Seattle City Council sends affordable housing levy to voters

The Seattle City Council unanimously approved an ordinance today putting the 2023 Housing Levy renewal on the ballot this November. The legislation, sponsored by Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, affirms Mayor Bruce Harrell’s proposal made public earlier this year. The mayor signed the bill immediately following the Council meeting.

If approved by voters, the seven-year levy would replace the current Housing Levy that is set to expire. It would raise more than $970 million to build affordable housing in Seattle, according to estimates.  

How funding from the 2023 Housing Levy would be used 

Rental Production and Preservation:  
$707,270,379 Capital funding for new production of affordable rental housing, acquisition of structures to create or preserve affordable housing, and reinvestment in existing affordable housing to make capital improvements. 

Operating, Maintenance, and Services:  
$122,300,000 Operating support for Housing Levy-funded buildings for 20 years, supplementing rent paid by low-income residents, including formerly homeless residents and other residents with supportive service needs. Wage stabilization support for supportive housing workers serving residents who have experienced homelessness and who are living with low incomes. 

Homeownership Program:  
$50,689,796 Assistance to low-income homeowners to maintain stable housing through emergency home repair grants, assistance to eligible homebuyers through home purchase loans, and development subsidy loans for the development of new resale-restricted homes. 

Prevention and Housing Stabilization:  
$30,000,000 Rent assistance and stabilization services for low-income individuals and families to prevent eviction, support housing stability, and address homelessness.  

Acquisition and Preservation:  
Up to $30,000,000 (no additional funding) Short-term acquisition loans for cost-effective purchases of buildings or land for rental or homeownership development. 

$60,000,000 Funding for administration of all programs, including holding costs and predevelopment costs for land in the City’s possession. 

History of Seattle’s Housing Levy 

The Seattle Housing Levy has been a central part of the city’s work to build affordable housing since 1986. The levy is responsible for building and preserving more than 11,000 affordable rental homes and more than 1,000 homeownership opportunities throughout the city, according to the Seattle Office of Housing.  

The last seven-year Housing Levy was approved by voters in 2016 with 70.6 percent of the vote. A report in 2022 showed that, in five years, it had exceeded its goals around rental housing production, rental housing preservation, and creating homeownership opportunities.  

The Office of Housing has been working with community members to get their feedback on the 2023 Housing Levy since February 2022. During that time, the office has reported meeting with people representing 49 different organizations and held around a dozen focus group, committee meetings, and open houses.  

Mayor Harrell announced his proposal for the 2023 Housing Levy in March, sending it to Council for review. With today’s action, Council has affirmed that proposal. 

What’s next?  

The 2023 Housing Levy will now be up for a vote during Seattle’s November 7, 2023 General Election. It would pass if a simple majority of voters approve the levy.  

Comments are closed.