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With Seattle U Homeless Rights Advocacy Project roots, Third Door Coalition emerges as alternative to ‘Tax Amazon’

A coalition to address homelessness in the Seattle region announced a proposal Tuesday to build 6,500 units of permanent supportive housing in King County in a five-year, $1.6 billion effort.

The Third Door Coalition was founded in 2018 “with focused conversations at Seattle University” and includes a group representing the restaurant and hotel industries, academics, and homelessness service providers and advocates including Chad Mackay of Fire & Vine HospitalityProfessor Sara Rankin of Seattle University School of LawDaniel Malone of the Downtown Emergency Service Center, and Paul Lambros of Plymouth Housing.

“The plan calls for a public-private partnership to fund an estimated capital cost of $1.6 billion over the next five years,” a Seattle City Council announcement on the launch of the effort reads. “The Coalition also identifies ways to drive down the currently high costs of building permanent supportive housing.” First-year council member Andrew Lewis says he will announce “specific policies to advance the goals of the Third Door Coalition’s recommendations” in coming weeks.

The coalition was born out of Seattle U’s Homeless Rights Advocacy Project and created to prioritize “Housing First” approaches “focused on permanent supportive housing.” The advocacy project “engages Seattle University School of Law students in research and analysis around solutions to homelessness.”

The new Third Door proposal also includes opportunities for Seattle and other cities to ease creation of more affordable “permanent supportive housing” by reducing permit fees and removing requirements like bicycle parking.

The plan could call for a new tax on Seattle and county businesses, the Seattle Times reports:

The proposal, which proponents describe as a loose framework, describes the state providing a fifth of the funding, King County 30 percent, and the county’s cities providing 10 percent of the funding, with the remaining 40 percent coming from “business leaders.” That could come in the form of donations, or possibly from a “tax revenue piece,” Mackay said, not ruling out some version of a tax on businesses.

That would put the effort at odds with Central Seattle’s city council representative Kshama Sawant who is challenging Mayor Jenny Durkan and council president Lorena Gonzalez by continuing to pursue a tax on the city’s largest businesses to pay for new housing as well as a COVID-19 financial relief program. Sawant and the Tax Amazon group, meanwhile, are also working toward a possible ballot measure this November.

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9 thoughts on “With Seattle U Homeless Rights Advocacy Project roots, Third Door Coalition emerges as alternative to ‘Tax Amazon’

    • Maybe it’s about making every available square foot for housing? I don’t think people in a wet shelter will need car parking…but maybe for all the shiny new bikes you have a point.

      • Bike parking is just one of many regulatory cost that drive up total project costs. You are right, by itself, it does not add a significant cost when considering total project cost. Additionally, Permanent Supportive Housing is designed for individuals experiencing sustained homeless who have a qualifying disability. Disabilities come in many forms but this criteria for residents definitely reduces the need to substantial bike parking.

  1. I’m shocked…SHOCKED…to learn that activists, business and government can work together to solve this crisis. I’ve been listening to our esteemed Councilmember in D3 and was utterly convinced that there are demons lurking behond every “Open for business” sign.

    This is a heartening sign that progress might be made. It has shades of the original United Way of King County “End homelessness” program years and years ago, but it’s the only way to have any success here, any sense of community buy-in on the solution. Good luck to them.

    • Come on. These “public private partnerships” never go anywhere.

      This is an unfunded vague proposal that even if it were successful would only raise $1.6 billion over 5 years for the entire county.

      That’s less than the 1.3% payroll tax would raise for just Seattle, and that’s an actual plan with an actual funding source.

      This has about as much chance of happening as Trump’s “infrastructure plan,” which was also a public private partnership… It’s just a distraction from actual solutions.

  2. State, County, City, and private funds all joining together to tackle a problem as persistent and important as chronic homelessness is a “it’s us” solution vs CM Sawant’s “us vs. them” solution. Thanks to all the leaders that have been championing this. Third Door is a not a newcomer to this space but has been leading all along. Thanks to CM Lewis to seeing a collaborative solution as healthy for a shared society. We are going to need much more of this to come out of this crisis whole.

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