This office building sits on the University-owned property where the housing project will be built.

Courtesy of Google Maps
This office building sits on the University-owned property where the housing project will be built. Courtesy of Google Maps

 The University of Washington is taking steps to make affordable housing available for its employees by as soon as 2021.

On Tuesday, Sept. 5 the university signed a memorandum of understanding with the Seattle Housing Authority to develop more than 150 affordable housing units in the University District.

Those units, according to the memorandum, would be restricted to those make 60 percent of less of area median income. In 2017 dollars, that means a family of four would have to make less than $57,600 to qualify for the housing, the housing authority said. The units would also be prioritized to University of Washington employees, then opened to the public under the same requirements if not filled.

The housing will also include housing and services for homeless young adults. There is also talk of childcare services being made available.

Aaron Hoard, the deputy director of the university’s office of regional and community relations, said the memorandum was the result of fortuitous timing for the institution.

“The university has been concerned with the rising cost of housing for employees,” he said. “We were approached by the housing authority and saw it as a great opportunity to deal with some of that.”

University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce said much the same in a press release.

“At the UW, we’re part of this community, and we see what Seattle’s growth has done to rents and mortgages,” she said. “This partnership creates the opportunity to provide a new, affordable option to UW employees who could otherwise be priced out of living near where they work. It’s an expansion of our commitment to our employees, but it’s also the right thing to do for them and for the city we all call home.”

The property is located at 4201 Roosevelt Way NE. Current structures include the two-story Executive Building – which houses an insurance company – and a small house. The square footage of the University-owned property is 22,407.

Hoard said the current proposal is to create 150 to 200 units of affordable housing, but that the property had just been rezoned to a more permissive level and so that number could rise.

The university and housing authority will put together a request for proposal later this year. Hoard said the public would likely see a full proposal for the project sometime next spring.