Whether you are saving money toward purchasing a home or simply watching your expenses, managing your rent costs makes good financial sense. Budget advisors generally recommend keeping housing costs at 30% of your household’s income or less. This can be challenging in the city of Seattle, especially for families earning moderate to low incomes. While average rents in our area declined during the pandemic, they are still among the highest in the country.
The Multi-Family Tax Exemption program, known as MFTE, is part of the City of Seattle’s efforts to make available more affordable rental options. MFTE gives landlords tax incentives if they commit to charging below-market rents to some units in their building. These rent-restricted units are available only to tenants who earn less than a certain percentage of the area’s median income.
UW employees receive priority access to rent-restricted MFTE units at Bridges @ 11th, an apartment complex located in the University District. Seattle’s Office of Housing website includes full details about the program, including answers to frequently asked questions about MFTE, but the team at Bridges @ 11th shared some MFTE highlights to help you determine if the program may be right for you and walk you through the typical MFTE process.
1. Find out if you quality
To qualify for MFTE, you will need to verify that your household income falls within income eligibility limits which currently range from 40% – 90% of Seattle’s area median income (AMI). If you qualify, your rental rates will be capped based upon your household income and the type of unit you rent. Visit the city’s website to compare your household income with the current MFTE income and rent limits.
2. Find a property
To see if there are MFTE properties where you want to live, see the list of MFTE properties on the city’s website. It includes roughly 180 properties located throughout the city, their locations, contact information and the types of units they offer. You’ll need to contact properties and ask about their current availability.
3. Submit your application and join the wait list
You will need to provide a Resident Eligibility Application (REA) to each MFTE property where you apply, and landlords will verify your income at the time they offer you an MFTE unit. Depending on your property’s MFTE agreement, you may need to re-qualify every year or only if you change MFTE units. At Bridges, for example, the REA and income verification are a one-time process that will qualify you for the program as long as you stay in your assigned MFTE unit.
If your preferred property does not have MFTE units available, ask if they have an MFTE wait pool or contact list. You may not be offered an MFTE apartment immediately, but housing situations change quickly and applicants in the wait pool may be offered apartments more quickly than they expect.
4. Keep an eye out for additional incentives
Now is a good time to look for new rental opportunities because many landlords are offering incentives. Each property offers their own incentives and the up-front savings can return nearly a full month’s rent to your pocket. For example, Bridges @ 11th is currently waiving the application fee and security deposit. You can email Brandon Thomas, general manager of Bridges @ 11th, with your questions.
Community Relations and UW Work-Life work together to identify affordable housing options for UW employees, including properties that offer priority selection to qualified applicants who are UW Staff and UW Students. Visit the priority access rentals and affordable housing website for more information and subscribe to the UW Insider for updates about affordable housing resources.
Managing housing costs is one way to stay financially fit. Learn more ways to build your financial confidence and get closer to reaching your financial goals with Financial Literacy Month events and resources offered by The Whole U and its partners.