Seattle mayor wants property tax increase to raise money for homelessness
During his State of the City Address Tuesday morning, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray says he wants to increase property taxes this year to generate more money for the city’s homelessness crisis.
Murray said he formed an advisory group for how to raise $55 million for homelessness, and he wants a funding package within two weeks.
That $55 million per year would be paid for by residential and commercial property taxes – about $156 for the median household.
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“For 3,000 people living unsheltered, our streets have become a default, inadequate and dangerous place to live,” said Murray.
Though the city budgeted $108 million for homelessness services combined over the last two years, Murray said it has not been enough.
“Not enough for those who have been victims of crimes, like the young teenage girls who have been trapped in encampments and trafficked for sex. Not enough for the three toddlers found without parents under the Spokane Street Viaduct. We must do more to address the dangers faced by those living in unauthorized encampments.”
Murray said the additional money would allow the city to invest in mental health and addiction treatment and to get more people off the streets.
The mayor said though raising taxes was not his first choice, he believes the residents of Seattle are ready to support such a measure.
“We had hoped for a vigorous partnership with the federal government, but we are on our own,” said Murray.
Murray hopes to qualify the property tax measure for the August ballot.
The plan comes as Seattle residents within the Sound Transit 3 boundaries are already facing hefty property tax and car tab hikes after the controversial ST3 measure passed in November.