For decades, it lived quietly in the shadow of cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles. Seattle is now the fastest growing city in the U.S., thanks to business giants like Microsoft, Boeing, Starbucks and Amazon.
CGTN’s May Lee reports.
According to the Downtown Seattle Association, there’s more than $5 billion in construction activity right now. That’s a 40 percent increase over last year and more than triple its lowest point in 2011.
A major reason for the enormous growth is Amazon. The e-commerce giant is bursting at the seams with more than 24,000 employees in Seattle alone. Amazon’s expansion is a boon for commercial and residential development.
Amazon employees along with other giants including Google, Facebook and several bio-techs need housing, which is in short supply. Developers are trying to meet the growing demand.
But even with all the construction and development, there’s still an incredible shortage of housing. Rent has gone up nearly 60 percent in the last six years and expected to keep climbing. Not everyone can keep up with this pace, which means people are being priced out and some even pushed onto the streets.
Mercy Housing, a non-profit organization, builds affordable housing across the U.S. The 108 unit Mercy Othello Plaza is the newest project in Seattle. 2,000 plus applications were submitted in just days and the complex leased out in less than two months.
The challenge is to keep up with the demand. The good news is, the public wants to help.
“Without question the visibility of the issues of homelessness and affordable housing are much more visible now than they ever were. I find heart in that.” Paul Chiocco of Mercy Housing said. “I find hope in that people are actually more aware of it and are willing to think about it and contribute toward it.”
Last year, Seattle voters overwhelmingly approved a seven-year levy to raise $290 million for low income housing. A much needed boost given the seemingly unstoppable growth of the Emerald City.