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SRM and the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle (ULMS) have teamed to permanently preserve 354 housing units for affordable housing in Seattle. The homes are in six apartment buildings in the Eastlake, Lower Queen Anne, Roosevelt, and West Seattle neighborhoods.

The properties, which include small efficiency dwelling units, will serve residents with incomes ranging from 50% of the area median income (AMI) and below to 80% of the AMI. Affordable rents will be preserved for 99 years, with increases not exceeding 3% per year for income-qualified residents, according to the team.

“To preserve this number of units at these rents is a once-in-a-blue-moon opportunity,” said Conor Hansen, managing principal of affordable housing at SRM, a privately owned real estate company, specializing in multifamily, senior, affordable, and mixed-use housing development. “Bringing brand-new units to market can take up to five years, and, with rents rapidly rising, we knew there was urgent need to preserve affordability now by purchasing these new, high-quality buildings. We would not be here without the vision, strong partnership, and commitment from the Urban League, Amazon, and the city of Seattle’s Office of Housing. These are the partnerships we need to battle our affordable housing crisis.”

The $97 million deal would not have been possible without financial support from Amazon’s Housing Equity Fund and Seattle’s Office of Housing, which creates the opportunity for long-term affordability for residents with low- and moderate-incomes, said officials.

Amazon is providing $37.9 million in funding as part of the project financing through its Housing Equity Fund, which finances below-market loans and grants to preserve and create affordable homes for individuals and families earning moderate to low incomes. As equal owners, SRM and ULMS will be responsible to oversee the affordability of these buildings over the course of the 20-year Amazon loan, and, once the loan is repaid, SRM will donate its ownership share to ULMS so that it may own the properties in perpetuity.

“Preservation of existing affordability is one of the most effective ways to address housing affordability challenges in the Puget Sound and is a key element of our work,” said Catherine Buell, director of the Amazon Housing Equity Fund.

Additionally, Seattle’s Office of Housing will provide $38 million for units that will be affordable for low-income residents with incomes up to 60% of the AMI. The office’s acquisition and preservation program finances strategic site acquisitions that expand affordable housing opportunities throughout the city. The six newly acquired buildings are in high-opportunity, high-displacement risk neighborhoods and reflect the city’s commitment to cultivate new partnerships and make investments to preserve affordable housing in areas where otherwise new production would be costly to develop, according to officials.

Other partners include JLL, the lender representing Amazon, and Fannie Mae, senior loan provider.

The six properties in the deal are:

· The Alloy, located in lower Queen Anne, featuring 68 units;
· Brooklyn 65 in the Roosevelt neighborhood and featuring 55 units;
· Luna, featuring 71 units in the Roosevelt neighborhood;
· Track 66, located in Ravenna and featuring 75 units;
· Vega, 58 units in the Junction neighborhood; and
· Yale in Eastlake featuring 27 units.

“We have been looking for opportunities to expand our work in affordable housing and fortuitously connected with SRM as they were looking for partners that could help them in this acquisition,” said ULMS CEO Michelle Merriweather. “We were all at the right place at the right time to make this size of a deal come together.”