NAHB – July 2019

Seamless Design and Community Engagement Critical to Affordable Housing Success

The Seattle Housing Authority’s (SHA) redevelopment of one of its properties, Rainier Vista, transformed the surrounding community. The large-scale project replaced 481 deteriorating public housing units from the 1940s with a new mixed-income, mixed-use community of 1,092 residential units with office, retail, services and recreational space.

Located in the heart of the Rainier Valley, Rainier Vista was one of three SHA communities originally built to house defense workers during World War II. By the early 1950s, the wood-frame buildings were designated as public housing.

Today, Rainier Vista is a culturally diverse community. The project emerged over the course over of a decade, starting with the award of a $35 million HOPE IV grant in 1999 and wrapping up with the final phase of market-rate housing in the 2010s. The financing of the new construction of public housing units, with market-rate and affordable homes, was a delicate balancing act, with the Great Recession slicing through the middle of the project timeline.

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