Safe and affordable housing — and a job opening to help make it happen



I believe that everyone in our city has a right to safe and healthy housing. The facts are that while most of the rental housing stock in Seattle is sound and habitable, we know there is a significant percentage that is not. That which is not habitable tends to disproportionately impact low income people and people of color.

We wanted to change that.

The City has had a “complaint-based” system for years whereby a tenant or other knowledgeable person can complain to our Department of Planning and Development about unsafe or unhealthy conditions that the landlord refuses to fix. DPD will investigate and in some cases require appropriate measures. See this Client Assistance Memo for information about how that works.

This complaint-based system is well and good for those of us who have confidence about approaching our landlord, but some renters who speak English as their second language, or who fear retaliation, say they are intimidated and will not make the call.

We have made an important change that will improve housing conditions for many tenants across our city and provide safe housing for the 53% of residents in our city who rent. We have worked with leaders from across the real estate spectrum: landlords, tenants, institutions with keen interest like the University of Washington to create a rational rental housing registration program.

The legislation passed in October and registration will begin in  2014.  Here’s an FAQ. DPD is now seeking a manager to initiate this program.

I rarely post a job opening, but this one is new and is near and dear to my heart. The City is looking to hire a Rental Registration Program Manager. For information, visit the city jobs site. Scroll down to page 2 until you see the link to the Rental Registration Program Manager for the details.

A unique skill set is sought: the manager will be both the project developer and ultimately the program manager who can work well with people across a broad spectrum, starting from scratch but implementing best practices learned from other cities and stakeholders. This manager will be key to creating a program that focuses on what will make a unit safe and healthy, while not being overly burdensome or expensive for landlords. We want this to be a fair and reasonable process.

DPD is looking for someone with experience building a new program and putting it into operation. Familiarity with project management techniques and practices will be important, especially this first year or two. According to DPD, they are “looking for a strong manager to run the program and lead the team who can recognize policy implications, make decisions, adapt to new priorities or developments, and be the public face of the program. We expect there will lots of work with a very broad range of stakeholders as the program develops.”

If this sounds of interest to you or someone you want to recommend, please see the link above. I view this as a great opportunity to create the program and get it going in the right direction; it’s important for the health of our city.

The position closing date is January 29, 2013.

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