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Seattle Neighbor: Isabella Price. Filmmaker. Activist for social, racial, and LGBTQIA+ justice.
Neighborhood: The Central District.
Home: A queer & trans people of color co-op of 3-4 roommates inside a single family house.
Every individual has a set of precursors that filter through their housing options despite their housing desires. A tight budget and the fact that Isabella relies on public transportation largely informed her living options.
Our Seattle Neighbor is like many of us. She doesn’t want a huge commute. But she also can’t. This transit dependency matches only 10 percent of Seattle riders, according to a 2016 King County Metro survey. Unfortunately for her—and for many—most of Seattle’s zoning (as in, building height restrictions) maintains sprawl. This means that as more and more people come to Seattle, more and more must drive to work.
At the crux of all this information is the point that denser neighborhoods drive less. They have more access to amenities, transit, and community. They also have an easier time getting to work. Data show that single family, detached unit houses predominantly drive. The data also show that even within that the single family housing type, if those houses are simply closer together, they drive less. And that’s honestly no mistake.
Seattle’s own Sound Transit determines bus routes by the numbers. In other words, the denser the neighborhood, the more likely a bus route will appear. In fact, King County’s Strategic Plan for Public Transportation through 2021 measures its success by the “percent of the population at 15 dwelling units per acre within one-fourth of a mile walk.” The higher the percent, the better their success. This is density without calling it density.
So, Isabella couldn’t drive. She needed to stay within city limits, but with a limited budget. The future looked unfavorable. As she searched for housing, the median detached Seattle home was $1 million and the typical Seattle rent was approximately $1,900 for a single bed in 2017. Talk about a dilemma. And a familiar one at that.
Then she saw it. A craigslist ad. They were looking for people like her. It was a co-op. This meant shared ownership with restrictions and binding agreements on rent to some variation. It sounded like a community of people who would understand her. It was affordable because of the housemates in it, the creation of this type of housing, and because of the co-op agreement itself. It was a space that gave a home to multiple people rather than a select few. These combinations made living in Seattle a viable reality for Isabella. It’s combinations like this that maintain Seattle’s access, equity, and affordability for our neighbors.
We are #SeattleNeighbors.
Seattle needs more homes, of all shapes and sizes, for all our neighbors.