The Seattle City Council Wednesday finalized its proposed changes to the city’s 2017-2018 budget including District 1 representative Lisa Herbold’s $29 million plan to build hundreds of units of affordable housing through a bond and shuffling of funds from the Seattle Department of Transportation and the Seattle Police Department’s North Precinct project.
“We are in a homelessness state of emergency,” Herbold said in a statement on Wednesday’s approval. “We need to build today to meet the need. Building today is less expensive than building at future costs, and these funds will continue to benefit the community for the entire period of the bond payment under their 50+ year regulatory agreement. When the City issues bonds to finance capital needs we gain the ability to deliver projects faster and enjoy their benefits sooner.”
The Council will vote on adopting the proposals Monday.
The plan to raise $29 million in additional affordable housing funding was approved by the Council in a 7-2 vote with the frequent voting bloc of at large member Tim Burgess and District 5 rep Debora Juarez coming out against the plan.
The plan would raise $29 million in 2017 through bonds that would be paid off over 30 years. The money would be put to use creating hundreds of units of affordable housing though specifics of how the money will be spent are to be determined.
“We will work with the Office of Housing to evaluate and develop options for funding, either proposing utilization of the entire $29 million in bond funding at one time for a specific project or program, or using funding over time for several projects or programs,” Herbold said.
Before the vote on Herbold’s bill, Kshama Sawant’s proposal that would have gutted the $160 million North Precinct project and put the funding toward housing was rejected by the Council.
Following the votes, Sawant credited the “Build 1,000 Homes Coalition” and the People’s Budget effort for the plan’s approval:
Together, our movement has won $29 million for affordable housing. We didn’t get everything that we wanted today, but this is a significant step forward for the People’s Budget movement. It was only won because our remarkable and diverse coalition of over 75 organizations came together to demand Council invest in housing now. I want to thank everyone who joined, and the many activists who dedicated hour after hour to wresting this victory from the political establishment.
Herbold said the money may be coming at a much needed time.
“There is legitimate cause for concern that some elements of HALA plan rely on federal resources that may now be at risk,” she said. “As Rachel Myers, Executive Director of the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance said, ‘The combination of Seattle’s housing needs and the uphill struggle to find alternate resources make local investments in affordable housing more critical than ever.’”