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Seattle’s unaffordability expands

Renton and the rest of King County rents rise

As reported in the Seattle Times, one sign of the increasing difficulty of finding a place to rent is to look at those who rely on vouchers. People get Section 8 vouchers to subsidize housing costs, but the vouchers are limited. The renters still have to find some place cheap enough to live. That meant 1,938 people switched from looking inside the city to other places, while only 276 tried moving into Seattle.

Commutes make the difference. If a person can afford the time and cost of a longer commute, it makes sense to move out. Some, however, have commutes that aren’t accommodated by available solutions so they have to move back in, or at least try.

Places like Renton had been refuges, but Renton’s rents are now within 10 percent of Seattle’s. As rents rise, even long term renters are finding themselves priced out of the solutions they found years ago. Landlords with the option may choose to not accept vouchers; so, even if the voucher would make the space affordable, the renter must find some other place.

In an echo of the people buying in Seattle’s real estate market, each available apartment can have over a dozen applicants.

Aside from housing-discrimination enforcement, there are few choices except to head up or down I-5, out I-90, or cross the water while hopefully maintaining a sustainable commute.

Like canaries and coal mines, some people are particularly well-suited to demonstrate what’s happening to our housing. Where are they going to fly to next?