Sustainability: A Natural Right

SVR Design

High Point Mixed-Income Neighborhood

In Seattle, Washington, developers have brought forth a new community which aims to serve as a model for how all future developments should progress. This newly developed community is known as the High Point Neighborhood. The idea for High Point arose out of a need for the Seattle Housing Authority to redevelop a local projects originally built during World War II. For decades, the surrounding area remained predominantly populated by low-income families, which lead to extreme dilapidation of the area. So in 2003, Seattle embraced this as an opportunity to set the stage for what modern city living could be for Americans on all ends of the economic spectrum. Work began tearing down the existing 716 housing units in order to make way for 1,600 new units. Under the guiding principle of creating a self-sufficient, lasting community, the Housing Authority gathered over $500 million in mixed funding to build Energy Star rated apartments, townhomes, and houses. These homes incorporate sustainable materials like locally sourced, reclaimed lumber, low-VOC paint, tank-less water heaters, and preserved mature trees in their design providing residents with a lower utility bill and carbon footprint. In constructing the streets and sidewalks, permeable concrete and vegetated swales were utilized to allow for natural rainwater drainage.

High Point Housing

Vegetated Drainage System

The Seattle Housing Authority realized that building a self-sufficient community meant designing one where diversity could be encouraged. As a result, the Authority called for High Point to incorporate mixed housing with units available exclusively to low-income families and others priced at market-rate. Doing so insured that High Point could continue as a diverse community with equal opportunity for success regardless of race, disability, or income level.

In the modern world of community development, city planners and developers are searching for innovative ways to solve the issues plaguing the  areas of cities nationwide. In Seattle, Washington, one community housing development is proving that through innovation, even the typically forgotten can reap the benefits of healthy, sustainable living. This development is none other than the High Point Neighborhood, a model for what innovation can bring to blighted communities across the country.


4 thoughts on “Sustainability: A Natural Right

  1. Hello jaygibby67, this is incredibly interesting all of which I haven’t heard of before. I so appreciate how Seattle is incorporating sustainability into their affordable housing projects. Are you familiar with the Chicago Housing Authority’s Plan for Transformation? I have read about the very similar mixed use development projects currently underway however I do not recall any mention of particularly sustainable practices. Because you come off as very informed on the topic, I was wondering if you had any details on how the CHA has fallen short on such things?


  2. It is great to read about developments such as this one. Using reclaimed lumber was a great choice as it is stronger than freely cut construction lumber, but can be more expensive due to the labor needed to take it apart from existing structures. Is there any moe plans to further expand this development into other neighborhoods in the Seattle area? How about other cities?


  3. This is a really great innovation not only for the environment but for the people as well. I know that in Chicago affordable housing is a big issue. Most houses that get demolished are older which leaves them more vulnerable to the harsh weather. I think that this innovation that is taking place in Seattle could hopefully make its way to Chicago, and other cities that suffer from a lack of community.


  4. Pingback: Blog 3 Chicago Sustainable Policies | Principles of Urban Sustainability

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