SEATTLE—On three occasions, the voters here agreed to raise their taxes to support affordable housing.
Mayor Greg Nickels wants to make it four. At the end of April, he unveiled a proposal to renew the existing housing levy, which expires this year.
Nickels is seeking a new seven-year, $145 million levy. For the average homeowner, the property tax would cost $79 a year, an increase of nearly $30 from the 2002 levy. The City Council has the final word on what goes before voters in November.
Support for affordable housing began in 1981 with a bond issue, followed by a housing levy in 1986, 1995, and 2002. More than 10,000 units have been funded.
This vote might be the toughest yet as households tighten their purse strings during the economic decline.
“I recognize that these are difficult times, that families and businesses throughout our city are struggling to make ends meet, but it is at precisely those sorts of times that we have the greatest need in our community,” says Nickels, who is also up for re-election this year.
Under the new levy proposal, the funds will be spent in five key areas. The largest piece, $104 million, will help build and preserve about 1,670 affordable rental units.