As Part of Her 2020 Proposed Budget, Mayor Durkan Announces $25 Million to Advance New Affordable Housing Across Seattle Using Existing Revenues

Seattle (September 23) – Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan today announced $25 million in new funds available for affordable housing investments for the City of Seattle by using existing revenues from the Real Estate Excise Taxes (REET) II. This step allows the City to take advantage of a change made during the 2019 state legislative session that gives cities the flexibility to use REET II funds for capital investments to build new affordable housing without new taxes.  

“We need to use all of our tools to tackle our region’s housing crisis. I’m grateful to the members of the legislature who worked throughout the session to pass these crucial measures that will provide cities with new tools to create more housing for our residents,” said Mayor Durkan. “I will continue to work with our partners as the city, state and federal levels to find solutions to address our housing crisis.” 

Recognizing the need to address housing affordability, the Washington State legislature passed EHB 1219, to help provide cities and counties with the flexibility to use REET II to invest in solutions that keep people in stable homes and ensure affordable housing in every community throughout the state.  

Building on the $45 million available through the Housing Levy and Mandatory Housing Affordability (MHA), the $25 million will be added to the Office of Housing’s (OH) 2019 Notice of Funding Availability, the annual competitive process that awards funds for affordable housing development in December of each year.  Instead of waiting to use the resources in December 2020, Mayor Durkan is proposing the use the addition of REET II funds plus the Local Option Housing bill in December 2019, which will mean approximately $90 million will be awarded for capital this year to create affordable homes, addressing the critical need for housing for people experiencing homelessness, low-wage workers, and families in Seattle. City funds for capital will be leveraged with county, state and federal resources, magnifying the impact of local funds.  The Local Option Housing bill also provide ongoing operating and maintenance support of new permanent supportive housing units. 

In addition, as part of her Housing Seattle Now initiative, Mayor Durkan is proposing more than $78.2 million in new housing and anti-displacement investments in the 2020 budget, which will be funded as part of her proposal to sell the under-utilized city-owned Mercer Mega Block properties: 

  • $42.2 million to provide affordable housing and address the pressures of displacement through a strategic investment fund;  
  • $15 million to create a revolving Equitable Development Initiative (EDI) acquisition loan fund; 
  • $15 million to increase investments in permanently affordable homeownership; and, 
  • $6 million for a new financing tool to create more affordable accessory dwelling units like backyard cottages and in-law apartments for low- and middle-income homeowners. 

Other Housing Seattle Now actions include: 

  • Her Fare Share plan for a modest tax on Uber and Lyft rides to provide $52 million in affordable housing development over 5 years near high quality transit; 
  • Updated City’s tenant protections to better help residents stay in their homes, in partnership with Councilmember Lisa Herbold; 
  • Development of permanently affordable homeownership opportunities on underutilized surplus city property by transferring a site at Yakima Avenue and transmitting legislation to utilize two additional Seattle City Light sites in Northwest Seattle; and   
  • Transmitted legislation to renew and improve the Multi-Family Tax Exemption program by limiting rent increases so homes can stay affordable.