Passage of the 2023 Housing Levy will provide the largest City investments to date over the next seven years into affordable housing.
Seattle – The City of Seattle celebrates the resounding approval of an unprecedented $970 million Seattle Housing Levy by voters on November 7, 2023. The passage of the levy underscores the unwavering commitment of Seattle voters to meet our affordable housing needs and ensure that Seattle remains a place where all can thrive. This historic achievement represents a major step towards addressing Seattle’s affordable housing crisis and preventing homelessness.
“Tonight’s results show our community’s commitment and demonstrated urgency toward addressing the affordable housing crisis,” said Mayor Bruce Harrell. “Our administration worked with housing advocates, businesses, labor leaders, and community members across Seattle to craft a bold proposal with a detailed plan of action that lives up to the scale of the challenge. We know issues of affordability, housing access, and homelessness are strongly interconnected, and this comprehensive package is designed to make a meaningful impact. The levy means more resources to build more affordable places and permanent supportive housing for people to live, to create new homeownership opportunities that support generational wealth building, and to support workers who provide the services that help people recover and stay housed.”
Unanimously endorsed by the Seattle City Council earlier this year, the Housing Levy is the culmination of an extensive year-long endeavor and a testament to the robust engagement of stakeholders, thoughtful policy development, and a collaborative effort involving our city’s leaders, communities, and organizations.
“Today’s passage of the Seattle Housing Levy by Seattle voters shows our community’s commitment to finding solutions for the housing, displacement, and homelessness crises. I’m inspired by the continued support voters show towards creating more equitable, resilient, and healthy communities,” said Seattle City Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda. “Since the passage of our first-in-the-nation Housing Levy, Seattle’s successes through our Housing Levy investments are clear – more than 16,000 people estimated to live in Levy-supported homes at any given time, investments in first-time homeownership opportunities, and housing stability for thousands of families and individuals—who are our neighbors, the workers, and the communities who make up the fabric of our city. This levy will build on these successes and provide more support to stabilize the workforce serving our most vulnerable neighbors. The return on these investments is immeasurable, and we should be immensely proud as a community.”
With the current Housing Levy set to expire at the end of this year, the new seven-year levy offers a significant opportunity to address the housing crisis in Seattle. With this passage, the levy will continue to play a vital role in creating affordable housing, keeping low-income families in their homes, and providing urgent help to those who are at risk of, or experiencing homelessness. The levy’s investments will support housing affordability for at least 50 years, providing the city’s residents with generational security and stability.
This levy’s goals and strategies will encourage the development of family-size apartments and for-sale homes, bolstering nonprofit community-based organizations in constructing housing that aligns with the unique needs of their communities, advocating for mixed-use development that encompasses childcare, small business opportunities, and cultural spaces, and enhancing investments in workforce stabilization and resident services. Furthermore, this levy will:
- Create Over 3,100 New Affordable Homes: The levy will support the development of more than 3,100 new affordable housing homes, encompassing both rental and homeownership opportunities, meeting the needs of diverse households and providing a foundation for healthy and resilient communities.
- Stabilize Supportive Housing Workforce: For the first time, Housing Levy investments will stabilize wages for workers providing essential services to our most vulnerable residents. This ensures that the critical supportive service needs of low-income individuals and families are met.
- Prevent Homelessness and Ensure Housing Stability: The levy will provide direct assistance to prevent homelessness through short-term rent assistance and housing stability services, with a commitment to serving over 9,000 low-income individuals and families.
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING
Maiko Winkler-Chin, Director, Seattle Office of Housing
“Seattle voters have shown that they believe affordable housing investments are critical for a thriving city. I’m grateful for their support in renewing the Seattle Housing Levy and recognizing that we all deserve a safe and affordable place to call home. With this investment we will build more than 3,000 homes and support residents in affordable housing access and services that will increase their stability; it also ensures that people who work to support residents are paid fairly. As a steward of Levy funding, I value the trust of the people who live, work, and have community here. We will continue to put these dollars to good work by investing in affordable housing, preventing displacement, and supporting developments that make our communities stronger.”
Patience Malaba, Executive Director of the Housing Development Consortium of Seattle-King County (HDC)
“We appreciate the voters’ support in sustaining critical investments for affordable housing in Seattle. The funding from the levy is an essential catalyst to get housing projects off the ground as it typically represents first-dollar commitments that allow projects to access a pipeline of additional resources. Without this initial support from levy funds, many worthwhile projects wouldn’t come to fruition. It is one of the most powerful tools that we have for leveraging other resources from a range of public and private sources, notably the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), the State Housing Trust Fund (HTF), private investment, philanthropy, for-profit lending, and ongoing Section 8 rental subsidies to create desperately needed homes.”
Brett D’Antonio, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity Seattle-King and Kittitas Counties
“Funding from the Seattle Housing Levy has been essential to Habitat for Humanity Seattle-King County’s success in providing affordable homeownership opportunities to our community. We are thrilled and thankful that voters have made their voices heard by renewing the Seattle Housing Levy and look forward to putting these funds to work towards realizing our vision of building a world where everyone deserves a safe, decent, and affordable place to live.”
Karen Lee, CEO, Plymouth Housing
“At Plymouth Housing, our work is proof that real, lasting solutions to homelessness are possible. After all, more than 95 percent of people who come to Plymouth leave homelessness behind forever. As affordable housing providers, we celebrate the passage of the Seattle Housing Levy because it will fuel our life-saving work and take us one step closer to the day when all of Seattle can live with hope and dignity.”
Jane Hopkins, RN, President SEIU Healthcare 1199NW
“As RNs & Healthcare workers we know housing is healthcare and our community can’t get healthy if our patients aren’t housed. We are thrilled that the passage of this levy will help us invest in more affordable housing and the human service providers who work with some of our most vulnerable residents.”
Katie Garrow, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of MLK Labor
“The soaring cost of living in Seattle means that for thousands of working class Seattleites, we are one paycheck from homelessness. The affordable housing and behavioral health services that the levy will fund is an important safety net for working class families. It also has the secondary benefit of economic development – many of the jobs created in construction and behavioral health by this levy are family wage, high road union careers. The Seattle Housing Levy is a necessary investment in the health and well-being of our community, and we join our community in celebrating its passage.”
Yes for Homes Co-Chairs Matt Griffin and Mari Horita
“Tonight’s result demonstrates Seattle residents’ commitment to continue investing in the housing needed to make our city more affordable, welcoming, and equitable. We are pleased that the City of Seattle can continue to build and maintain affordable housing and invest in the workforce needed to help vulnerable people remain housed. We thank the Mayor and Council for their leadership and look forward to seeing the impacts of this levy.”