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Mayor Durkan Applauds City Council Committee Vote to Advance Bill to Use New State Resources to Invest $50 Million in Permanent Supportive Housing for People Experiencing Homelessness

Seattle Poised to Take Advantage of New State Law That Allows Cities to Retain More Sales Tax to Fund Affordable Housing Development and Operations; City of Seattle and Mayor Durkan Had Advocated for New State Law in Olympia This Legislative Session 

Seattle (August 1, 2019) – Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan issued the following statement today applauding Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, Chair of the Housing, Health, Energy & Workers’ Rights Committee, and its members for advancing a bill to provide at least $50 million in new resources to build and support housing for people experiencing homelessness in Seattle without new taxes.   

The legislation announced by Mayor Durkan and Councilmember Mosqueda on July 24, is a key initial step in Mayor Durkan’s “Housing Seattle Now” initiative, a plan for a surge of City investments in housing for low- and middle-income families in addition to ongoing housing investments made by the Seattle Housing Levy and Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA). 

Seattle currently has 1,900 permanent supportive housing units.   

“In this past legislative session, the City of Seattle’s top priority was to create new tools to build and operate more affordable housing. This critical local option bond bill gives the City the ability to retain more sales tax revenues and new bonding capacity to build and operate new affordable homes for people experiencing homelessness in Seattle,” said Mayor Durkan. “Now, we have the chance to invest more than $50 million to build and support new homes for our neighbors experiencing homelessness. I applaud the City Council’s quick initial action and look forward to the full Council voting to make Seattle among the first cities in the state to seize this opportunity to investment more in housing for our neighbors living unsheltered.” 

The new investment of at least $50 million in housing for people experiencing homelessness does not require raising taxes. Instead, it allows the City to retain its sales tax revenue for affordable housing. Under the plan, the City of Seattle will be the first city in Washington State to begin to implement the new state law. Passed this legislative session, HB 1406 was a top priority for the City of Seattle. Mayor Durkan, Councilmember Mosqueda and the City of Seattle lobbied for and the Legislature passed House Bill 1406. The state law gives local jurisdictions flexibility to use the sales tax funds for capital dollars to build new housing, operations and maintenance for supportive housing, or a combination of capital and operations. 

“Once again Seattle is leading the way with an innovate solution to address our biggest crisis – our affordable housing shortage. We know permanent supportive housing is one of the best ways to help our homeless neighbors, with its wraparound services, medical care and emphasis on social services for those who are living with disabilities,” said Councilmember Mosqueda, Position 8, Citywide. “This legislation is the exact type of creative thinking we need to find new funding that allows us to address our housing shortage.” 

In the coming months, Mayor Durkan will continue to work the Council to ensure that City has the appropriate resources to provide both capital investments for new permanent supportive housing as well as sufficient funding to operate new supportive units.   

If passed by City Council this fall, new funds could be available by the beginning of 2020.