Axios: Seattle voters to decide on $970 million housing levy

In response to Seattle’s growing affordability challenge, voters in the city will soon make a crucial decision regarding Proposition No. 1, a new citywide housing levy. If approved, this levy is projected to generate approximately $970 million over the next seven years, primarily allocated to affordable housing projects and rental assistance. The stark reality is that Seattle is grappling with a shortage of approximately 21,000 affordable housing units, forcing many workers, long-term residents, and families to leave. Read the full Axios article here.

Mayor Bruce Harrell and groups like Habitat for Humanity are urging voters to pass the levy, citing the urgency of the city’s housing crisis. According to Ryan Donohue, Chief Advocacy Officer for Habitat for Humanity Seattle-King and Kittitas Counties told Axios, the levy will cost the average Seattle household roughly “the price of a large pumpkin spice latte every week.” As Cliff Cawthon, the group’s Advocacy and Policy Manager, puts it, that’s “a small price to pay to make sure our neighbors have a safe and affordable place to live.”

Proposition No. 1 aims to renew an expiring property tax levy that was last approved by voters in 2016. However, there’s a significant change in the tax rate, which will triple from $0.14 to $0.45 per $1,000 in assessed property value. For the owner of a median-value Seattle home, this translates to an estimated annual cost of $383, about $260 more per year than the expiring levy.

The impact of this levy is substantial. More than $700 million will be channeled into building and preserving approximately 3,500 units of affordable housing over seven years. An additional $30 million will be designated for short-term rental assistance and homelessness prevention, potentially assisting around 4,500 individuals. Furthermore, $50 million will be dedicated to supporting individuals in becoming homeowners through affordable home construction and down payment assistance, while $122 million is earmarked for permanent supportive housing. Overall, the levy could positively impact around 9,000 people, as estimated by city officials.