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In Seattle’s spending plan for new tax on big businesses, a small victory for housing in the Central District

Sawant had the backing of Black faith leaders in the call for new money for housing dedicated to addressing historical wrongs in the Central District (Image: Low Income Housing Institute)

On a big day for the Seattle City Council, Kshama Sawant is celebrating a small victory for housing in the Central District.

As part of a busy morning of sorting out how best to spend the some $200 million a year expected to be generated by the city’s newly approved tax on big businesses, the council’s budget committee approved Sawan’ts amendment calling for at least $18 million year in the new tax spending plan to fund the construction of new affordable housing in the Central District.

“Thanks to our powerful community movement, $18 million will be set aside annually beginning in 2022, to build affordable housing in the Central District for Black working-class and poor families,” Sawant said Thursday in a press release on the approval. “It represents a minimum floor of investment, not a ceiling, because other housing funds in the Amazon tax “spending plan” resolution, the Housing Levy, and other sources also can and should be accessed for affordable housing development in the neighborhood.”

Sawant’s win represents a compromise victory. The socialist city council member had originally called for a $50 million dedicated fund for the area with the backing of Seattle Black clergy and faith leaders (PDF):

We call for City Council to enact a progressive tax on big business to fund housing and services, including construction of at least 1,000 homes in the Central Area to bring back households that have been displaced over the years by racist gentrification.

The coalition said the dedicated funding “would begin to undo racist gentrification policies that private developers and the city have been responsible for creating and perpetuating over the years.”

The Central District funding is joined by amendments earmarking millions for new “tiny home” villages in the city and further relief for small businesses pummeled by the COVID-19 crisis.

The full JumpStart tax funding resolution including the dedicated Central District housing funding now goes to the full City Council for a final vote on Monday.

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7 thoughts on “In Seattle’s spending plan for new tax on big businesses, a small victory for housing in the Central District

    • Think about it Jack….If all the housing is too expensive more and more folks will end up on the streets. With more affordable housing options there will be one more safety net to keep working folks from going to the streets which would then continue to increase the homeless population.

  1. I think these programs really walk the line of housing discrimination. Like it or not, builfing housing for just one race of people, especially with public funds, is not easy to do without running afoul of housing discrimination laws.

    • Right, some how doing what’s good for everyone has become “ignorance” these days, and selfishness and ego based power and money are “right”. Disgusting times.

    • Our current housing policy is already discriminating, not just discriminating, but racist.

      Love the narrow mindedness of Kshama Sawant ‘TAX AMAZON’ mask. How about ‘POLICY REFORM’ or ‘EQUITY NOW’ The picture is much bigger than taxing one giant corporation that needs to be taxed (I agree) but you can’t just tax without a plan to do it. Our City Council has failed our city, we need better leadership, we should all be pissed off at the way the ‘leadership’ has destroyed our city.

    • I can understand that, but given the history of where black people have been allowed to live in Seattle and the current situation of gentrification, I think it’s fair to invest into the black community so that the families can stay nearby.

      Plus, you don’t have to be black to live in the affordable housing. By law, it is first come first serve. The reason that it is marketed as a black community is just that — they promote the announcement of apartment openings in places where black people will be more likely to find that info.

      • The disconnect is that if something bad happens to you, then the genuine response is for it not to wish it to not happen to anyone. So at what point does that become the value?

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