Mayor Bruce Harrell proposed a $970 million Housing Levy at the Housing Development Consortium’s 35th Annual Celebration last week. Over 800 affordable housing developers, operators, funders, and community partners from King County attended the event. If the Seattle City Council approves, the levy could be presented to voters for approval in November 2023.
The proposed Housing Levy would support the development of over 3,000 new affordable housing units across the city and stabilize wages for workers providing essential services to low-income residents with the greatest needs. Proceeds from the levy would also make unprecedented investments in operations and maintenance to ensure the long-term safety and sustainability of City-funded affordable housing.
Mayor Harrell highlighted the Housing Levy’s success in providing affordable housing solutions, stating that the new plan would help tackle the housing crisis and prevent homelessness more effectively than ever.
The Housing Levy, a seven-year property tax last approved in 2016, contributes to building affordable housing, maintaining low-income families in their homes, and providing emergency assistance for those experiencing homelessness. Seattle residents have consistently supported the Housing Levy since 1986, with each levy meeting or exceeding its objectives.
Over 16,000 people currently live in homes funded by the Housing Levy. As the existing levy will expire at the end of 2023, Mayor Harrell’s proposal aims to renew and significantly expand this vital resource. The proposed levy would create more than 3,000 new affordable rental and for-sale homes for low-income residents, including seniors, low-wage workers, families with children, and individuals experiencing homelessness. The levy would also maintain essential rental assistance programs and other long-standing priorities that have helped thousands of Seattle families.
A significant feature of the new proposal is increased investments in the maintenance of existing housing, operations of supportive housing, and staffing infrastructure crucial to assisting people in rebuilding their lives.
The Mayor’s proposal evolved from 11 months of community and stakeholder engagement led by the Office of Housing between February 2022 and January 2023. A 20-member Technical Advisory Committee, comprising subject matter experts, housing developers, service providers, public agencies addressing housing and homelessness, and representatives for workers in affordable housing, also contributed to the proposal’s development.