Despite a tough budget year, Council invests over half a billion dollars in affordable housing and other urgent needs
SEATTLE – Budget Chair Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda (Position 8, Citywide and Chair of the Select Budget Committee) and issued the following press release after the City Council’s final passage of the 2023-2024 budget.
“The budget passed by Council today dually invests in critical community needs for City’s working families and small businesses, including historic investments in affordable housing, frontline childcare and human service providers, and street safety and mobility improvements; and in investments for Seattle’s future, including abortion access, game-changing Green New Deal investments, and mental health counseling for our public-school students,” said Budget Chair Mosqueda. “This budget will allow us to move forward as a City and heal. I am both proud of the final product, and also energized by taking the vital steps forward today to make Seattle a city where all our residents are cared for and housed, connected and resilient, and healthy and safe.There’s much more work to do to fully invest in a resilient and equitable City and I’m deeply thankful to the thousands of Seattle residents, my council colleagues, and Mayor Harrell and his team for the work we’ve collectively done to ensure that Seattle is a city that invests in our residents, workforce, and small businesses,” Mosqueda continued.
A detailed summary of Council-added budget investments can be found here, along with an interactive guide to the nearly 200 budget amendments proposed by the Council. The budget includes a record-high investment in affordable housing – more than half a billion dollars over the next two years. This was possible because of the progressive payroll tax, JumpStart Seattle, which was championed by Councilmember Mosqueda, and reflects a 400% increase in affordable housing funding since 2016. A joint effort from the Mayor and Chair Mosqueda yielded $4 million for mental health services called for by Seattle students in the wake of the Ingraham high school shooting. This budget A full 7.6% inflationary wage increase for our city’s human service providers, ensuring the people working on the front lines of homelessness don’t fall further behind. Thanks to JumpStart, the budget includes $40 million across 2023 and 2024 in Equitable Development Initiative projects that advance economic opportunity, prevent displacement, and meet community needs with developments that include things like housing, childcare, space for small businesses, cultural and community space, and early $40 million for Green New Deal investments, as well as a fully funded public safety system that works toward new, more effective solutions to our most pressing issues.
“I’m proud of this Council’s ability to find common ground, even as we faced the most challenging budget conditions we’ve seen in the last decade,” added Council President Debora Juarez (District 5, North Seattle.) “Budget Chair Mosqueda navigated the difficult terrain of an unprecedented deficit and managed to bring us all forward – together. I thank her for her leadership. To the district representatives on the City Council: you made a difference today,” Juarez continued. “You struck a balance, honoring the needs of your districts as well as the overall greater good of our city. That is no easy task. Well done. This shared leadership at the core of the budget process will allow our city to heal and grow as we move into 2023.”
“This budget prioritizes public safety, fully funding police hiring while investing in new, more effective ways of responding to certain types of 911 calls,” saidBudget Vice Chair Councilmember Lisa Herbold (District 1, West Seattle and Chair of the Public Safety and Human Services Committee.) “Despite our budgetary challenges, we made sure West Seattle has the fire and medic emergency resources it relies on. Together, we have laid the groundwork for a public safety system in Seattle that makes everyone safer.”
This work was done despite a historically difficult budget year. The balancing package was developed less than two weeks after the City received a dire economic forecast, projecting a net $64 million decrease in the Real Estate Excise Tax, a net $9.4 million decrease in the General Fund, and a net $4.5 million decrease in Sweetened Beverage Tax revenues over the biennium. That’s in addition to an operating deficit the City received earlier this year of $141 million in 2023 and $152 million in 2024.
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING:
This budget was heavily influenced by Seattle’s residents and workers. Over the past ten weeks, the Council has convened three public hearings, nine public committee meetings, listened to hundreds of community members, and Councilmembers have proposed nearly 200 amendments.
Additionally, Councilmember Mosqueda’s budget is supported by a diverse array of community members:
“This budget, passed while temperatures drop and thousands of Seattle residents huddle outside, prevents deep cuts and sustains vital human services. On behalf of our members and allies, I thank Council for a budget that honors Seattle’s moral and legal obligation to ensure that community-based organizations don’t fall further behind in this inflationary economy and continuing pandemic, and thus can continue to provide invaluable services for neighbors in need. Front line workers are essential. They support survivors of domestic violence, house thousands of formerly homeless Seattle residents and shelter hundreds more, and provide food security for working families, elders, youth, and refugees – yet too many qualify for and may need public supports to make ends meet. There is much more Seattle’s elected leaders must do to respect all workers who can’t work remotely, to identify new, progressive revenue options, and to build a housed, healthy, and truly safe city,” Alison Eisinger, Executive Director of the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness.
“These investments into affordable housing are so needed in the City of Seattle, particularly for BIPOC communities who are facing the greatest displacement pressures and disproportionate rates of housing insecurity and homelessness. That is why we have been advocating for the ongoing funding included in this budget to help break down barriers to affordable housing developed by and for communities most at risk of displacement. This funding will help the Filipino Community of Seattle fulfill its promise to build affordable housing for working families in South Seattle—and will help bring long-term stability, resilience, and cohesion to our community in the years to come,” said Velma Veloria, of the Filipino Community Center and former WA State 11th Legislative District Representative.
“The human-centered outreach investments included in this budget will strengthen our regional community-based response to homelessness and bring greater equity across neighborhood areas in Seattle. By shifting outreach to the King County Regional Homelessness Authority, we have an exciting opportunity for this team to tap into resources across the whole KCRHA portfolio to support our culturally- and clinically-skilled staff to move people inside and connect them to the help that they need—whether food, clothing, medical care, shelter, and mental health or substance use treatment. These coordinated investments with the Unified Care Team also bring an opportunity to provide sanitation and hygiene services to serve people and communities across the city, including those who are unsheltered, in a better way,” said Chloe Gale, REACH Program Director at Evergreen Treatment Services.
“The passage of the Green New Deal investments in this year’s budget is an important step towards meeting the city’s commitments to addressing the climate crisis. These investments will ensure a just transition for workers, see to the building of community resiliency hubs and center our Indigenous communities in bringing forth their voices with projects and capacity building. These investments strongly reflect the work and recommendations of the city’s Green New Deal Oversight Board and reflect the collaborative relationship with Councilmember Mosqueda’s office,” said Matt Remle, Mazaska Talks and member of the Green New Deal Oversight Board.
“MLK Labor is so excited about the continued funding from the City of Seattle for our Virtual Hiring Hall- the place where we connect job seekers from immigrant and refugee communities to good union jobs. This program has the positive collateral consequence of helping high road employers recruit talent, truly a win-win for workers and our employers,” said Katie Garrow, Executive Secretary-Treasurer, MLK Labor.
“Preschool is the safe, supportive place where parents feel comfortable leaving their kids while they go to work. I’ve worked in child care since 2008, and the pandemic has been the hardest thing I’ve had to navigate. I’m grateful to Seattle and especially Councilmember Mosqueda for recognizing the critical work that child care providers like me do and funding child care hiring and retention bonuses in this year’s budget. These bonuses will make it possible for me to keep my doors open and help me give my staff job security,” said Jenny Lowery, Hullabaloo Preschool Hullabaloo, SEIU 925 member.
“Solving our city’s unprecedented housing crisis requires a series of smart, bold, and collaborative steps. The leadership of the City of Seattle has stepped up with this historic housing budget adoption, scaling up investments of significant resources into deeply affordable rental housing and homeownership, with defined funding for community-driven developers over the biennium. In good faith and partnership with us as a community, the budget keeps the full promise of Jumpstart Seattle for affordable housing, while supporting existing programs. The social and economic benefits of this decision will be felt by families and entire communities in the city,” said Patience Malaba, Executive Director of the Housing Development Consortium.
“Seattle Fire Fighters are happy that Ladder 13 and Medic 26 were included in the 2023-24 Seattle City Budget. Funding these critical resources will ensure that not only the residents of West and South Seattle – but communities throughout our city – will quickly get the fire fighters and paramedics that they need when faced with life threatening emergencies. Seattle Fire Fighters Union, IAFF Local 27 wants to thank City Council Budget Chair Teresa Mosqueda and Councilmember Lisa Herbold for supporting and successfully pushing these funding requests through the budget process. Seattle residents will be safer because of their efforts. Medic 26 and Ladder 13 combined to respond to more than 2,000 emergency calls for service in 2021. Without these units in service residents would have had to wait for units from other areas of the city. So response times would have been much longer and outcomes would likely have been much worse. In addition, without these units the additional Medic and Ladder units that would have been pulled from the downtown core and southeast Seattle into West Seattle would have created a ripple effect and caused slower emergency response times in their primary coverage areas. Not only will the residents of West Seattle benefit from the continuation of Medic 26 and Ladder 13, but this will have a positive impact on the entire City of Seattle because our communities and fire department resources are all connected. This funding improves public safety for all of Seattle.” said Kenny Stuart, the President of Seattle Fire Fighters Union Local 27.
“Programs like the Equitable Development Initiative and Green New Deal fulfill the promise of keeping our communities rooted in place against displacement, safeguard them against economic crises like inflation, and the threat of the climate change. The historic investments into these programs in this budget reflect the hard work and leadership of frontline communities and will create equitable development, economic inclusion, and climate resilience in communities most impacted. We look forward to building on these essential long-term investments by fully funding these programs through JumpStart in future years and exploring alternative sustainable progressive revenues to fund critical services and infrastructure projects in the city.” Debolina Banerjee, Puget Sound Sage Climate Justice and Policy Analyst, and member of the Green New Deal Oversight Board.
“On behalf of the Sweetened Beverage Tax Community Advisory Board, I would like to thank Councilmember Mosqueda and City Council for passing a budget that protects essential services that support for food security and child development. I know this was a tough budget year, but your decisions reflect a commitment to community voice, priorities, and values,” said Tanika Thompson, co-chair of the Sweetened Beverage Tax Community Advisory Board and Food Access Organizer with Got Green.
“The development of the Affected Person’s program is an extremely important step in ensuring that those within our community who have been directly impacted by police violence receive the resources and care they deserve. Stigmas surrounding those within our community who have been victimized by police officers have allowed for a double standard in care and empathy for victims and their families. It is far overdue to address and hold accountable the failings that perpetuate generational harm by way of direct support and finally creating an appellate process for victim complaints,” said Castill Hightower, Impacted People’s Budget.
Council’s budget, after today’s approval, will go to Mayor Harrell for his signature. After the budget is transmitted to his office, the Executive has 10 days to either add his signature or veto the budget. Otherwise, it will go into effect.