Growth: People and Place

affordability • centers

Updated Nov 02 2015, by Michael Hubner, PSRC

Centers Capturing More of the Region’s Housing; Across Region, Residential Gains Are Uneven.

VISION 2040 calls for the region to focus future housing and employment growth within regionally and locally designated centers (see MPP-DP-5). PSRC has designated 29 Regional Growth Centers as locations for compact, pedestrian-oriented development, with a mix of different office, commercial, civic, entertainment, and residential uses. Attracting more new housing within centers is one important element of success in implementing regional growth strategy.

Providing housing choices in centers means that more people have the opportunity to live close to jobs, services, and urban amenities, both within walking distance of their homes and via transit connections to other centers of activity in the region. Easy and affordable access to such opportunities, which is furthered by locating housing in centers, is especially important to low-income households.

Figure 1 shows the growth in the amount of housing and housing development over time as a share of the region’s overall housing growth. Over time, more of the region’s housing stock has been located within Regional Growth Centers. Figure 1 shows growth in the overall share of housing in centers. In the year 2000, 6.3% of housing was in centers. By 2010, this figure had increased to 7.2%, with further growth to 7.6% of the region’s housing units located in centers in 2014.

Figure 1. Housing Units in Regional Growth Centers
Figure 1. Housing Units in Regional Growth Centers

Figure 1 also shows an upward trend in the share of the region’s housing growth occurring in centers. From 2000 to 2010, 12.5% of all housing added in the region was located in Regional Growth Centers. This capture rate is double the baseline share of 6.3%. From 2010 to 2014, the capture rate for housing in centers increased even further to 19%, which means that currently, nearly one in five new units built in the region is inside a center.

Figure 2 shows the distribution of new and existing units in centers across the region. In the year 2000, the region’s centers contained approximately 83,000 units of housing. Since 2000, the region’s centers have added nearly 37,000 net new housing units, for a total of more than 120,000 units in the year 2014. New housing in centers is highly concentrated in about a third of the 29 Regional Growth Centers, located in five cities: Seattle, Renton, Redmond, Bellevue, and Tacoma.

Figure 1. Housing Units in Regional Growth Centers
Figure 1. Housing Units in Regional Growth Centers

Another third of the centers have seen modest housing growth, but at a far lower level. The bottom third of centers has experienced little or no housing development, capturing less than 10% of the residential growth in their respective cities.

What are the future implications?

The more that the region can achieve a “significant share” of housing growth within regional centers, as called for in MPP-DP-5, the greater will be the benefits to the region as a whole and to the region’s current and future households who may prefer to reside in centers. The Regional Growth Strategy calls for cities with Regional Growth Centers to capture more than half of the region’s population growth by 2040.

The current trend is moving in the right direction. However, even more of the region’s housing will need to locate in centers over time, especially in those centers that have not experienced much housing development, in order to achieve the regional vision of compact development in central places. Success will mean enhanced support for our transit network, a healthier environmental, focused investment and economic development, and better access to opportunities for all types of households.