The Challenge

The high cost of housing in our state has reached a crisis level, threatening our quality of life, economic vitality, and the future of our community. We see and hear the signs all around us: loved ones who do not have the means to buy a house, teachers and police officers who cannot afford to live in the neighborhood where they work, and people living on the street because they are unable to make their rent.


Washington households are cost-burdened, spending more than 30% of household income on housing-related costs

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Source: American Community Survey | S2503  FINANCIAL CHARACTERISTICS | 2020: ACS 5-Year Estimates Subject Tables; BCG analysis

Affordable Housing: Building a Brighter Future for Washingtonians

Our Focus

As some of the largest employers in the state, our members see the housing affordability crisis as one that undermines our economic vitality, ability to attract and retain a world-class workforce, and ambitions for an equitable society. The challenge is daunting, but we truly believe there is an opportunity to tackle this crisis together and holistically to build a brighter, affordable future for Washingtonians. Through our work, we focus on defining the problem and surfacing best practices to support local and state government in their work to address the crisis we face.

Our Work

“The Invisible Crisis”

In 2019, Challenge Seattle hired Boston Consulting Group to look at housing affordability in King County. The data showed a depressing, yet unsurprising, reality of unaffordability—home prices had risen ~60% in a decade, nearly 3x the national average, and 40% of middle-income households were burdened by housing costs.

BCG conducted a landscape analysis of best practices around the world, and proposed a suite of approaches, which were published in the report The Invisible Crisis.

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“The Conspicuous Crisis”

After the release of the 2019 report, action was taken, with leaders across sectors stepping up to the challenge. This progress is important, but it became clear that it is not enough to address the magnitude of the affordability challenge we face today and will face into the future. Housing affordability is at a crisis level in Washington, and it will take a comprehensive solution and all of us coming together to act at the scale we desperately need.

To help us define and understand the nature of the challenge we face and inform potential action, we published the report The Conspicuous Crisis in partnership with Boston Consulting Group as a follow-on to the 2019 report. Taking a broader geographic view, we hired BCG to outline the scale and scope of the housing affordability crisis state-wide, and, through an analysis done by BCG, highlight a suite of research-and context-based actions that can provide both immediate relief and address this crisis in the long-term. Read the full report here.

House Washington Coalition

In 2021, Challenge Seattle convened a statewide coalition—“House Washington”—to address the chronic homelessness crisis. In 2022, the coalition’s work expanded to include a focus on affordable housing. In all, 100+ businesses, local elected officials, housing advocates, and philanthropies joined together, and more than $850 million was secured from the Legislature and the Governor for emergency and affordable housing and behavioral health services. From new housing units to more crisis stabilization beds, this 2022 year-end report details how these significant investments are being put to work, and actions needed to continue addressing this crisis. The coalition continued its advocacy in the 2023 legislative session, which resulted in a historic investment of $1 billion for affordable housing and homelessness.

Latest Reports

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