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People Are Camping Out For a Shot at Seattle Affordable Housing

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The shot at an affordable three-bedroom apartment close to public transporation has some Seattlites going the extra mile.

In August 2014 we took a look at plans for Beacon Hill's Plaza Roberto Maestas, a mixed-use affordable housing project that would include housing for people between making between 30 and 60 percent of area median income, micro-retail spaces, a childcare center and more. Named for social justice advocate Roberto Maestras and built with affordability in mind, the expectation was that interest in the 112 available units would be high.

The expectation certainly wasn't this.

People begin lining up on Sunday afternoon, 24 hours before they could apply for a chance to live in the new Roberto Maestas Plaza. They nap in their tents or in their cars, and the small crowd keeps growing. By 8:30 Monday morning, 60 people waited.

After the three-hour application period finally opened at 4 p.m., El Centro de la Raza received more than 450 applications for affordable housing in the Plaza Maestas, which won’t even open until July. There are only 112 units available.

If you've kept your eye on development in Seattle in the last decade, you know how rare a complex like this can be. Unlike downtown development, most of the units here will by multi-bedroom. It's situated less than a mile from a light rail stop, library, market, and elementary school.

So, considering applications were first-come-first-serve, people slept in their cars out front, pitched a tent or made sure to wake up at 3:00 a.m. just to be one of the first to submit theirs.

As David Kroman of Crosscut reminds us, it took nine years for Roberto Maestas Plaza to be developed and only happened because of city, state, federal and fundraising funding. HALA's goal of bringing 6,000 affordable-housing units to the market over ten years can't happen soon enough and the drips and drabs that developers pepper into their market-rate complexes are nice but not enough.
· Hundreds vie for a chance at affordable housing [CC] · Plaza Roberto Maestas Hopes to Live up To Its Namesake [CS] · HALA Proposal Drives 'Grand Bargain' for Affordable Housing [CS]