Housing Alternatives

Welcome to the Alternative Housing page!

Below is an audio clip offering a brief summary of the impacts of a lack of affordable housing and shelters. The information was acquired through research, articles about housing options, and conversations.

Homeless Shelter: Compass Housing Alliance Interview

Below is a transcript of a phone interview Austin Hackett, a senior at Seattle Pacific University, conducted with Tyler Roush, the Communications Manager at Compass Housing Alliance. Compass Housing Alliance aims to make sure everybody in the Puget Sound area has access to necessary resources to live safely such as shelter and a caring community. Tyler provided some insight about Compass, homelessness and shelters.

A: What does Compass do and what is the goal of compass?

T: Compass Housing Alliance is an affordable housing and shelter provider in Seattle. We provide a safe place to live for those in homeless housing or transitional housing. We also offer overnight centers, day services and hygiene centers. Our vision is to create a safe and caring community for all and to move people out of homelessness and into safe communities.

A: Why do you think there are so many homeless residents in Seattle?

T: The causes of homelessness are very complex and there are many reasons for it. People often have misconceptions about those who are homeless assuming they are addicted to drugs or alcohol. There are actually several barriers to housing such as mental illness, lack of education, lack of finance, loss of a job or not saving. Everybody does not have the same opportunities. Homelessness can happen to people despite doing no wrong. Drug and alcohol use can be coping mechanisms for hard times. Services need to be known and communicated throughout the community because in Seattle services are available. People needing shelter can access something like Compass.

A: What can we do to fix this problem? Or what are some steps we can take to make progress in the right direction?

T: We can put people in touch with the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance. This way people can avoid evictions. There are affordable housing developments in legislature and these help advocate good programs. People need to stay informed on policies at a state level. Seattle is currently looking into an affordable housing linkage fee. The amounts are in negotiation but it would pay into a fund for affordable housing. There is a need for more affordable work force housing for people not bringing home enough money. The continued existence of places like Tent City also help since there is not enough housing or shelter capacity. Tent City is a great place for protection and support for those living outside. Volunteers and donations also help and we are always looking for more of those.

A: How can people in smaller areas, that do not have the resources of cites like Seattle, find shelters?

T: They can look to county and state resources. It’s a matter of committing staff time and finding ways to finance housing and shelter programs. Public partnerships are good. The ultimate solution is finding, providing and funding housing options for all. It gets into being a question of values. Are we doing things for justice or for economic value?

A: What is the ultimate goal for shelters and those who want to help with this problem?

T: It’s hard to imagine a scenario where homelessness completely disappears. Solutions go beyond having enough shelters and housing. We must have support services for people to fully develop into what they can be. For certain people the best option is stable housing. Not everyone can meet the traditional working member of society standards. There will be success stories about those who re-enter society. It is a matter of resources and commitment. We want to end homelessness but we must be practical.

 Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 10.04.46 PM

(Infographic designed by Bijoux)

Defining Affordable Housing 

Housing as a human right is supported in the government’s attempt to provide housing to its citizens through vouchers and other programs for those facing poverty and homelessness. These programs all demonstrate the government’s active role in providing housing for low-income earners. Below are some terms for distinguishing types of housing.

Affordable housing is defined as housing cost that does not exceed 30% of the household’s gross income.

Non-profit housing developers specialize in creating and renovating affordable housing; the money made from renters or buyers is then re-invested to produce more affordable housing.

Public housing serves as a form of shelter for households with low income, requiring them to pay for no more than 30% of their income towards housing and utilities.

First and Vine Apartment

(Bellwether Housing Unit Above)

Government assistance materializes by the means of Section 8 Vouchers, as well as Tenant and Project Based Programs. Section 8 Vouchers offer rent assistance in the private market by paying the difference of a households rent after the household pays 30% of their income towards housing.

Tenant based programs include the use of operating subsidies to lower property owner costs as well as low income housing tax credit. Low income housing tax credit offers credit to developers “to build or rehabilitate low-income housing.” This tax credit offers incentive to investors and builders to create housing that caters to the needs of the poor and lower class, particularly those who make below median income.


(Bellwether Housing Unit Above)


Bijoux had the opportunity to interview Scott Green from the Bellwether Housing organization, which works to provide affordable housing for individuals living in and around the Seattle area. This audio clip provides insight regarding the affordable housing process and the urgent need for more affordable housing. More information regarding Bellwether Housing is available using the link I provided.

Bellwether Staff

(Images Courtesy of Bellwether Housing)

 multimedia infographic1

(Info Graphic done by Sarai Soto – Click to expand)

Tiny houses are a great alternative for the homeless. A tiny house can range from one hundred to four hundred square feet. Although small, they provide better environmental sustainability as well as affordable living. Statistics show that most Americans dedicate more than half their income to a roof over their head. With houses ranging from 12,000 to 80,000, it is possible for the homeless to find stability in these homes and live in them permanently. All across Portland, Oregon, Upstate New York, Austin, Texas and Madison, Wisconsin, local advocates for the homeless have constructed communities of tiny homes. Living in a smaller space allows for less debt and expenses. Small, properly insulated homes provide realistic opportunities for the homeless. Tiny houses also provide someone who makes below the median income to pay off debt and obtain a simple yet affordable life.

Below is a concluding piece about our project and below that are two links that provide a list of places in Seattle that offer homeless shelters and services. If interested in learning more about housing solutions, donating or volunteering, please check out those links or the affordable housing options information beneath that and see how you can help people experiencing homelessness find safe circumstances.



Affordable Housing Options in Seattle, WA
Organization Phone Number Specialty
ArtSpace Projects (612) 333-9012 Housing residents pursuing artistic professions.
Bellwether Housing (206) 623-0506 Provides affordable, safe, and permanent affordable housing.
Capitol Hill Housing (206) 329-7303 Provides affordable housing for individuals and families.
Catholic Housing Services (206) 328-5696 Affordable housing for homeless individuals and those with low income.
Central Area Development Association (206) 328-2240 Multi-family housing units for low income earners.
Compass Housing Alliance (206) 357-3100 Lutheran congregations creating affordable housing.
Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association (206) 923-0917 Affordable housing catering to couples and families.
Downtown Emergency Service Center (206) 464-1570 Serves homeless individuals with disabilities and minimal housing options.
Habitat for Humanity (206) 453-2950 Invests in creating housing to make more low income earners home owners.
Interim Community Development Association (206) 623-5132 Creates affordable housing in the international district.
Low Income Housing Institute (206) 443-9935 Develops and rents housing to low income earners.
Mt. Baker Housing Association (206) 725-4152 Owns and operates affordable housing in the Rainer Valley area.
Plymouth Housing Group (206) 374-9409 Provides transitional housing for homeless individuals.
Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority (206) 624-8929 Creates housing in the Chinatown and international district for low income earners.
Seattle Housing Authority (206) 239-1737 Creates and administers low income housing alongside Section 8 housing vouchers.
Southeast Effective Development (206) 723-7333 An organization that provides affordable housing, economic development, and cultural programs.
YWCA (206) 461-4888 Permanent and affordable housing for women and their families.


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