The new seven-year levy will cost the owner of a $480,000 home about $122 annually, $61 more than the current levy.
Seattle voters signed on to a $290 million property-tax levy for low-income housing Tuesday, twice the amount approved seven years ago at the tail end of the Great Recession.
The new seven-year levy, on the ballot as Seattle Proposition No. 1, will cost the owner of a $480,000 home about $122 annually, $61 more than the current levy.
Amid rising rents, homeless encampments, bidding wars and displacement, the measure was passing with 68 percent.
“I really do think this is a city defining what you do with economic inequality,” Mayor Ed Murray said of the results. “I’m a little amazed,” he added, at both the lead and voters approving the fifth special tax levy the mayor has campaigned for in two years.
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“Seattle voters today put their money where their hearts are,” said City Councilmember Tim Burgess.
Most of the new money is to be spent on building, renovating or preserving about 2,150 units of rent- and income-restricted housing.
To qualify for the housing, people must earn 60 percent or less of the area’s median income, according to city projections. That amounts to $37,980 for one person, $43,380 for a couple or $54,180 for a family of four.
Much of the levy money is to be aimed at housing for very low-income people, those earning less than 30 percent of the area’s median income.
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The pro-levy campaign raised $328,000 in contributions, with about two-thirds of the money coming from developers, both nonprofit and for-profit.
There was no organized campaign against the levy. (The 2009 levy received 66 percent of the vote.)
But two North Seattle homeowners — Glenn Singer and Brianna McDonald — wrote a statement opposing the levy for the Voters’ Guide.
They argued that the levy, although twice as costly as the previous one, was projected to build or renovate fewer units than the roughly 2,500 provided for by the 2009 levy.
In response, city officials said costs for construction, land and building materials had increased since 2009.
Federal funding that the city combines with local money for affordable housing has also declined about 30 percent since 2010, according to city officials. And federal housing vouchers Seattle uses for especially vulnerable residents, such as the mentally ill homeless, have declined as well.
A spokesman for the city housing office noted that the 2009 levy was projected to create far fewer units (1,670) than it eventually did.
Roughly $26 million from the new levy will go to administration, including Office of Housing salaries.