MYNORTHWEST NEWS

Seattle to spend $970 million on affordable housing as levy appears to pass

Nov 8, 2023, 12:00 PM | Updated: 5:40 pm

Image: Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell is seen in 2023....

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell is seen in 2023. (Photo: Mat Hayward, Getty Images)

(Photo: Mat Hayward, Getty Images)

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell is celebrating the approval of a $970 million housing levy that the city claimed will help create affordable housing.

“We know issues of affordability, housing access, and homelessness are strongly interconnected, and this comprehensive package is designed to make a meaningful impact,” Harrell said in a statement. “The levy means more resources to build more affordable places and permanent supportive housing for people to live, to create new homeownership opportunities that support generational wealth building, and to support workers who provide the services that help people recover and stay housed.”

The latest check of the City’s Proposition 1, had Yes leading No 66-34%.

The levy will raise property taxes to generate $970 million over seven years, replacing an existing levy that expires at the end of 2023. It will add an average of $300-$400 to an average Seattle property owner’s taxes.

One Seattle is what the mayor calls his plan to make the city more equitable, livable, sustainable and resilient for current and future residents by tackling a myriad of issues Seattle faces: Racial equity, housing costs, access to economic opportunity and education, climate change and more.

Within his budget proposal earlier this year is $106 million for the King County Regional Homelessness Authority (KCRHA) to support outreach, shelter and other critical programs. While still a significant sum, KCRHA claimed in January it needed $11.8 billion over five years to effectively deal with the homelessness crisis in Seattle.

More on King County Regional Homeless Authority: 5-year plan to address homelessness approved

In addition, there’s $26.5 million of the proposed budget allotted to support the new Community Assisted Response and Engagement (CARE) Department, an increase of 30% over 2023. The Housing for Workforce Stabilization Fund is set to receive $26 million to support permanent supportive housing providers wages, while $23 million is to be invested in human service provider wages and wage equity, representing a 9.5% increase in pay over 2023, along with childcare worker retention bonuses.

Information from the mayor’s office also stated $17 million will be dedicated toward diversion programs like Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD). It is a program that provides community-based care for people who commit law violations related to behavioral health issues or extreme poverty.

In addition, $15 million has been set to support the Downtown Activation Plan (DAP) and Future of Seattle Economy agenda.

Greg Spotts, the director of the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), stated the 2024 proposed budget will also work towards increasing Seattle’s diminishing tree canopy while also continuing the city’s work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Pilot projects with electric vehicles for street sweeping are underway.

In support of the city ordinance passed earlier this year meant to protect more trees and Seattle’s dwindling canopy, $264,000 is being added to support planting and watering new trees.

Contributing: Bill Kaczaraba/MyNorthwest.com

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