Seattle social housing initiative falling short on signatures: How it could still get on the ballot

Jul 14, 2022, 11:04 AM

Photo from KIRO 7...

Photo from KIRO 7

While the group behind Initiative 135, which concerns developing and maintaining affordable housing in Seattle and would establish a public developer that would create, own and maintain the public housing, submitted 29,552 signatures in late June to get on the fall ballot, it appears it will need more valid signatures.

RELATED: Primary election ballots mailed out across King County

House Our Neighbors will have to make a final push to get 26,520 valid signatures. King County Elections has accepted 18,074 signatures as of Wednesday and there are more than 4,000 left to count. While those numbers are significant, even if all the signatures are deemed to be valid, the group would still fall short of the needed number.

However, if an initiative does not have enough valid signatures, petitioners can get an extra 20-day “signature procurement,” allowing them to collect the remaining signatures needed, according to the Seattle city charter.

While House Our Neighbors is working to get the initiative on the ballot, the Housing Development Consortium (HDC) has concerns about Initiative 135 and said:

“We welcome innovation and share many of the same values as the backers of the Initiative. These include the belief that every person deserves a safe, affordable home, and that we need a scale of public investment in affordable housing that lives up to this value. However, this Initiative would divert scarce public resources toward the creation of a new bureaucracy and is a distraction from what should be our priority as a City—greatly increasing funding for affordable housing to meet the scale of the need.”

HDC also said that those backing the initiative have “failed to outline how the social housing proposed under the initiative would be financed as described, or to identify a viable funding source.”

The consortium said Seattle already has a potent system for skillfully developing and operating affordable homes.

Part of the Initiative text reads: “Social housing is publicly owned, publicly financed, mixed-income housing, removed from market forces and speculation, and built with the express aim of housing people equitably and affordably. Under public control and oversight, social housing is sustainable and remains affordable in perpetuity.”

Read the full text of I-135 here.

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Seattle social housing initiative falling short on signatures: How it could still get on the ballot