Seattle housing director's first visit to Chinatown-ID was like a homecoming

She leads Seattle's Office of Housing and grew up in Oahu's pineapple country.

Seattle housing director's first visit to Chinatown-ID was like a homecoming

Maiko Winkler Chin, former head of the Seattle Chinatown International District Public Development Authority and member of Mayor-elect Bruce Harrell’s transition team, said emphatically no when asked by a member of his transition team if she was interested in leading the Office of Housing.

"The PDA provided a safe environment for me and my family. I have a teenager daughter. WinklerChin recalled the bad treatment McGinn's children received from their peers.

I was like, "I'm not going to do that to my family." "There's no sense."

Leslie Smith, director of Vulcan Inc. noted that Winkler Chin's daughter was now in college. She encouraged Winkler Chin to consider her options.

She wondered, over her birthday meal, what harm it would do to at least have the conversation.

She is currently the head of a $250 million agency that has a portfolio consisting of 17,000 housing units plus 5,500 for the homeless, including 3,900 permanent supportive units.

The office helped finance 15 rental housing structures with 1,651 affordable homes last year, among other things. 27 buildings, with more than 3,500 apartments are under construction and will be open in the next few years.

Maiko Winkler - Chin

Seattle Office of Housing Director

Born in Japan, but grew up on Hawaii. Daughter of a U.S. Army Sergeant and domestic chef who worked at the home of a yakuza.

Hometown: Wahiawa on Oahu. This is the community that Dole began in.

Current residence: Beacon Hill

Family: Tyler Chin is a senior business analyst for Coinstar and his daughter Lauren Chin is a student.

Education: Bachelor of international affairs and Asian studies from the University of Puget Sound, master of public affairs at University of Washington

A Day in the Life

Some days, 6:30 am: Breakfast, some days exercise class.

Carpools for work at 8:30 am

Meetings all day

Some days, he plays tennis at 5:30 p.m.

7 p.m. Arrives at home, cooks dinner, and spends time with her husband and Winston, a labradoodle miniature, as it reads

10:45 pm: Time for bed

Did you ever think that you would one day be the Director of Seattle's Office of Housing when you were growing? I had never considered working in housing, or even realized that it was a government function. I grew in a Dole-created company town. Some of the nicer houses were reserved for Dole's higher-ups. It wasn't where I lived.

Then there was the time when I lied to her and said I wanted to become an occupational therapist. I had to find a way off the island. In Hawaii, you cannot earn a degree as an occupational therapist.

My first memory of the ID is 1986. Jill Nishi invited me to her house one weekend because I was homesick. She grew up in Beacon Hill. The Nippon Kan Theater was hosting a dance. I remember driving from Beacon Hill down 15th Avenue to Little Saigon. For me, it was like returning home. I felt so much better.

How did you get into working on public housing policy? Sue Taoka was the SCIDpda head at the time and spoke to students in graduate school. She was amazing. When I grew up, I wanted to be just like her.

Harrell's administration proposes to put on the ballot in November a $7-year housing replacement tax of $970 million. This is more than three times what the current levy was. What would you tell those who believe the new request is too high? We did not think we could produce less housing than the expiring levy. This is extremely difficult right now because of inflation. We must also be aware of the rising cost of living and the demand for housing.

Explain that. We talk about AMI, or Area Median Income at the Office of Housing. A project will be constructed for households that make 60% of AMI. 75% of all homes are rented to those who earn less than 30% of AMI. The AMI chart may look the same, but people are dropping down because of higher-income individuals.

Last fall, news broke that the city had decided not to purchase the approximately 1,400 aPodment units and instead chose to maintain their affordability. Amazon was reportedly going to finance the deal. Why did the city reject? We are always happy to answer phone calls from potential investors. Right now, we're getting many calls from people who are either selling their building or have permits but can't get started because of inflation and cost of materials. We had some discussions about the aPodment Portfolio, but nothing more. We only get involved when someone comes to us with a plan. This has never happened in this portfolio. No one has ever come forward with that.