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Councilmember: King County sales tax doesn’t address homeless causes

A homeless camp in Ballard. (Photo: Rob Harwood)

In an 8 to 1 vote, the King County Council approved a 0.1% sales tax increase that would go to purchasing hotels and former nursing homes to house the region’s homeless population. King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn was the lone no vote, and joined the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH to discuss why.

“Two weeks ago this was announced. There was a race as quickly as possible with very little public process to jam this thing through. It was a rare council-matic taxing authority, which means the nine members of the council could decide, and it doesn’t go to a vote of the people, which is an unusual taxing mechanism that isn’t used very often,” he said.

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“It will generate about $80 million, which will then borrow against their bonding to generate $400 million to buy all kinds of housing spread all throughout King County and the suburbs to disperse Seattle’s homeless population into those communities.”

Dunn says this move doesn’t do enough to address many of the underlying issues of homelessness and is more of a short-term solution.

“The issue is you have a whole bunch of underlying causes that are leading to homelessness, mental health challenges, substantial addiction, drug and alcohol addiction, and so what this does is it follows suit with Los Angeles County, put $400 million out there — which, by the way, is exactly about what LA county is doing and they are four times, almost five times larger than us — it essentially pay for residences for the chronically homeless. If you break it down by number, it’s about $200,000 of public money per individual that we are seeking to house,” he said.

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“It doesn’t seem to require much action, if any, from the individual homeless member that would be housed to the tax dollars. So my concern is that it has happened really, really fast and that it have performance measures, accountability built in, and it was done really under the cover of darkness. And so that’s largely why I voted no.”

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3 – 6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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