Mercer Island: Where The Top 1% Meet The Next 2%

City To Consider Subsidized Housing For Doctors, Attorneys

The first article in an occasional, future-Pulitzer-Prize-nominated series about income equality on Mercer Island.

A plan to provide subsidized housing on Mercer Island for doctors and attorneys is being prepared by city employees for review at an upcoming city council meeting.

“Mercer Island used to be a great place for doctors to live,” said Jerry Zhivago, spokesperson of the local chapter of Doctors Within Borders, a housing advocacy organization for physicians living in high-net-worth communities. “But with all of the tech executives and hedge fund managers moving here, the price of housing is quickly becoming out of reach for all but the most successful eye surgeons and interventional radiologists.”

“My father raised a family on Mercer Island on an attorney’s salary, and so did I,” said Bob Loblaw, president of the Mercer Island chapter of the American Bar Association. “My daughter and son-in-law are both finishing law school and would love to move here, but the Mercer Island lifestyle is simply unattainable by your average two-attorney family.”

Advocates for the proposal point out that having a broad base of professions among Island residents is about more than the intangible benefits of socioeconomic diversity. They cite studies showing that residents receive higher quality of service from workers who live in the communities they serve.

Local limited-growth advocates argue that the proposed housing plan will create a drain on city resources and increase stress on already crowded local schools. “We welcome new residents to Mercer Island, as long as they can afford to move into existing housing stock and send their kids to private schools,” said concerned citizen Ronald Grump. “If this measure passes, what other groups of marginal populations will be drawn to the island as part of this massive social experiment?”

If subsidized housing is not provided, advocates say, Mercer Islanders are likely to experience unprecedented lifestyle challenges. Said Loblaw: “If doctors can’t afford to live here, how will you get your discreet Botox injections during halftimes of Seahawks games? If attorneys can’t afford to live here, who are you going to call when you need to sue your next-door neighbor or get your teenager out of a DUI charge?”