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Stepping Forward

UPDATE: In August 2014, the Seattle Housing Authority put forward for broader community discussion a proposal called Stepping Forward. The proposed changes to employment services support and rent policies for work-able adults other than elderly or disabled were designed to address three primary needs to:

  • Provide more people and families access to safe, decent, affordable housing
  • Encourage and better support economic self-sufficiency for work-able adults
  • Create a rent policy that is simple, fair and equitable

During an extensive community outreach process, concerns were raised about the lack of availability of jobs for residents despite increased training and support, and the potential impact of Stepping Forward rent policy proposals on current residents as a result. Seattle Housing put the proposal on hold in order to explore the concerns that were raised.

The information below and in related links was posted prior to the December 15, 2014 suspension of Stepping Forward and does not reflect currrent status.


Stepping Forward Rent Proposal

The need for affordable housing is great. Today, for every household Seattle Housing Authority serves, two more are seeking assistance. Over the next decade the demand is only expected to grow. Faced with this harsh reality, Seattle Housing is exploring how to better increase self-sufficiency and, ultimately, extend housing to more people.

In August 2014, Seattle Housing proposed a new approach to rent structure, and employment support for work-able households. Households are considered work-able if at least one person in the household is between 24 and 61 and does not have a disability that prevents them from working. It would provide enhanced education, training and employment services. It would also change how rent is calculated for those households.

With the belief that everyone wants to be able to take care of their own needs and support their family, the Housing Authority is seeking new ways to help those who are able to improve their circumstances and transition out of housing assistance.

Called Stepping Forward, this proposed change to rent policy would apply to about 4,600 work-able households. It has the following goals:

  • Provide more people and families access to safe, decent, affordable housing.
  • Encourage and better support economic self sufficiency for work-able adults.
  • Create a rent policy that is simple, fair and equitable.


The proposed rent policy was developed with input from and collaboration with leaders from the fields of housing, workforce development, and social services. Work-able tenants from a variety of Seattle Housing communities, Housing Choice Voucher participants, City of Seattle voters, people on the waiting list, employees and landlords were also consulted. Outreach and education will continue prior to any final decision by the Seattle Housing Authority.

Small group outreach and larger community meetings were held in August and September, and every Seattle Housing Authority household received information about the proposal in the mail, though not every household would be affected. A great deal of comments and questions were received.

The agency anticipates bringing a strategy with a proposed set of next steps to the Board of Commissioners in early 2015.

Seattle Housing Proposed Rent Changes Paired with Job Services

Today Proposal
Households are required to pay 30 percent of their monthly income for their housing costs. Employment services are not broadly available, and many households lack a connection to existing resources. Establish fixed rent levels that would increase over six to eight years and provide more workforce training and education. A workforce assessment and plan is required for every work-able adult.

Rent Policy for Work-Able Households

Work-able households in this new program would see their rents increase every couple of years, giving them time to participate in training and progress toward higher-paying employment and self-sufficiency. The Stepping Forward program would apply to tenants living in public housing and to those renting with a Housing Choice Voucher. The chart below illustrates potential rent levels. These numbers are provided for illustration purposes and do not necessarily reflect future rent charges.

Sample Rent Studio 1 bdrm 2 bdrm 3 bdrm 4+ bdrm
Year 1 $130 $140 $160 $170 $180
Year 2 and 3 $290 $310 $360 $400 $420
Year 4 and 5 $440 $480 $560 $630 $680
Year 6 and 7 $680 $720 $850 $970 $1060
Additional Step? ? ? ? ? ?

Key Points - Proposed Rent Structure

  • Rents are based on home size and length of participation.
  • Over time, subsidy decreases and household share increases. All rents remain below market for low-income households.
  • Training and support are offered to help participants progress in the workplace and gain the capacity to pay higher rents.
  • Rent amounts and increases will be clearly communicated in advance, allowing households to prepare and plan.
  • As a household’s income rises, it may retain the additional money, since rent is not tied to income.
  • Households with no work-able adults would continue to pay rent based on their income.
  • Households experiencing hardship will receive support.

Workforce Training and Education

A key component of this approach is engaging every work-able adult in a workforce assessment and plan and making employment services available to help tenants succeed. The Housing Authority has been working with experts to better support and provide more resources to help tenants prepare for and gain living-wage jobs.

As part of Stepping Forward, every work-able tenant will be required to participate in a workforce assessment. With help from a workforce professional, each participant will develop an individualized plan to secure employment. The workforce support system will also include connections to resources and referrals, the higher education system and other employment programs.

Key Points - Workforce Opportunities

  • Workforce and education assessments for
    all work-able adults.
  • Each work-able adult develops an education and
    employment plan.
  • Ongoing support includes connections to resources
    and services.

See Frequently Asked Questions about Stepping Forward

Stepping Forward Factsheet - Translations