In November, Seattle voters will get the chance to give a thumbs-up or thumbs-down to a beefed-up version of a tax that would pay for new affordable housing construction in the city.
Mayor Bruce Harrell put forward a proposal on a new $970 million Housing Levy that will pay out over the course of seven years. It’s expected to fund 3,000 new units of affordable housing, in addition to workforce stabilization and other tools to address the homelessness crisis, according to a March 30 release.
The newest iteration of the Housing Levy would, for the first time, make investments to stabilize wages for workers that serve low-income residents.
“The Housing Levy is a proven solution for delivering thousands of affordable housing options,” Harrell said in the press release. “Rooted in our One Seattle values that everyone should have a safe place to call home, this plan invests to meet the scale of the housing crisis, doing more than ever to prevent homelessness.”
The last Housing Levy constituted $290 million over seven years, not quite a third of the new measure. The 2016 proposal was meant to produce and preserve 2,150 affordable apartments, reinvest in 350 apartments and support operations for another 510 apartments. The median cost to Seattle voters was $122 per year. The new levy would cost about $383 per year.
Harrell’s proposal would put $707 million toward rental housing production and preservation, $51 million toward affordable home ownership and another $30 million toward prevention and housing stabilization.
What you paid for
Local voters are asked to tax themselves for services most years, and so you know, that money does go somewhere. Additional branches of Seattle libraries will be open longer as of April 4, funded through money approved by Seattleites in a local library levy.
Check out the hours of your local branch at spl.org/hours-and-locations.
No place to call home
Evictions shot up across the country, according to data compiled by Eviction Lab, a project out of Princeton University.
Courts have seen more than 2 million evictions in 10 states and 34 cities since the start of the pandemic, according to the Eviction Tracking System. Those numbers mark a rapid increase since pandemic-era eviction protections ended.
According to Eviction Lab, it took two years to clock 1 million evictions in its database, but the second million was added in just one. All told, a preliminary report suggests that evictions increased by 80 percent between 2021 and 2022.
The end of eviction moratoria, increase in rent prices and drying up of rental assistance all contributed to the increase in evictions.
Ashley Archibald is the editor of Real Change News.
Read more of the Apr. 5-11, 2023 issue.