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Seattle voters to decide on $970M levy to build 3,000 affordable housing units

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(The Center Square) – Now that ballots have all been sent out, it’s up to Seattle voters to decide on a seven-year property tax increase to address the city’s affordable housing crisis.

The ballot measure would replace an expiring levy with a seven-year property tax increase. If approved by voters, the tax rate would start at 45 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, or $383 a year for the median Seattle homeowner. That is approximately $261 more per year than the expiring levy’s median cost of $122 per year.

Approximately 51% of levy funding is anticipated to serve households earning 30% or less of the Seattle area’s median income.

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell proposed the levy in March. He has said that there have been more than 16,000 people living in homes funded through the previous housing levy that was approved by voters in 2016. The proposed levy renewal anticipates generated revenue to go to more than 9,000 low-income people.

The new levy would collect $970 million through 2030, or $138.6 million annually. Out of the total generated revenue, the most spending would be approximately $707 million toward creating and preserving affordable rental housing for seniors, homeless people and other low-income households.

To ensure sustainable operations in permanent supportive housing, $122 million would be utilized through 2030, if passed by voters.

The remaining $141 million would be distributed as follows: $51 million for home ownership initiatives; $30 million to provide short-term rent assistance and housing stability services for low-income households; and $60 million to ensure continuous administration of all Housing Levy-funded programs by covering costs.

Patience Malaba, Matt Griffin, Susan Boyd – all from Yes For Homes – wrote in a statement in favor of the ballot measure that on top of providing more than 3,000 affordable housing units, the levy would help an estimated 1,150 formerly homeless people remain in stable homes.

However, Roger Valdez from Seattle For Growth, said in a statement in opposition of the ballot measure that the city has too much money dedicated to affordable housing that hasn’t fixed the issue. Valdez mentions the city’s JumpStart payroll tax, which is expected to rake in a baseline of $309.8 million in 2024.

The JumpStart tax has become the single largest source of funding for affordable housing in Seattle, according to the city. It accounts for $240 million of the Office of Housing budget between 2022 and 2023.

Ballots are due by 8 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 7.

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