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City of Seattle
Gregory J. Nickels (former Mayor)

SUBJECT: Housing Levy Renewal Needed Now More than Ever

4/29/2009  1:30:00 PM
Todd Burley  (206) 684-5081

Housing Levy Renewal Needed Now More than Ever
Programs will continue to support and stabilize struggling families and individuals

Housing Levy Renewal Needed Now More than Ever, April 29, 2009

SEATTLE - Mayor Greg Nickels today announced his proposal to renew the Seattle Housing Levy, which expires at the end of 2009. He made his announcement in the courtyard of the Seattle Housing Levy-funded Stone Way Apartments in Wallingford, surrounded by current and former residents of levy-funded housing.

“Seattle voters have always voted to help house our most vulnerable neighbors. This levy renewal will ensure struggling families, seniors and other vulnerable people keep a roof over their heads,” Nickels said.

More than half of the proposed seven-year, $145 million levy will be dedicated to families and individuals earning mimumum wage or less - including retail, restaurant and hotel workers, as well as seniors living on fixed incomes. For the average homeowner, the property tax would cost $79 annually - about $6.60 a month.

A recent survey showed that 73 percent of Seattle residents surveyed believed that, in this economic downturn, it’s more important than ever to keep investing in low-income housing programs and assistance.

The proposed 2009 levy programs will preserve existing affordable housing; provide housing for people coming out of homelessness, seniors and people who are disabled; provide emergency rental assistance; provide loans to first-time homebuyers; and create a fund to make strategic purchases of land and buildings to preserve or convert to affordable housing.

“The levy is proven as an effective tool for stabilizing families, individuals and neighborhoods,” said Councilmember Richard McIver, chair of City Council’s Housing and Economic Development Committee. “It is an investment in both the families and individuals who need housing assistance and the broader community, as it keeps our housing market stable by helping to prevent evictions.”

Over the next seven years, the Housing Levy will develop or preserve 1,670 units of housing, creating homes for 9,300 people; provide emergency rent assistance for 3,850 households, preventing eviction and homelessness; and help 180 first-time homebuyers purchase a home in the neighborhood where they work.

Adrienne Quinn, director of the Seattle Office of Housing said, “The Housing Levy not only provides safe, decent, affordable homes for our most vulnerable neighbors and hard-working families who are just barely getting by, but it also creates jobs and stimulates the economy by rehabilitating existing housing and developing additional affordable housing.”

Levy funding typically makes up about 25 percent of a project’s total development costs. For every levy dollar spent, about $3 is leveraged from other public and private sources, including the State Housing Trust Fund and private investor tax credits. Thus, the 2009 levy is expected to leverage about $267 million in noncity dollars. Overall, levy-funded developments are expected to generate about $189 million in income received by construction workers and local business owners, and more than $23 million in municipal tax revenue. Further, it will create approximately 3,140 jobs.

Nickels made his levy proposal after receiving recommendations last month from a citizen’s advisory committee co-chaired by former mayors Norm Rice and Charles Royer. His recommendation now goes to the Seattle City Council for review and consideration for placement on the November ballot.

Support for affordable housing began in 1981 with a bond issue to build homes for low-income seniors. Seattle’s support for affordable housing has continued through three renewals of the Seattle Housing Levy in 1986, 1995 and 2002.

Read the proposed Housing Levy Fact Sheet - Acrobat PDF

Read an excerpt of the survey- Acrobat PDF

Read a list of Seattle Voter-approved Housing Programs - Acrobat PDF

View a map of All Rental and Homeownership Units funded by the Seattle Housing Levy, 1981-Present - Acrobat PDF

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