SEATTLE – The $290 million Affordable Housing Levy was passing easily, election returns showed Tuesday night.
Proposition 1, which will raise Seattle homeowners' property taxes, was holding a strong 68-32% edge at the end of the first night's results.
Mayor Ed Murray said it was one step in a long stride needed to guarantee affordable housing in Seattle and combat homelessness.
“Five for five,” said the mayor to an eruption of cheers. He spoke to supporters at a Primary Election viewing party in Capitol Hill. The new levy would double the last levy approved by voters in 2009. It will be the fifth levy approved by voters since the 1980s, addressing the issue of affordable housing in Seattle.
Seattle now has the highest rent increase in the nation. A new report released Monday by Apartment List said Seattle’s rents are growing four times faster than the national average. It’s a problem, said Murray, when the incomes of Seattle residents remain the same.
“It’s not one strategy, it’s a series of strategies to make Seattle a leader in affordable housing, but this is the key piece,” he said. “We doubled affordable housing levy by, it appears, a 75 percent yes vote.”
A majority, $200 million, of the levy will go towards building 2,150 affordable homes and 350 apartments. Another $11 million will go towards providing emergency rental assistance, helping those homeless and on the brink of eviction.
In order to reach the 20,000 affordable homes by 2025 the mayor promised in a speech last year, he told Q13 News fees will be used.
“They come from the fee that we will charge developers as they develop commercial property, it will come from requiring that when someone builds a multi-family building that they will build affordable units in there as well,” said the mayor.
The 2016 Affordable Housing Levy will cost the average Seattle homeowner roughly $10 more a month.