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Mayor Murray proposes to double housing tax in Seattle

A Seattle City Council candidate believes the local government is bloated. (AP)

In keeping with his promise to raise Seattle’s housing tax, Mayor Ed Murray submitted his proposal Thursday morning that would double the local housing levy.

“Expanding the Housing Levy is the most important thing we will do this year to support affordability in Seattle,” Murray said. “The levy is a powerful resource to build more affordable homes for low-income families and help people at risk of falling into homelessness. We value an equitable and diverse city and we will renew our commitment to affordable housing.”

Related: Mayor Murray states intention to raise housing tax for homeless crisis

The Seattle Housing Levy has achieved voter approval five times since 1981. The last time it passed, in 2009, it was for $145 million. Murray aims to raise the levy to $290 million. According to his proposal, the 7-year levy will cost a Seattle homeowner (with a median home value of $480,000) about $122 in taxes annually.

Seattle City Council member Tim Burgess is in charge of forming a council committee to look into Murray’s proposal.

The tax money from the housing levy is slated to assist low-income residents, seniors, people with disabilities and those experiencing homelessness. Murray also wants to use the levy money for homelessness prevention and homeownership assistance.

The proposal claims the $290 million will produce and preserve 2,150 low-income apartments for 50 years. It will also contribute tenant-paid rent in 510 apartments for low-income residents. It also states that 4,500 families facing immediate risk of eviction will be provided rental assistance. Murray also wants to use the levy to help 180 first-time homebuyers to purchase affordable homes.

Previous levies have contributed to 800 families purchasing their first home, and provided funding to 12,500 affordable apartments in Seattle, according to the city.

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