Capitol Hill Renters (and Homeowners) Are Like No Other

Seattle Times Renter Owner

Back in August, the Seattle Times created this nice little infographic comparing renters and homeowners in Seattle.  The big takeaways weren’t too surprising.  Overall, renters in Seattle make less money, have smaller households, and live in smaller places.  They are more likely to be young, more likely to be people of color, more likely to have moved recently, and less likely to own a car than Seattle homeowners.

But what about Capitol Hill, where 80% of residents are renters? We broke down the numbers, and the comparisons are fascinating.

 

Owning vs Renting Capitol Hill

          Data for Capitol Hill owners and renters from 2010-2014 ACS

Capitol Hill residents are slightly less wealthy than Seattle overall, and that’s true for both renters and homeowners.  The gap between owners and renters on Capitol Hill is still significant however; the median household income of a renter on Capitol Hill is about $57,000 less than that of someone who owns.

Capitol Hill is also much younger. That’s partly because we have lots of renters and renters trend younger citywide. Our renters are also younger than other Seattle renters; 60% of renters on Capitol Hill are under age 35. The same holds true for our homeowners – nearly twice as many are under 35 compared to Seattle homeowners at large.

When it comes to transit, the differences are stark. 43% of Capitol Hill renters do not own a car, well above the 29% of renters city-wide that forgo a vehicle. Both of those are still light years beyond the 4% of homeowners in Seattle who have given up their car. Living in a dense, transit-rich neighborhood seems to make the difference. 15% of homeowners on Capitol Hill don’t own a car.

We also move less often—a lot less often.  When you don’t breakdown households by tenure (renter/owner) it looks like people on Capitol Hill move a lot.  56% of renters moved into their unit in 2010 or later (but it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re new to the neighborhood). Renters on Capitol Hill are actually far less likely to have moved recently than renters elsewhere. The same is true for homeowners on Capitol Hill.  Only 4% of Capitol Hill homeowners moved into their place in 2010 or later.

Capitol Hill homeowners have much smaller households sizes and smaller homes than their counterparts throughout the city (condos outnumber craftsman bungalows), dramatically closing the big differences between owners and renters we see at the city level. The racial gap is smaller as well.  Capitol Hill has similar racial demographics to Seattle as a whole.  Renters here are more white than renters elsewhere, and homeowners here are less white than homeowners elsewhere.

What does all of this mean for Capitol Hill? It’s an important reminder that the experience of renting on Capitol Hill is a unique one with its own set of challenges and circumstances. And when we talk about the future of Capitol Hill we should be talking about how it affects our renter majority.

This data gives us an idea of that, but numbers only tell a fraction of the story. To hear from renters directly and engage in deeper conversation about what these numbers mean, come out this Saturday for the first-ever Capitol Hill Renter Summit. Join other renters from the neighborhood along with the Mayor and other local officials in a day dedicated to building the voice and power of renters. The program starts at 11:30 at Miller Community Center. We have over 100 renters signed up, but there’s still room for more! Register beforehand at bit.ly/RenterSummit