My office has proposed in the city budget to use $160 million to build 1,000 affordable rental homes.

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CONSTRUCTION cranes loom across Seattle’s skyline as new apartments and condos are being erected at a breakneck pace. This past summer, Seattle had more cranes than any other city in the United States.

Yet for too many of us, these pristine new homes are unaffordable and out of reach. Housing costs are skyrocketing — the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment is now a staggering $2,400 in Seattle. Homelessness has shot up at an alarming rate. Working and middle-class families are increasingly being pushed out of the city. Many who have managed to retain a foothold are able to do so only tenuously.

Earlier this year, Seattle voters passed the new housing levy by a landslide. You know working people take something seriously when they vote to substantially increase their already heavy tax burden to address it. Now it’s time for the city’s elected representatives to show the same resolve on housing affordability.

A few months ago, Mayor Ed Murray, along with several of my fellow council members, made an impassioned case for allocating $160 million — using city bonds — to construct a new police station in the North Precinct. If built, it would have been the most expensive in the nation.

I opposed this proposal in light of the concerns raised by the growing Black Lives Matter movement. I also visited the current North Precinct and discovered it to be entirely serviceable, and that an expensive new building is not needed. Following the major public outcry and organizing by the Block the Bunker Coalition, that plan has been put on hold.

Many inquired if the $160 million could be put to a more socially beneficial use, particularly affordable housing. While state law precludes using this money directly to fund housing, the city could use this $160 million for other necessary planned projects, such as roads, freeing up an equal amount for affordable housing. Moreover, this practice is straightforward and has in fact been routinely employed by mayors in years past.

My office has proposed in the city budget to use this $160 million to build 1,000 affordable rental homes. Recognizing the urgency, affordable housing advocates, the faith community, labor unions, socialists and Democratic legislative districts have come together to back the plan. Hundreds of constituents have called or emailed my office, saying that while they may or may not agree with me on other issues, they want to see these 1,000 homes built.

The mayor, in a recent letter from his budget director to the City Council, argued that this plan is financially risky because it commits future city funds to pay for the housing. But this doesn’t add up. If a new and equally expensive North Precinct building was worth that same risk, how can affordable housing, in the midst of the current emergency, be somehow less compelling?

Some have asked, “Do we really need these 1,000 homes on top of the housing levy?” Unfortunately, too much of Seattle’s development has been leading to older rental buildings being torn down and steady losses in existing affordability. Neither the housing levy nor another 1,000 affordable homes would be sufficient in themselves, but both are crucial.

A thousand new homes mean more housing for people working in low- and medium-wage jobs, families with school-aged children, fixed-income retirees, people with disabilities and the formerly homeless. It means taking real steps toward building an inclusive and welcoming city.

Between now and Nov. 21, the council will vote on a series of amendments to the city budget, including this amendment to build 1,000 affordable homes. I encourage you to get involved and help ensure this opportunity does not pass us by.