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The Durkan Digest: Doing More for Housing for Our Neighbors Experiencing Homelessness – Without New Taxes

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I’ve said it often: Seattle needs more tools to build and operate new affordable homes for our neighbors experiencing long-term homelessness.

On Wednesday, we got one of those new tools.

That’s when I gathered with community members and state legislators to sign a new law that gives us the chance to invest at least $50 million in housing for people experiencing homelessness – all without raising taxes. That’s thanks to a new state law that we lobbied for this year in Olympia that lets Seattle retain more of the sales tax we already collect.

Screenshot of Mayor Durkan's twitter, featuring a photo of her signing the Local Option legislation.

This was another key step in my Housing Seattle Now plan to surge Seattle’s investments in housing across our City.

In the last five months alone, we’ve worked with communities to create more housing choices for Seattle – in addition to investing over $700 million with our partners in affordable housing over the last two years.

As I wrote you last week, with our plan for the sale of the City-owned properties along Mercer Street, we will have 175 new affordable apartments on-site at no cost to the City, in a true mixed-income building. Then, with the cash proceeds, we can invest $78 million in more housing options across Seattle.

Mayor Jenny Durkan speaking at the Mercer Properties press conference with sign in the background reading "Nearly $300 million in public benefits."

We also acted to renew and improve our City program that helps provide affordable rent to nearly 4,500 low- and middle-income households in private apartment buildings in neighborhoods across Seattle. 

In June, I signed legislation to fulfill our commitment to creating hundreds of more affordable homes at Fort Lawton in Magnolia while ensuring that our neighborhoods can be vibrant, livable spaces today and for the next generation.

Mayor Durkan holds up the signed legislation creating more affordable housing at Fort Lawton

And in March, I’d stood with community members as I signed a new law to implement the Mandatory Housing Affordability plan in 27 urban villages across Seattle.

Mayor Durkan speaking at the signing of the citywide Mandatory Housing Affordability event

And because we need to do more to make it possible for families to stay in Seattle, I signed an Executive Order to step up our efforts to protect against displacement and gentrification.

These steps are important – but we need to do more. We’ll continue to act urgently to address the housing affordability crisis in Seattle and create a more affordable future.

As always, please continue to write me at, reach out via Twitter and Facebook, and stay up-to-date on the work we’re doing for the people of Seattle on my blog.


Mayor Jenny A. Durkan's Signature

This blog post is an excerpt from Mayor Jenny Durkan’s weekly newsletter. If would like more content like this, and a weekly recap of the exciting things happening in the City of Seattle, you can subscribe here.