HIP Tool: Multifamily Development

Multifamily housing refers to a broad range of residential development types that are characterized by multiple dwelling units contained in a single building or otherwise adjoined by shared walls. Multifamily development may be constructed at different scales (e.g., low-rise, mid-rise, high-rise) depending on the character of the district and can be developed as rental or ownership housing.


Multifamily housing is a key element to providing affordable rental or ownership housing through economical use of land and shared building infrastructure. Low-rise multifamily development may be established in transitional areas near single-family zones, or may represent the established character in commercial centers. Downtowns in smaller cities often exhibit a low-rise multifamily character. Mid-rise multifamily becomes transit-supportive development at key commercial nodes and along corridors. High-rise development is most often implemented in regional metropolitan centers such as downtown Everett, Bellevue, Seattle, Tacoma, and Bremerton.

Multifamily housing is key to achieving appropriate density for transit oriented development. Tools like upzones and rezones, minimum densities, multifamily tax exemption, and parking reductions can be used to encourage multifamily construction or conversion.

Mid-rise and high-rise multifamily development can be a source of affordable and/or diverse housing at a scale appropriate in designated urban centers or transit oriented development areas. Multifamily development of any scale can be appropriate in expensive housing markets where developers can maximize the number of dwellings on high-cost land.

Tool Profile

Focus Areas

  • Expensive Housing Markets
  • Innovative Single Family Techniques
  • Urban Centers

Project Types

  • Multifamily
  • Ownership
  • Rental
  • Market Rate
  • Subsidized

Affordability Level

  • 80% to 120% AMI
  • Less than 80% AMI

Housing Goal

  • Affordability
  • Diversity