with SKHHP through a companion agreement, approving the 2024 South King Housing and Homelessness Partners work plan and budget, and authorizing the use of $300,000 of General Fund money currently budgeted for human services for a contribution to the Housing Capital Fund.

When given the opportunity to comment, Councilmember Senayet Negusse requested that, should SKHHP pass, that the Council expand SKHHP’s goals to include and emphasize the expansion of home ownership and to include SeaTac specific goals and indicators to be evaluated annually for efficacy by the council. Councilmember Negusse stated, “If we’re going to have a seat at this table, I want us to have a loud voice.”

Councilmember Peter Kwon also expressed some hesitations, citing that SKHHP has of yet not proven a successful track record or metrics of success and reminded the council that – though SKHHP’s Interlocal Agreement was a regional effort – the council represents the residents of SeaTac, not of the entire region.

Councilmember Jake Simpson disagreed that SKHHP had no successful track record, citing the funding of two building projects in Burien as proof that SKHHP was doing good work and doing it quickly.

Councilmember James Lovell addressed two concerns he had been made aware of from residents, the first being the belief that there is no homeless population in SeaTac, the second that a sum as large as $300,000 should stay in SeaTac and not be used to help other larger cities in the region.

To the first point, Councilmember Lovell simply stated that SeaTac does indeed have a homeless population as is evidenced by all objective data available. He went on to explain that there are many types of homelessness which includes visible homelessness (such as people living in tents or cars) and homelessness you don’t see, such as a family losing their home or being evicted and are forced to live with relatives. According to the data, there are both types of homelessness in SeaTac.

Lovell went on to encourage residents to “…[not] confuse your experiences with the data. Just because you haven’t seen it doesn’t mean it’s not there.”

To the second objection from residents, Councilmember Lovell pointed out that pooling funds gains critical mass. The regional approach of SKHHP ensures that there are enough committed partners on every level to get housing built and operational. With the regional housing crisis being what it is, SeaTac needs thousands of units, units it cannot afford on its own.

When put to a vote, the motion passed unanimously.

You can watch all past council meetings on the City of SeaTac’s website.