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As Ballard Complex Residents Face 75 Percent Rent Hike, Licata Calls For Future City Action

Options are running out for tenants of an apartment complex in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood who are facing much higher rents once the new owner renovates their units. Seattle City Council members say more needs to be done to make sure other renters don’t face a similar plight.

The Lockhaven Apartments are a cluster of low-rise brick buildings west of Ballard’s commercial strip. Life has been up in the air for the residents ever since developer Goodman Real Estate purchased the property last summer. The developer plans to renovate the units and raise the rents about 75 percent. Most of the folks there say they can’t afford the higher rate, and plan to move out.

On Thursday Seattle City Council member Nick Licata stood with residents who held signs that read "Affordability, Not Luxury,” and “When Is Enough Enough?”

"The city needs to investigate all the tools available to us to see what we can do to either preserve housing like this or to limit the amount of increases that many tenants who are on limited incomes are facing,” Licata said.

Licata says options include augmenting the city’s housing levy with money from the general fund or requiring developers to set aside a certain number of affordable units. He says there’s not much the city can do to help the Lockhaven residents now, though he did broker a meeting with executives from Goodman Real Estate.

Company president George Petrie says his firm has built other affordable housing complexes, but typical government subsidies don’t stretch far enough in an expensive neighborhood like Ballard. Petrie says his company is working with residents to help them find new places to live. 

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.