SEATTLE – Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda (Position 8, Citywide) was joined today by a coalition of affordable housing developers, labor leaders, community organizations, the City of Seattle Office of Housing, and others announcing the legislation (Council Bill 120584 and Resolution 32093) renewing the Seattle Housing Levy, including amendments proposed by the Seattle City Council. The Mayor and Select Committee Chair are in lockstep on need for robust $970 million package that invests in permanent supportive housing, resident services, workforce supports and strong labor standards.
Councilmember Mosqueda chairs the Council’s Select Committee about the 2023 Housing Levy, which received Mayor Bruce Harrell’s seven-year, $970 million proposal for the Levy on March 30, 2023. The Select Committee has been meeting since March, unpacking the proposal, hearing from the public, and crafting amendments.
Seattle’s affordable housing needs have grown dramatically since the last Housing Levy was passed in 2016. The COVID pandemic and economic downturn have created far greater housing instability in our community than Seattle has seen in previous decades. At the same time, wages have not kept pace with inflation, and many workers in affordable housing are themselves struggling with housing insecurity.
“This Housing Levy renewal legislation affirms the bold investment into the health and resilience of our city proposed by the Mayor, and reflects Councilmember priorities that will enhance our focus on serving communities most impacted by our housing, homelessness, and displacement crises,” said Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda. “This package goes beyond creating just units—it invests in the stability and well-being of our neighbors, the workers, and the communities who make up the fabric of our city.”
Since 1986, the Housing Levy has been the cornerstone of funding for affordable housing in Seattle, creating and preserving over 11,000 affordable rental homes and over 1,000 homeownership opportunities throughout the city. More than 16,000 people are estimated to live in Levy-supported homes at any given time. The 2016 Housing Levy is set to expire at the end of 2023, hence the proposed renewal.
The 2016 Housing Levy:
- Exceeded Expectations – The 2016 levy exceeded rental housing production goals by 27%, affordable homeownership goals by 32%, and rental housing preservation goals by 51%.
- Prevented Homelessness – More than 95% of people who received homelessness prevention assistance were still in stable housing one year later.
- Leveraged Investments – Every $1 invested from the 2016 Housing Levy was matched by more than $3.50 from other sources of public and private investments.
Highlights from the Proposed Levy
The proposed 2023 Housing Levy would make historic investments in both affordable homes as well as the people who live and work in them. The levy would raise $970 Million over 7 years (2024-2030), and build over 3,100 new homes, both for-rent and for-sale, that will be affordable for at least 50 years. The 2023 Housing Levy is expected to generate nearly 35% more units of affordable rental housing over the 2016 levy goals.
Other highlights include:
- Stabilizing workers – Human service providers, like those supporting individuals who have experienced homelessness, are paid so little that they often struggle to afford housing themselves and sometimes enrolling in the same assistance programs as their clients. This dynamic also creates challenges The proposed levy, in concert with funds from JumpStart payroll tax funds, would help stabilize wages for people doing this critical work. These investments would enable the workers in supportive and affordable housing to continue to do their jobs while taking care of themselves and their families.
- Preventing and reducing homelessness – The proposed levy increases investments in homelessness prevention so that individuals and families stay stably housed. Investments include short-term rental assistance and other supports to help low-income households avoid eviction, displacement, or homelessness.
- Leveraging levy dollars to increase impacts – The proposed levy prioritizes investments supporting households at the lowest incomes, with the highest needs. At least 60% of combined capital and services funding in the proposed levy would support housing affordable to households at 0-30% AMI (area median income). As with prior levies, this focus on deeply affordable housing is anticipated to leverage additional state and federal investment, stretching City dollars further and increasing impacts on local housing affordability.
Enhancements to the Mayor’s proposed Levy renewal package through Councilmember amendments reflected in the introduced legislation include:
- Family-sized housing – Encourages the development of additional family-sized homes, like two-, three-, or four-bedroom apartments and for-sale homes to provide options for diverse households.
- Support for community-based affordable housing – Provides support for smaller non-profit, community-based developers creating affordable housing that reflects the needs of the communities they are rooted in.
- Promotes affordable housing developments that serve the broader community – Develops housing with mixed uses like educational programs, childcare, small business opportunities, as well as community and cultural spaces.
- Creates robust metrics and reporting – Enhances metrics and reporting in new investment areas, including workforce stabilization and resident services.
What People Are Saying
“The 2023 Housing Levy, as proposed, will help us respond to Seattle’s needs today, while also planning for the next 50 years of housing affordability in our city,” said Maiko Winkler-Chin, Director of the Office of Housing. “As we move through the next steps to renew the Housing Levy this year, we look forward to continuing to work alongside the Mayor’s Office, City Council, and all of our housing partners to lay the groundwork for strong, resilient communities for future generations,” said Director Maiko Winkler-Chin, Office of Housing
“The Housing Development Consortium stands in strong support of the proposed legislation to renew the Housing Levy at $970 million to produce more than 3,000 affordable homes for the people and families who need them most, while preventing thousands more from experiencing homelessness. This is truly a generational investment in affordable homes, in our community, and in the workers who turn buildings into homes. This legislation rises to the moment and will build on the record success of past levies that have consistently created affordable homes, kept families in their homes, and provided critical services to move people experiencing homelessness into housing. It will continue to give tens of thousands of people from all walks of life a fighting chance to find an affordable home in Seattle,” said Patience Malaba, Executive Director of Housing Development Consortium
“The cost of housing is a challenge that all working families in Seattle deal with. For many of us who work in Seattle, working 40 hours a week is still not enough to be able to afford a home here. Mayor Harrell and the leadership on the City Council are proposing a levy that will make a historic and much needed investment in addressing our housing crisis. The levy legislation also includes improvements to wages and working conditions for the people who work in permanent supportive housing and build affordable housing units, which we applaud,” said Katie Garrow, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of MLK Labor
“”This housing levy legislation is more than just a commitment to much-needed brick and mortar developments. It’s a commitment to housing our people with the kind of love, compassion, and dedication that will transform lives and begin repairing the traumas of previous generations,” said Derrick Belgarde, Executive Director of Chief Seattle Club
“My coworkers at DESC work to help house and keep people housed who have been chronically homeless in our community by providing them the support they need. We don’t do this work to get rich. We do this work to help people. But it is really hard to do that when you are housing unstable yourself, or are an hour commute away from work each way. We need to belong in the community we serve. If we can live here, commute from here, make a life with our families here, we will be this City’s greatest support in tackling homelessness. This is our calling and the levy legislation is a chance to treat it like that. We do belong here, and this housing levy finally supports that,” said Naomi Lewis, RN, with DESC.
“Habitat believes that everybody deserves a safe, decent, and affordable place to call home. That’s why we are strongly supporting this Housing Levy renewal legislation. Not only will it create more homeownership opportunities for more people, but it will help us create more homeowners as well,” said Ryan Donahue, Chief Advocacy Officer, Habitat for Humanity Seattle-King & Kittitas Counties
“The Seattle Building Trades support the bold goals of the proposed 2023 Seattle Housing Levy renewal legislation. We are excited about the affordable homes that will be created with this levy, including providing more working families affordable opportunities to achieve the American Dream and own a home. This is a historic levy proposal because it also includes a Community Workforce Agreement and a commitment to increase equity and economic opportunity for workers through apprenticeship and Priority Hire. We can address the City’s serious affordable housing challenge while also supporting working people and fostering access to construction careers.,” said Monty Anderson, Executive Secretary of Seattle/King County Building Trades.
The Select Committee on the 2023 Housing Levy will meet June 7 for discussion and possible vote on the 2023 Housing Levy legislation. If voted out of Committee, it will then proceed to full City Council for a final vote. If passed, it will head to the Mayor for his signature.
For more information on the Housing Levy proposal see the Committee’s webpage.