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Seattle Is The Hottest Housing Market of 2017 In U.S.

The hottest housing market of 2017

Yahoo Finance
by Amanda Fung

Not only is Washington’s largest city home to internet juggernaut Amazon, it also holds the title for the city with the fastest-growing home prices. Since September 2016, Seattle has been leading the S&P CoreLogic Case Shiller Home Price 20-City Composite Index and has maintained that spot each month. There’s no doubt that Amazon has been fueling the city’s real estate market but population and job growth coupled with high demand and low inventory are also lifting prices.

“Seattle is consistently outpacing the rest of the country,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors. “High-tech workers are concentrated or were concentrated in the San Francisco, Silicon Valley area where prices got way too high. Seattle provides an alternative for people.”

Median sales price in Seattle was $478,500 in the third quarter of this year, up 13.4% from the same time last year, according to the NAR. That’s not exactly cheap since the median sales price in the U.S. was $254,000, but it’s still half of the price of a home in San Francisco, where the median sales price was $900,000.

Seattle has been at a 5.9% annual price increase or greater since November 2011, “that’s when mostly everything had bottomed out,” and at a 10.5% increase or more for a year and past three quarters, said David Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices.

 “Home prices are driven by population and employment,” said Blitzer.

For the first time since 2013, Seattle had the fastest one-year population growth rate, 3.1%, among the 50 most populous cities in the U.S. in 2016, according to an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data by The Seattle Times. Since the start of the decade, Seattle added an average 15,658 people a year, and in 2016 it topped 700,000.

Meanwhile the unemployment rate has been below the national rate, hovering around 3% for a few years now. Job growth has been strong mainly due to tech companies like Amazon. It helps that  Starbucks is also headquartered in Seattle and Microsoft’s home is in nearby Redmond, Wash. Microsoft recently revealed multibillion-dollar plans to redevelop its 500-acre campus. Last year, Amazon had the most job postings in Seattle with 19,766 openings to fill, according to job market data provider Burning Glass Technologies. The University of Washington and Starbucks were far behind with 5,156 and 1,992 job postings, respectively.

“We see evidence that these large companies with a lot of employees contribute to a strong housing market,” said Sarah Mikhitarian, an economist at Zillow, an online real estate database company headquartered in Seattle. “The strong labor market drives people to want to live there. At the same time, strong jobs put more pressure on price of homes.”

According to Amazon’s website, 15% of its employees live in Seattle and 20% of its workers walk to work. Microsoft didn’t break out how many workers it has in Seattle, but its website said the company has 47,121 in the Puget Sound Washington.

Amazon’s fortune “flows down to employees who have extra financial resources to purchase property,” said Yun.

Tech workers are flocking to Seattle

Seattlehas become a top destination for professionals in the tech industry, not just folks who want to work for Amazon. Seattle tech firms added 23,575 jobs in 2015 and 2016, accounting for 93% of all office jobs in the city created during that time period, according to a report by real estate firm CBRE. The total number of tech jobs created topped any other major office market in the U.S.

It helps that tech workers who live in Seattle appear to have more disposable income than those situated in other metropolises. A report by LinkedIn and Zillow found that Seattle tech workers who own their homes can expect to have about $2,000 more in disposable income each month than tech workers in the Bay Area. Seattle tech workers keep an average of 59% of their income after paying taxes and housing, while San Francisco Bay Area tech workers pocket only 37%. Those figures made Seattle the No. 1 “sweet spot” for tech workers looking for a job and housing.

High demand, low inventory

But it’s not easy to find a home to buy in Seattle. There’s a scarcity of homes for sale in Seattle. Eighty percent to 90% of new home listings sell within the first 30 days of the posting, normally only 30% of listings sell, said Lennox Scott,  chairman and CEO of brokerage John L. Scott Real Estate.

“Buyers are waiting for each new listing to come on the market,” said Scott. “We are down to about 15 days of inventory in the mid-price range [$500,000-$600,000] of homes.”

Similarly, even first-time homebuyers will have a hard time finding a place to buy. There are 35% fewer homes online than a year ago in the entry-level range, homes with a median sale price of $293,000, according to Zillow. And Seattle isn’t exactly the go-to city to find a deal on your first home. An entry-level home in the U.S. is almost half the price of Seattle home at $118,200.

“That shows you how hot the Seattle market is,” said Mikhitarian.

Further exacerbating the supply of for-sale homes in the market is the lack of new condo developments. A majority of new construction in Seattle is for apartments for rent. That’s where investor money has been focused on, said Scott, who added that there isn’t much activity in condo projects.

As a result homeowners are hesitant to put their place on the market in fear of not being able to find a new home to buy before someone snaps up their current home, said Scott. “There’s seller gridlock,” he said. Most think home prices will remain elevated since the city is still considered affordable compared with the nation’s other tech hubs and inventory will remain low. However, a slow down of tech hiring may change things. According to the Seattle Times, the city’s largest employer Amazon may be pulling back a little in their hometown. During the week of Dec. 3, Amazon had 3,503 job postings–the lowest in three years and down from more than 9,000 just six months earlier.

Sign of a slight cooling down

Most think home prices will remain elevated since the city is still considered affordable compared with the nation’s other tech hubs and inventory will remain low. However, a slow down of tech hiring may change things. According to the Seattle Times, the city’s largest employer Amazon may be pulling back a little in their hometown. During the week of Dec. 3, Amazon had 3,503 job postings–the lowest in three years and down from more than 9,000 just six months earlier.

But, so far, all signs indicate that the city’s housing market will remain sustainable. There might be a slight slowdown, given that employment growth is projected to slow through 2020. NAR’s Yun said we may see single-digit rate of appreciation instead of double digits in 2018.

 “The Seattle market is a magnet because of its natural beauty,” said Scott, touting the city’s mild temperatures and lush environment. “That’s why individuals like to move here when they do have a job opportunity. It is an attractive city.”

It’s called the Emerald City for a reason.

New Apartments Designed To Help Shrinking Middle Class

Bucking the luxury housing trend, $500M in new apartments designed to help Seattle’s shrinking middle class

Mike Rosenberg
Seattle Times business reporter
Two Seattle firms are putting $500 million into building “workforce apartments” rather than the luxury units now sprouting all over. Spectrum Development and Laird Norton Properties will focus on areas like First Hill and Pioneer Square where rents are becoming out of reach.

Seattle’s record apartment construction boom almost exclusively has produced luxury buildings — the kind with $2,000 rents accompanied by concierge services, high-end appliances and yoga rooms. That’s left a huge void for middle-class renters looking for regular housing.

Now two Seattle companies are making plans to put $500 million into building new apartments aimed at firefighters, teachers and other midlevel workers.

And they’ll focus the development in urban areas where people want to live but rents are becoming out of reach: in neighborhoods near transit, schools and shops, in places like First Hill and Pioneer Square.

The initial projects are just being planned now, and the first units are scheduled to open in 2019, with others likely to debut over the following five years at various locations.

As part of the deal, Laird Norton will leverage up to $150 million of its own money to borrow additional funds. The partners also plan to save on big land costs by giving property owners a partial stake in their projects. Spectrum has completed more than a dozen urban projects like the rebuilt Publix Hotel and apartments over its nine years in Seattle. Laird Norton, which traces its roots back to partners in the original Weyerhaeuser timber operation, is venturing into development for the first time but owns hundreds of completed buildings across the country.

Spectrum and Laird Norton insist their plans make good business sense, but say their main motivation is to help ensure the middle class won’t be pushed out of Seattle any further.

Already, just this decade, the number of people living in the city who make above $75,000 has grown 11 times faster than those making less than that — partially because those with lower pay are moving out to somewhere cheaper.

“Where are our teachers and health-care professionals going to live in this city?” said Jake McKinstry, a principal at Spectrum. “We want the people who contribute so much to be able to live here.”

The need is huge: About 92 percent of the 31,000 new market-rate apartments that have opened in Seattle this decade have been luxury units, with an average rent  just under $2,000 a month, according to the rental firm RealPage.

Only 2,400 workforce housing units have been built this decade in Seattle. Those apartments have rents that average about $1,300 a month, RealPage found.

Spectrum and Laird Norton estimate their rents will be somewhere in between.

Two workforce apartment buildings built by Spectrum last year in First Hill included one-bedrooms ranging from $1,200 to $1,800, depending on the size. The typical new luxury-building unit in that neighborhood averages $2,000 a month, though across all types of apartments, the average is $1,650.

At the first building planned by the partnership — the 80-unit Canton Lofts at Third Avenue South and South Washington Street, at Pioneer Square — a new loft (basically a two-story studio) will be aimed at people making the median income. Rent starting in summer 2019 will be $1,600 — also cheaper than the average new building there, but pricier than most old buildings.

At those rents, someone earning the city’s median income would spend about 30 percent of their pay on rent, which is the standard recommended limit nationally to be considered affordable. Many renters wind up paying a higher percentage of their income on rent, eating into other costs like health care.

And they hope to arrange deals with property owners to save on upfront costs, since buying properties for development can cost tens of millions of dollars.

At the Canton Lofts, landowners and philanthropists John and Shari Behnke contributed the property in exchange for being long-term co-owners in the project. The developers also sweetened the deal for the landowners, who have donated to the arts in the past, by deciding to lease a small retail space in the project to the local nonprofit Path with Art.

Jeff Vincent, CEO of Laird Norton Properties, said the business case for investing in this type of housing hinges on long-term returns, which they expect to be 6 to 8 percent.

While many developers sell their buildings quickly after opening, Vincent said the partners see workforce housing as a slow, steady profit maker.

That’s still a contrarian view. The banks and investors that generally finance apartment construction remain focused on the luxury buildings that have proved to be good moneymakers in recent years.

McKinstry said that before connecting with Laird Norton, his firm had trouble finding a willing partner with the money to allow Spectrum to embark on its workforce housing plan.

Some neighborhoods, like South Lake Union, already have land costs so high that Spectrum and Laird Norton say they’ll be off-limits for their purposes.

Peter Orser, a former homebuilder who is now chair of the University of Washington’s Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies, said building new housing for middle-class people is very difficult in a place like Seattle, where land and construction costs are so high. But if developers are able to meet the conditions laid out by Spectrum and Laird Norton — like small buildings with no underground parking or luxury perks, and landowners and borrowers willing to take smaller initial profits — then it could work.

“If you can do all those things, I think you got a shot at being able to keep your rents lower,” Orser said. “I think they might be on to something.”

“If it was easy (to build workforce housing), people would be doing it,” Orser said. “Because, frankly, the risk is lower — there are many more renters making 100 percent of the median income than 200 percent. At some point you’re going to run out of people making $123,000.”

Greg Willet, RealPage’s chief economist, concurs: “I certainly would expect a bulk of development to remain focused on that luxury product.”

How other developers react to the deal is important because the 1,000 units planned in the joint venture, while significant, won’t alter the apartment boom on its own.

The city is on track to get as many as 60,000 new apartments this decade, more than in the previous 50 years combined. But about one-third of those units haven’t been built yet, meaning developers still have time to decide how fancy they want their buildings to be.

“We would like others to join us and expand beyond the $500 million,” Vincent said. “Why can’t the industry and private landowners turn this into a billion-dollar initiative to develop workforce housing?”

“We think there’s a big part of our population that can’t afford luxury,” Ferris said. “It’s something our community really needs. Otherwise, they’re getting pushed out.”

Grant added: “We’re really committed to this area, civically. We all have deep roots here.”

Vincent said he signed on in part because of what he saw in a past professional life in Chicago, where some neighborhoods grew expensive and homogeneous. He said he didn’t want to see gentrification take hold here any more than it already has.

The joint venture may also look at building student housing as part of its plans, another big need locally that universities have struggled to keep up with.

Vincent noted the student housing is particularly important because so many of the new, high-paying jobs here require four-year degrees, but not everyone can afford the expenses of getting one. As a result, he said, the region imports a lot of its tech talent, from places like California and overseas.

King County Bar Association Alternative Dispute Resolution Section CLE

I attended a Continuing Legal Education workshop for the King County Bar Association Alternative Dispute Resolution Section this evening regarding using mindfulness and willfulness to cultivate civility in relation to “other”-that which is different from our own experience or frame of reference.  The workshop focused on developing and using this skill in the mediation context.

Swearing In Ceremony

I attended the swearing in ceremony for King County Superior Court Judges Jason Poydras and Matthew York today.  This was a great opportunity to see the lighter side of the judiciary branch.

Death With Dignity

Will Congress let Mary Klein decide how to die?

Yahoo News

Lisa Belkin

Mary Klein hopes the government will hurry up and let her die.

It’s not that she wants her life to end. To the contrary, she says, she is doing absolutely everything she can to live. That includes surgery to cut the cancer out of her ovaries, uterus, colon, diaphragm and stomach lining, followed by five separate months-long rounds of chemotherapy. But, she says, these life-extending options will stop working one day, and when they do she wants to be able to use a life-ending one, to die on her own terms and by her own hand.

Klein, 69, is a resident of Washington, D.C., the latest locus of the growing debate over laws allowing terminally ill patients to decide when to die. Last year, the district became the seventh jurisdiction in the United States to legalize what here was called Death With Dignity — joining Washington state, Montana, Vermont, California, Colorado and Oregon.

But D.C. is not a state, and here Congress can override laws passed by the local city government. In the months since the D.C. act was passed, national legislators have been aiming to do exactly that, trying first to vote to nullify it, and, when that failed, attempting to defund it. That puts patients like Klein in the position of fighting not only against their disease and for their cause but also, unexpectedly, for the rights of their hometown to govern itself.

The result is a race literally to the death. City officials including the mayor and the director of public health have said they are determined to implement the law before Congress can cut off the funding to do so.

“They are scrambling to get this done,” Klein says. “I just hope they do that in time.”

When the first of these laws went into effect in Oregon in 1997, the commonly used term for a doctor’s legally writing a prescription for a fatal dose of medication was “physician-assisted suicide.” In the two decades since, proponents have taken to using the term “medical aid in dying” to emphasize their arguments that it is the patient who acts, not the doctor, and that the act is not actually suicide.c

“This has nothing to do with suicide,” says Kim Callinan, chief program officer for Compassion and Choices which was originally called the Hemlock Society when it was founded in 1980 and is now the largest group in the U.S. to advocate for end of life choices. “Suicide is a person ending their life when they otherwise would not have died. This is a person who is dying from a disease; the disease is taking their life, and this is a compassionate way toward that inevitable end.”

The Oregon law, which is the model for the five that came after, has stringent requirements for deciding who qualifies for such assistance. Patients must be older than 18, diagnosed with a terminal condition and have six months or less to live. They must make three separate requests (one written, two oral), prove they are a resident, and have three doctors agree that they are terminal and not making the requests because they are depressed. And they must be able to take the medication on their own, without assistance.

In the decade after Oregon made all of that legal, it was the only state in the nation to do so. Then, in 2008 Washington state voters approved medical aid in dying on a ballot initiative, in 2009 a Montana court declared there was nothing in state law that would make it illegal, and in 2013 the Vermont legislature passed what it called a Death With Dignity Act.

But it wasn’t until 2014 that the issue jumped back into the national spotlight, where it really hadn’t been since Dr. Jack Kevorkian infamously took it upon himself to build a euthanasia machine back in the early 1990s. The face of the latest version of the debate was not an eccentric graying doctor but a vibrant young woman, 29-year-old Brittany Maynard, who moved from her home state of California to Oregon when she was diagnosed with incurable brain cancer, so she could legally end her own life.

Working with Compassion and Choices, she chronicled her decision in a series if Internet videos and she got the public’s attention. When she died in November of 2014, a YouGov poll found that 39 percent of Americans knew her story. She also appears to have changed some minds: A Gallup poll from May of last year found that nearly 70 percent of Americans agree that terminally ill patients should be allowed prescriptions that would end their lives, a 10 percent increase over 2015.

Maynard’s husband, Dan Diaz, had promised her he would keep lobbying for an Oregon-like law in California, and one was passed there soon after her death. Similar legislation has been introduced in 26 other states over the past two years, nearly all of which are still pending. Colorado was the first of those to pass a law. Next up was Washington, D.C.

Mary Cheh, a D.C. councilwoman who is also a constitutional law professor, sponsored the D.C. bill with Maynard on her mind. She had thought of introducing assisted-death legislation as far back as 2011, she said in an interview, but decided the timing wasn’t right — the council was tackling other major social issues, like same-sex marriage and legalization of marijuana, “and there’s only so much change you can push through at any one time.”

But as an increasing list of states began to consider the subject, and she continued to hear from constituents who “wanted to die with dignity, with control,” Cheh drafted legislation, which she introduced in January of 2016.

She expected it would be controversial, and it was.

The Archdiocese of Washington issued a statement saying that “assisted suicide” violated the “sanctity of life.” The president of the Patient Rights Action Fund worried that insurance companies would see assisted death as a more economical option than paying for treatment, and encourage patients, directly or indirectly, to make use of the option. At least one group of physicians protested that “assisted suicide … goes against everything we are as doctors,” and advocates for the mentally ill expressed fears that the bill would lead to “doctor shopping” for a physician willing to declare a depressed patient to be terminal.

There were equally passionate voices in favor of the legislation. At a July hearing, 70 D.C. residents signed up to speak, and the event lasted nine hours. Among those heard that night were an elderly couple who vowed they would help each other die one day, two reverends who supported the bill, a breast cancer patient who was stable at the moment but wanted to have the option to act should that fight become futile, and a well-known D.C. restaurant owner with a rare and painful connective tissue disorder, who said he had considered moving to either Oregon or Washington state in order one day to do as Maynard did.

“I am fully prepared for the inevitable death that comes to us all,” said restaurateur Bill Warrell. “If I know mine is coming, and I believe it will be painful and prolonged, I want to be able to ask my doctor for an aid-in-dying prescription. What I really want to know is that I will be able to do that right here in D.C., in this beautiful and ugly city that I love.”

Mary Klein was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in October of 2014, before the D.C. hearings began, before Cheh had even introduced the bill, and about a week before Maynard was on the cover of People magazine..

Until that diagnosis, her world was “basically perfect,” she said during an interview in her comfortable northwest D.C. home, on a leafy street abutting Rock Creek Park, a house filled with dog gates, mud mats and family photos. By way of illustration, she passed her hand around the living room where she sat, pointing first toward Stella Dawson, 63, her partner of 37 years, and then to her two German shepherds, 6-year-old Adina and 7-month-old Eiger, both of whom Klein trains for agility and obedience competitions.

“My life has been one adventure after another,” she said. “I’ve loved my life.”

“Fun,” Dawson said, holding her hand as they spoke.

“Fun, great fun,” Klein said.

“It’s not past tense,” Dawson said.

“No, not yet,” Klein said. “When I’m not terribly sick, and even actually when I am, we laugh a lot together. I am very grateful for that. I have not been afraid to take risks, because what propels me forward is believing in what I do.”

Much of their life together has been about standing up for their beliefs, Klein and Dawson say, beginning with the way they met — sharing a house with other staff members at the feminist news collective where they worked in the early 1980s. After that they lived around the country and the world — Chicago, Providence, New York, outside of Frankfurt and London — while Dawson worked as a reporter for Reuters and Klein as an artist, photographer and journalist. In 2004 they happened to be visiting relatives in Massachusetts on the day same-sex marriage became legal, so they got themselves a license and became the 13th same-sex couple to be wed in that state.

“Now we’re on the frontier again,” Dawson says of the fight for the D.C. law.

“There’s better frontiers to be at,” Klein says.


They are here after two rough years of treatment, during which it became clear that remission was not a possibility. Klein often lacked the energy to work on her art. She was regularly hospitalized with complications from the chemotherapy. She suffered nerve damage that made her less stable on her feet, and she had to change the competitions for which she trained the shepherds to ones that were less strenuous for both dog and owner. And there was almost always pain. “If I made it through a weekend without having to go to the emergency room, that was a really successful weekend,” she says.

As her options became fewer, she says, her determination increased. She had read of Maynard, and the state laws that followed, and when she heard that similar legislation was under consideration by the D.C. City Council, she told Dawson that she planned to use her limited energy to support the cause.

“I was not surprised at all,” Dawson says of her wife’s wish to die on her own terms. “Mary was always a very strong, very courageous, very independent person. I knew that she would want things on her own terms.”

Klein did not attend the nine-hour meeting on the bill last July, because she was undergoing her third round of chemotherapy “and my focus was on just getting through it.” By October of last year, though, she was on vacation off the coast of Virginia with Dawson when she read there was to be a first committee vote on the legislation. Cutting their trip short, they returned to D.C. and walked door to door from one council office to the next, telling Klein’s story.

“The word got out that there was a terminally ill woman…” Klein says.

“… just prowling the halls,” Dawson finishes her sentence.

“Every member, or their staff, took a meeting with us,” Klein finishes.

Her message in each office was the same: “I’m doing everything I can to extend my life, but when I have a short period of time left and am in intolerable pain, which is very likely, then I want the option to take medication and have a dignified and comfortable death. I don’t want to die totally drugged up, hallucinating, or in a coma unable to say goodbye. Everyone should have the right to decide how they want to die. Whatever their choice is, I respect that, and I only ask that they respect mine.”

With each hearing, each meeting, each conversation, Cheh tinkered with the text of her proposed bill, D.C. Act 21-577.

When the director of the D.C. Department of Health, Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, questioned whether people would be allowed “to carry out their deaths in public areas … to view the sunset over the Lincoln Memorial while taking their last breath,” Cheh added wording that would prohibit patients from taking their final dose of medicine in public.

When Councilwoman Anita Bonds asked for a provision recommending that patients of faith might consult a religious adviser before choosing the aid-in-dying path, Cheh added that, too. “Might help, can’t hurt,” Cheh says.

All those changes helped the bill get through the council’s health committee, although Klein’s door-to-door lobbying seems to have provided the final push. David Grosso, an at-large independent member of the council, had been undecided until the Oct. 5 committee vote. He became the deciding vote in the 3-2 tally after some intense conversations with Klein.

“As a matter of principle, I believe that adults should be able to make choices about their own lives and bodies,” he said on the night of the committee vote. “It is hard for me to imagine telling a person in the final months of her life that she must continue to fight if she prefers to end things on her own terms.”

The vote of the full council a month later was similarly emotional. At one point during that Nov. 1 meeting, Councilman Kenyan McDuffie, who called this “my toughest vote in four and a half years in this body,” began to talk about his own father’s death.. “My family had to watch him suffer. I wouldn’t wish that on anybody else,” he said, so overcome with tears that he had to leave the room.

The measure passed by a vote of 11-2. It was signed into law by D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser on Dec. 3, 2016.

The federal Home Rule Act of 1973 allows Congress to oversee what the D.C. government does. When Congress disapproves, the act provides two routes by which to undo the city council’s actions — voting to override the bill or to cut off its funding.

Nearly all every time Congress has exercised this power it has been on controversial social issues — abortion, needle exchange programs, rights of same-sex couples, decriminalization of marijuana.

The Home Rule Act says Congress must vote to override within 30 days after the law in question is signed, and many in Congress tried to do that with Death With Dignity. In the Senate that effort was led by Sen. James Lankford, but his disapproval resolution didn’t made it out of committee. The House Oversight Committee, chaired by Jason Chaffetz, did vote, 22-14, to overturn the law. “Rather than facilitate suicides, the government’s role should be to prevent them,” Chaffetz wrote in a joint opinion piece with former Sen. Jim DeMint. “We should not now or ever take steps to help facilitate, encourage or tacitly accept measures that prematurely end lives.”

But that House bill never made it to a floor vote, and when the 30-day window closed on Feb. 18 of this year, the D.C. legislation became law.

That was not, however, the end of the fight between Congress and the council. In response to requests from several congressmen, the Trump administration’s proposed budget specifically prohibits the district from spending any funds to implement the new law. The cost of implementation is minimal, local officials say — basically it includes new software for the Department of Health computer system to track requests from patients and count prescriptions from doctors. And since estimates are that only 10 patients each year will request such prescriptions, it is not expected to be an overwhelming bureaucratic burden.

However small the numbers might be, though, the result is a direct confrontation between the two government bodies located in D.C.

“The hypocrisy is extraordinary,” says Cheh. “These politicians who preach local control, states as workshops of experimentation, want to tell our local government what to do.”

Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C.’s nonvoting representative in Congress, agrees, while also hoping that on this issue momentum is on the district’s side.

“Why didn’t it get a floor vote?” she asked in an interview. “Because this is a rolling stone as more and more Americans are understanding this issue. There are now 24 House Republicans, two of them in the leadership, who are from states where Death With Dignity is the law. To vote against it in D.C. means voting against what their constituents believe in at home. I am optimistic, which is a very difficult and rare word for me to say. We have to fight like the world is coming to an end for each and every thing we’ve saved, but I think we might be able to save this.”

Call it cautious optimism. In case the funding restrictions do pass, Mayor Bowser and Health Director Nesbitt have assured the council that they are scrambling to beat the clock and to fund the necessary implementation before the next budget takes effect on Sept. 30.

For Klein, though, that date feels very far away.

It might surprise some, but she is not at all sure she will actually exercise the right she is fighting so hard to have. “I can’t tell you with 100 percent certainty that if I had the medication I would take it,” she says. “But I do know that it would bring great comfort to me to know this is a possibility.”

Statistically, many others feel the same way. In the 20 years medical aid in dying has been legal in Oregon, 1,327 patients have been granted prescriptions but only 859 have actually used them. Some quickly became too ill to act on their own, but for many, just knowing the choice was theirs was the reassurance they needed.

Before she makes that choice, Klein is making others — all of which add up to a resolution to live life as completely as she can for as long as she can.  She and Stella are planning to head back to the beach where their vacation was interrupted last summer. There she will work on training their new puppy, a rambunctious energetic dynamo who seems blessedly unaware that his human is not as steady on her feet as she once was, not as able to roughhouse back.

Why get a new dog when you might soon be too fragile to even walk him?

“So I can live my life exactly as I want, until I decide to stop,” Klein says.


Housing Recovery

The Housing Recovery Is Leaving Out Most of America


Patrick Clark


For further evidence of the uneven recovery among U.S. housing markets, how’s this: In the 10 most expensive U.S. metropolitan areas, median home values have increased by 63 percent since 2000, after adjusting for inflation. In the 10 cheapest metros, median values rose by just 3.6 percent.

That finding, and the others illustrated by the charts below, comes from the State of the Nation’s Housing, an annual report published Friday by Harvard University’s Joint Center For Housing Studies. While home prices have increased sharply in expensive coastal cities, plenty of urban centers are lagging behind. Home prices in 3 out of 5 metropolitan areas remain below their pre-recession peak, and home prices in low-income neighborhoods are faring even worse.

Meanwhile, the number of Americans spending 50 percent of their income on rent is near historic highs, something likely to get even worse if proposed budget cuts to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development eliminate rental assistance for hundreds of thousands. Demand for rental units continues to rise, pushing rents higher.

The good news—such as it is—is that slow price appreciation in much of the country outside the hot metros means for-sale units there remain relatively affordable for more families.

Home prices increased in 97 out of the 100 largest metropolitan areas, according to the report. Nationally, nominal prices returned to the peaks they held before the Great Recession. But when you adjust for inflation, those prices are as much as 16 percent below past peaks. And appreciation hasn’t been evenly distributed: A May report from Trulia showed that nationally, just 1 in 3 homes has recovered peak value. The Harvard report, however, shows the price gains have been concentrated in high-income neighborhoods.

The flip side of low appreciation should be greater affordability for home buyers. Indeed, 59 percent of households in U.S. metros can afford to purchase the median home, the Harvard report stated, and in 1 in 5 metros, 75 percent can afford to buy. (In this case, the report defines affordability based on a 5 percent down-payment and monthly mortgage payments of no more than 36 percent of household income.)

But many local markets suffer from low inventory, the report notes, partly because of the sluggish pace of new construction: The U.S. added fewer housing units over the decade ending in 2016 than in any 10-year period since 1990.

And while a significant number of Americans spend half of their income on rent, that figure did tick down a bit in 2015, to 11.1 million. That’s still 49 percent more severely rent-burdened households compared with 2001. The vast majority of those households earn less than $30,000 a year.

Regardless of income, or whether they own or rent their homes, families that spend half their income on housing are forced to make sacrifices elsewhere in their budgets. When the poorest families pay less for housing, the extra money goes to necessities like health care. Among households that fall in the bottom 25 percent for total consumer spending, those that spent less than 30 percent of their income on housing spent three times as much on health care.

Those hoping for relief in the form of new rental stock may be waiting for a while. After growing by leaps following the foreclosure crisis, the nation’s stock of single-family rentals actually fell in 2015, the last year for which the report offers data. Low-rent units, meanwhile, are being replaced by more expensive offerings, the report said. That is where the money is.

Celebration for Dean Kellye Testy

I recently attended an event celebrating the achievements of Dean Kellye Testy, the outgoing Dean of the University of Washington School of Law.  Everyone in the U.W. School of Law community wishes her well.  She has been a terrific Dean.

Retirement Dinner

I recently attended a retirement dinner for Carole Grayson, my old boss at University of Washington Student Legal Services, who has also served as the head of the Senior Lawyers Section of the WSBA.  I thank Carole for her patience with me as a legal intern, and for the many powerful lessons she imparted to me regarding the practice of law.

Increase In Renters In U.S. Cities

Renters Now Rule Half of U.S. Cities

Patrick Clark Thu, Mar 23 2:00 AM PDT

Detroit was once known as a city where a working-class family could afford to own a home. Now it’s a city of renters.

Just 49 percent of Motor City households were homeowners in 2015, down from 55 percent in 2009 and the lowest percentage in more than 50 years. Detroit isn’t alone, of course: The rate of U.S. home ownership fell steadily for a decade as the foreclosure crisis turned millions of owners into renters and tight housing markets made it hard for renters to buy homes. Demographic shifts—millennials (finally) moving out of their parents basements, for instance, or a rising Hispanic population—further fed the renter pool.

Fifty-two of the 100 largest U.S. cities were majority-renter in 2015, according to U.S. Census Bureau data compiled for Bloomberg by real estate brokerage Redfin. Twenty-one of those cities have shifted to renter-domination since 2009. These include such hot housing markets as Denver and San Diego and lukewarm locales, such as Detroit and Baltimore, better known for vacant homes than residential development.

While U.S. home ownership ticked up in the second half of 2016, there are reasons to think the trend toward renting will continue. A 2015 report from the Urban Institute predicted that rentership would keep rising through 2030, thanks to demographic trends that include aging baby boomers who downsize into rentals.

In the shorter term, housing market dynamics will also play a role. Fewer than 1 million homes were on the market in the first quarter of 2017, the lowest number since Trulia began recording inventory data in 2012. The shortage makes it harder for renters to buy. Meanwhile, rental landlords, including large Wall Street players and mom-and-pop investors, continue to plow cash into single-family homes.

Those shifts are likely to present new challenges for cities unequipped to handle high rental populations. Detroit Future City, a nonprofit that highlighted Detroit’s shift in a report earlier this month, argues that the city needs an intentional strategy for dealing with the rising population of such households.

That could include providing new protections for renters or creating resources to help landlords keep properties in good repair. On a grander scale, the Center for Budget Policy & Priorities, a Washington-based research institute, published a proposal this month calling for a new tax credit for low-wage workers, seniors, and people for disabilities.

Most low-income families don’t rent by choice, said Nela Richardson, chief economist at Redfin. And plenty of higher-income households rent because they can’t afford to buy. “We don’t have enough affordable supply in either rental or for-sale markets,” said Richardson, adding that cities interested in promoting renter-friendly policies can rethink their zoning policies to encourage more construction.

At an even more basic level, city leaders should check old assumptions about the role renter households play in their communities, said Andrew Jakabovics, vice president for policy development at Enterprise Community Partners, an affordable housing nonprofit.

Homeowners have traditionally been regarded as more engaged, with more at stake in the long-term prospects of their neighborhood, Jakabovics said. That view can unfairly shortchange renters.

“It goes a long way just to make sure you’re valuing renters and making sure voices are heard when it’s time to allocate resources to schools or parks or transit lines,” he said.