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2010 Annual Report: Building
With Partners

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Our partners make all the difference in our success

"We could not do it without you!" That is the message I want to deliver to each and every business, nonprofit and government agency that partners with us.

Tom Tierney

You make a huge difference in our ability to meet our mission of fostering self-sufficiency and creating decent, safe and affordable housing. Together we are building a viable future for Seattle's low-income residents – a future of choice and opportunity where a safe and healthy home is the foundation for success.

As we face tough economic times, the partnerships we have forged over the past several decades allow us to make the most of limited resources. Sometimes we financially support the efforts of our nonprofit partners through rent subsidies and vouchers. At other times, we are the direct recipients of funding and services – from HUD, from the City of Seattle, and from our development partners. We have seen the fruits of our partnerships this year as we opened new housing at Tamarack Place in Rainier Vista, as we made important capital repairs to buildings such as Denny Terrace and Schwabacher House, and as we provided compassionate assistance to elderly and disabled residents throughout our public housing buildings. Without support from our partners, we simply could not have developed the new and rehabilitated housing we completed in 2010.

I wish we could name and recognize each one of our supporters and partners, but we have space in this report to specifically name only a few. Even so, both our board and staff extend our sincere appreciation for all of the ways that our committed partners share in our dedication to serving Seattle's low-income residents.

—Tom Tierney, Executive Director

Highlights of 2010 achievements

Lake City Court takes shape

Lake City Court

Due for completion in 2011, Lake City Court features solar collectors to supplement the hot water supply, photovoltaic panels to create electricity from the sun, and additional insulation and material choices made with sustainability in mind.

Located just north of NE 125th St, between 33rd and 35th Ave NE, the project is built on the site of the former Lake City Village, a group of 16 townhomes built in the 1960s. Plagued by chronic flood conditions, the townhomes were demolished a decade ago. Drainage problems have been corrected, and the new housing is being built around a courtyard, with a nearby computer lab and play areas for children.

The project received $8 million in ARRA funding, and a HUD grant of $10.5 million. Enterprise Community Partners has provided the balance of the financing. The 4-story elevator-equipped Lake City Court building will be comprised of 1-, 2-, 3- and 4-bedroom units and will be completely non-smoking. Parking options will include an underground parking garage for 90 vehicles as well as indoor and outdoor covered bicycle parking.

Moving toward smoke-free housing

Breathe-Easy Smoke-Free Housing CampaignCigarette smoking was banned in all Seattle Senior Housing Program apartment buildings beginning in August 2010. A large majority of residents (71 percent) favored the change. The transition has gone smoothly, with relatively few enforcement problems.

In October, Seattle Housing was awarded a $150,000 two-year grant from Public Health – Seattle & King County to explore extending these non-smoking policies to up to 6,500 additional housing units. Seattle Housing is using the grant to investigate what it would take to implement a 100 percent non-smoking policy.

The agency hired a coordinator to implement the program and spearhead stakeholder involvement. Surveys and meetings throughout Seattle Housing developments will provide an opportunity for residents to participate in policy formation.

Meeting the bedbug challenge

As bedbug problems have surfaced nationwide, Seattle Housing has taken an aggressive approach to treatment, which has included the use of a bedbug-sniffing dog, advanced heat treatment equipment and assistance to residents.

An integrated pest management strategy has coordinated efforts to ensure that all bedbugs are eradicated and a resurgence of the infestation is prevented. In 2010, Seattle Housing Authority provided 378 hours of support to tenants through a contract with Full Life Care.

Key performance indicators for 2010

Percent of Housing Choice Vouchers in use
serving tenants at the end of 2010
Number of people served
Number of households served
Increase in households served
Vacancy rate in Public Housing
Number of households on waiting list
New waiting-list applicants per month
Job placements through The Job Connection
100%

28,000+
16,984
185/1.1%
2%
24,647
869
162

Increases in housing stock

With the completion of Tamarack Place at Rainier Vista, Seattle Housing Authority added 83 units of affordable housing in 2010. Of these, 51 are public housing units and 32 are affordable tax-credit units. Under its program to increase the number of units that meet Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards, Seattle Housing created or modified an additional 25 units.

New special purpose vouchers added

Seattle Housing Authority received 165 new special purpose vouchers in 2010. One hundred of these are "Family Unification Program" vouchers and 20 of these are earmarked for young adults who are aging out of the foster care system and may face homelessness. The other 80 will be made available to families whose inadequate housing is the primary cause of separation or near-separation from their children.

An additional 60 vouchers were awarded through the Veterans Assistance Supportive Housing program. Through this program, the agency works with Veterans Affairs, which identifies homeless veterans who can benefit from housing assistance and provide them clinical and supportive services before and after they're housed.

Operating revenues and expenses

Because of continued federal support for low-income housing and stimulus funding, Seattle Housing experienced increases in revenues and expenses from 2009 to 2010. Operating revenues increased by 9.3 percent or $13.4 million, and operating expenses increased by 8.9 percent or approximately $13 million.

Operating Expenses Chart

2010 Operating Expenses compared to 2009 in millions.

 

Operating Revenues Chart

2010 Operating Revenues compared to 2009 in millions.

 

Building With Partners

By working with partners through the Low-Income Tax Credit program, Seattle Housing has leveraged its own resources to build 1,605 new housing units and make major repairs to 2,126 existing units.

Capital Assets and Unit Breakdown

 

The Low-Income Tax Credit program pairs builders of low-income housing with investors seeking to offset their federal tax obligations. Participating investors receive an income tax credit by becoming owners of low-income housing developments in partnership with the organization that builds and operates the housing.

Since its creating by Congress as part of the Tax Reform Act of 1986, the program has been the federal government's major method of funding new developments and major renovations of housing for low- and moderate-income households. Seattle Housing began using the program in the late 1990s. It has been instrumental in the redevelopment and creation of new public housing at NewHolly, Rainier Vista, High Point and Lake City Court. The program has also been used to fund major repairs at public housing high-rises through the homeWorks project, which updated 21 buildings including 1,977 units.

Seattle Housing is the general partner in 15 real estate limited partnerships. As the general partner, the agency retains overall control of the maintenance and management of the properties, and works with the limited partners to satisfy the legal obligations of the partnership. This typically involves certifying resident eligibility annually and physical inspections of the buildings periodically to ensure tax credit regulations are being met. The tax advantages of participating in a low-income partnership expire after about 15 years, at which time full ownership of the property can revert back to the general partner. This year, the Holly Park Limited Partnership was dissolved. The full value of the property – $25.5 million – is now reflected on the Housing Authority's books.

City of Seattle provides $3 million for renovations 

Olmsted Manor now

Olmsted Manor now


Olmsted Manor proposed

Olmsted Manor proposed

The City of Seattle's Office of Housing awarded $3 million for the renovation of four properties in the Seattle Senior Housing Programs. These apartments for low-income seniors were built in the 1980s, and a recent assessment showed several buildings were suffering from serious water intrusion problems.

The four properties include Olmsted Manor near Green Lake, Bitter Lake Manor in North Seattle, Blakely Manor near the University of Washington and Nelson Manor in Ballard. The $3 million in capital funding will be matched with Seattle Housing Authority funds. Substantial repairs in all four buildings are aimed at extending their useful life, correcting problems of aging and water intrusion and improving their energy efficiency.

The funding is made available through the 2009 Housing Levy capital funds. Along with the $3 million to Seattle Housing Authority, the Office of Housing provided an additional $20 million to other housing developers to support the preservation or development of affordable multifamily rental housing.

Tamarack Place added 83 low-income apartments near Link light rail 
Construction on Tamarack Place began in September 2009 after an infusion of $3.2 million in stimulus funding. The building was completed in November 2010 and all apartments were rented by the year's end. The new mixed-use, four-story building offers 7,600 square feet of ground floor retail space and 83 low-income apartments ranging from one to three bedrooms.

Tamarack Place Grand Opening

Executive Director Tom Tierney speaks to a crowd gathered at the Tamarack Place Grand Opening. Photo courtesy Tom Long, Sound Transit


The total project cost of $17.1 million provides a great example of the power of building with partners. The breakdown of funding includes $3.2 million in ARRA funds, $3 million in HOPE VI funds, $4.2 million in Seattle Housing Authority funds, $3.4 million in Low-Income Housing Tax Credit funding provided by Boston Capital, a $1.9 million Seattle Housing Authority commercial loan, funding of $1.4 million from other sources, and a $10.9 million Chase Bank loan during construction.

Financials

The Seattle Housing Authority made significant progress in 2010 in bringing down its total debt, which decreased by $8.6 million.

The largest single decrease in debt resulted from paying off a bridge bond for Phase III of the homeWorks project, in the amount of $8.2 million. During 2010, the percentage of total debt to net capital assets decreased from 55.1 percent to 51.7 percent. Total net assets of the organization increased by $22.4 million or 5.8 percent. This was chiefly the result of two factors: contributions of stimulus funding from HUD, which was used for building rehab and construction, and increased funding for the Housing Choice Voucher program.

During 2010, Seattle Housing decreased by $11 million its current liabilities (defined as obligations due within the next 12 months). This resulted in an improvement in the agency's current ratio, from 1.22 to 1.40. The current ratio is a financial ratio that indicates the ability of an organization to meet its financial obligations within the next year.

In addition, one of the authority's component units, the Holly Park Limited Partnership was dissolved during the year. This was a partnership formed in connection with the use of Low-Income Tax Credits when Phase I of NewHolly was redeveloped. All assets and liabilities of the partnership were assumed by the agency. The transaction resulted in a net gain of $3.2 million.

Seattle Housing's 2010-2015 Strategic Plan

In September, a new strategic plan was adopted that affirms the housing authority's core commitments, addresses foreseeable challenges and opportunities, and maps the agency's course for the next five years.

Five strategic directions over the next five years:

Expand housing opportunities for low-income residents across Seattle by maintaining and expanding the supply of low-income housing stock.

Expand housing access and choice for low-income residents using Housing Choice vouchers.

Assist housing participants in gaining access to education and employment opportunities so they can improve their lives.

Provide additional services to, and increase the stock of housing for, low-income seniors.

Partner with others to create healthy, welcoming and supportive living environments in Seattle Housing Authority communities.

Three management strategies to succeed in following the strategic directions:

Manage the Seattle Housing Authority as effectively as possible to meet the agency's mission.

Identify and implement sustainable practices throughout the agency to minimize impact on the environment.

Promote a healthy, engaged and productive workforce.

Recognition for development, best practices

The Yesler Terrace redevelopment project received a Recognition Award for promoting sustainable growth from the Quality Growth Alliance.

The Rainier Vista redevelopment project received a Merit Award from the American Institute of Architects for the high quality of its overall design.

Seattle Housing won a Merit Award from the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO) for policies and materials developed to serve clients with limited English proficiency.

The Housing Authority Insurance Group presented the agency with a 2010 Best Practice Award for the Safety Hot Topic Program, which is a communication program aimed at reducing work-related accidents and worker compensation costs.

For the thirteenth year in a row, the agency received a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association of the U.S. and Canada for the 2009 fiscal year.