Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell

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Jun 16 2009

The 2009 Housing Levy: Now Let the Voters Speak

Published by at 10:50 pm under Homelessness,Housing Levy

The Seattle City Council has been working diligently on finalizing legislation that would put a 7-year, 2009 Housing Levy on the November 2009 ballot. The goal: Affordable housing. We held 8 public meetings and many of us reviewed enormous amounts of written materials to develop, what we believed was a great package to place on the November ballot. On June 15th, the full council unanimously approved legislation supporting the final package for the voters. This is not a new levy. It is a renewal of a levy which voters have approved since 1981 (three levies and one bond). I want to thank Councilmember Richard McIver for chairing the Housing Levy Committee of the Whole and for his leadership in shaping a good package. The $145 million proposal will pencil out to about $79 annually in cost to the average homeowner. A recent survey shows that 73 percent of our citizens support continued investment in housing. This demonstrates the generous nature of our city. We have done our part on the Council. In November, it will be up to the voters to decide.

The proposed 2009 levy calls for a seven year duration and $145 million in funding, which will be allocated to six program areas:

  • Rental Production and Preservation Program—proposed to receive $104 million in funds and produce an estimated 1,670 units.
  • Operating and Maintenance Program—proposed to receive $14.4 million in funds and estimated to serve 220 households.
  • Rental Assistance Program—proposed to receive $4.2 million in funds and estimated to serve 605 households.
  • Acquisition and Opportunity Loan Fund (A&O)—proposed to receive $6.5 million in funds and produce an estimated 175 units.
  • Homebuyer Assistance Program—proposed to receive $9.09 million in funds and produce an estimated 180 units.
  • Administration—proposed to receive $13.3 million in funds which will be used to assist with loan underwriting, drafting legal documents, construction draws and other areas.

Below: Nihonmachi Terrace – 50 units, Funded from the 2002 Seattle Housing Levy (InterIm Community Development)
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In 2002, Seattle voters passed a seven-year, $86 million Housing Levy. At last report, six years into the program, all of the goals set forth had been surpassed and the 2002 levy was very successful in helping those in our city who need it the most. Now, I am hopeful that our voters have the information, background and commitment to make a voting decision that they believe is in the best interest of all our residents. Affordable housing is an essential part of our city that we must preserve.

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