Jeanne Kohl-Welles

Seattle P.I.: King County Council votes to invest millions toward affordable housing

By Becca Savransky

King County Council earlier this week took a step to unlock millions of dollars for affordable housing.

The council passed a resolution that will allow it to invest about $100 million from the state’s sales and use tax into affordable housing over the next 20 years. Under the legislation, the funds can be used for building and maintaining affordable housing units for people who make at or below 60% of the area median income.

The resolution comes after Washington state legislators earlier this year passed legislation authorizing cities and counties to keep a portion of the state’s sales tax for affordable housing projects. The revenue from the sales tax would have traditionally gone to the state general fund.

In a statement, Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles emphasized the importance of using every available option to address the homelessness crisis.

“Despite a strong economy we still face significant challenges—including increasing income inequality, housing displacement and homelessness,” Kohl-Welles, Chair of the Health, Housing and Human Services Committee, said in a news release.

“In order to stem the tide of people experiencing homelessness we have to maximize every available tool, in addition to addressing the root causes and systemic and institutional inequities that perpetuate this crisis.”

Marty Kooistra, the executive director of the Housing Development Consortium of Seattle-King County, praised the council for taking steps to help curb the housing crisis.

“Solving our area’s unprecedented housing crisis requires a series of smart, bold steps,” he said in a release.

“And now the leadership of King County has stepped up with this critical decision to enact the ordinances necessary to retain a portion of state sales tax for the production and preservation of affordable housing. The social and economic benefits of this decision will be felt by families and entire communities in King County.”

Seattle City Council earlier this month similarly passed a resolution to access its portion of the state’s sales tax for affordable housing.

report released late last year by the Regional Affordable Housing Task Force estimated King County needs 244,000 new affordable housing units by 2040 to “ensure that all families in King County have a safe and healthy home that costs less than 30% of their income.”

“Residents in every community in the county are facing an unprecedented challenge in finding and keeping a home they can afford,” the report said.

“Affordable housing is a critical component of our region’s infrastructure, and we must act together across all levels of government and all sectors, to address this crisis and ensure the health and livability of our communities and the economic vitality of our region.”

Read the full article here.

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