seattle-housing-1-compressed Photo: Wonderlane/Flickr

The Select Committee on affordable housing recently held a meeting to review Mayor Murray’s Seattle Housing Levy renewal proposal. The 2009 Seattle Housing Levy expires at the end of 2016, and Mayor Murray has proposed renewing and expanding the levy to provide $290 million over seven years for affordable housing.

According to the Mayor’s proposal, “in the last 30 years, this local investment has successfully created and preserved over 12,500 affordable homes throughout the city, helped 800 families purchase their first home and provided emergency rental assistance to 6,500 households.”

The committee on affordable housing, neighborhoods and finance will discuss and send the proposal with any changes to the full Seattle City Council for a vote on whether or not to put it on the ballot by late April or early May, reports CHS. If the council approves, the levy will show up on the ballot for Seattle citizens to vote on in August of this year.

As per the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) committee’s recommendations, Murray wants to double the existing housing levy—which has collected $145 million since 2009—to $290 million over the next seven years. The city estimates that this comes out to an annual increase of $122 for the median Seattle homeowner (up from $61 annually). This amount includes a nine percent administration cost.

The levy renewal proposes $201 million of the total be used for a rental production and preservation program that will provide 2,150 new rental properties and fix up 350 existing rentals for people with disabilities, the elderly, homeless individuals and families, low-wage working people, and families with children.

An additional $42 million would go toward operating and maintenance support for new and existing affordable housing. The mayor hopes to prevent homelessness for 4,500 families by investing $11.5 million to provide short-term rent assistance and stability services for families who are at imminent risk of eviction and homelessness. For low-income homeowners, the mayor’s office proposes $9.5 million for home repair grants and first-time home buyer assistance.

Much like the Let’s Move Seattle levy that the city approved this winter, the Seattle Housing Levy renewal will seek support from Seattle’s business community, social and economic justice groups, homelessness advocates, and the developer and non-profit housing community. For more information, you can view the full presentation from the Office of Housing on the proposal here.

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