Seattle mayoral plans: Tiny homes and rental vouchers

SEATTLE -- Radical problems call for radical thinking when it comes to housing.

For Seattle mayoral candidate Jenny Durkan, it’s about expanding current programs farther than expected.

Take her proposal for rent. There are already federal housing vouchers based on income, but for the extremely poor.

Durkan wants a pilot project of $13 million to help 8,400 renters get an extra boost.

“There are so many people who are just one paycheck away or one sickness away from losing their home,” Durkan said.

And for those already on the streets, she wants a major investment for tiny homes -- 1,000 more spread across the city where all districts will share the burden.

Land use expert Alan Durning says supply is a huge cause of the squeeze.

“If we don’t provide enough housing, then we just bid up the price of every available scrap of housing, including all the way down to the bottom of the market,” Durning said.

He says we should consider Seattle the warning alarm for the region.

Mayoral candidate Cary Moon wants to start the housing affordability plan all over.

She is taking nothing off the table for creative ideas, from co-housing to the once-popular microhousing with companies like Apodments.

Durning supports them.

“Basically dorm rooms for grown-ups in the most sought-after neighborhoods in the city,” he said.

His research shows density is critical and inevitable to keep prices down.

But it’s a struggle for new developments to be welcomed by neighbors -- just like there is with tiny homes for re-housing those on the street.

Two candidates approaching the same problem, with at least one agreement.

“People just can’t wait. We need to do something today and immediately,” Durkan said.