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December 2019

ORCA For All

December 5, 2019

Orca For All graphicMotivated by twin beliefs that mobility is a human right, and a shift to low-carbon modes of transportation is urgently needed to avert climate catastrophe - a nonprofit social welfare organization has launched ORCA for All. The campaign is designed to persuade more employers, "especially larger employers than can more easily absorb the costs," to subsidize transit passes for their workers.

The campaign is the latest in a multi-year effort by the Transit Riders Union (TRU) to advocate for an expanded transit pass program.

Backers of ORCA for All say they envision a near future "when every resident and every worker in Seattle and King County has an unlimited transit pass in hand, making it easy to choose public transit."

The current campaign has five main goals:

  1. Transit benefits legislation: To increase employer provision of transit benefits, especially to lower-wage workers, through Seattle legislation mandating that large employers subsidize transit.
  2. Transit benefits for public contract workers: Seattle and King County should commit to figuring out how to provide transit benefits for human services workers, construction workers, and other workers employed through publicly-funded contracts.
  3. Step it up, UW: Fully-subsidized transit passes for all University of Washington employees! As Seattle's second largest employer, the UW needs to set a better example.
  4. No-cost fare program: The King County Council will consider a no-cost fare program for the lowest-income riders. We want this program to be as good and successful as possible!
  5. Fare enforcement reform: King County Metro has made progress decriminalizing fare enforcement. We want Sound Transit (link light rail) to step up and do the same.

In other campaigns, TRU has pushed for ORCA LIFT, a low-income reduced fare program; expanding and improving the Human Services Bus Ticket program; supporting Rainier Beach High School students in their quest for free transit passes; and pressuring the University of Washington to fully subsidize transit for all UW employees.

The Transit Riders Union, formed in 2011, is a registered 501(c)4 nonprofit, and as such, engages in political actions such as endorsing candidates for elected office.

The paceof home price appreciation picked up in September, led by Seattle, according tothe Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index. Analysts credit strong demandand tight inventory as factors, and cite lower mortgage rates and "a solidlabor market" for boosting demand.

 

Threemetro areas - San Francisco, Chicago, and Boston - experienced home price dropsin September (the most recent reporting period) compared to the previous month.

 

The U.S.National Home Price Index rose at a seasonally adjusted annual growth rate of4.7% in September, up slightly from the August figure of 4.3%. A comparison ofyear-over-year changes shows the national index increased 3.2% in Septemberfrom the same month a year ago.

 

TheS&P report covering 20 metro areas shows local home prices varied from adrop of 2.1% to a gain of 9.6%. Ten areas surpassed the national average of4.7%, with Seattle's 9.6% gain topping the list. San Francisco had the steepestdrop at -2.1%.

 

The HomePrice Index tallied by the Federal Housing Finance Agency also showed gains,but at different rates. Its Index showed a seasonally adjusted increase of 7.7%in September, up from 2.5% the previous month. FHFA's year-over-year figures revealeda 5.1% gain in September, improving on the increase of 4.8% in August.

 

Thirdquarter house prices edged up 1.1% from the previous quarter, and jumped 4.9%from third quarter 2018.

 

Otherfindings in FHFA's House Price Index included:

·      Houseprices have risen for 33 consecutive quarters across the U.S.

·      Houseprices rose in all 50 states and the District of Columbia between the thirdquarters of 2018 and 2019.

·      Houseprices rose in all 100 of the largest metro areas in the U.S. over the lastfour quarters.

 

A closerlook at local metro areas shows The Tacoma-Lakewood area ranked 16thamong the 100 metro areas with a 6.7% spike in prices for the third quarter of2019 compared to third quarter 2018. The Seattle-Bellevue-Kent area ranked 92ndwith a 1.9% increase in prices from third quarter 2018 to third quarter 2019.Washington, with a 5.6% increase, ranked 18th in the U.S.

 

Homeownerswho want to calculate their home's price appreciation can use FHFA's calculator.That tool projects what a given house purchased at a point in time would beworth today if it appreciated at the average appreciation rate of all homes inthe area. It does not project the actual value of any particular house.

 

TheFHFA-HPI is a weighted, repeat-sales index that measures average price changesin repeat sales or refinancing on the same properties. The agency said it alsoprovides housing economists with "an improved analytical tool that is useful for estimating changes in therates of mortgage defaults, prepayments and housing affordability in specificgeographic areas."