The King County Council voted Tuesday to add a 0.1% sales tax expected to raise around $70 million a year to fund housing for people experiencing long-term homelessness.
When proposed by Executive Dow Constantine in September, the plan was hoped to raise more than five times as much funding in a regional approach to addressing the region’s ongoing homelessness crisis. Instead, cities like Issaquah and Bellevue moving quickly to opt out of the plan and implement their own taxes,
“By their vote today, the County Council moves our region one step closer to ending the trauma of homelessness for up to 2,000 individuals and families throughout our region who are living every day without the safety and dignity of a place to call home,” Constantine said following Tuesday’s vote. “With this initiative, we have a unique and extraordinary opportunity to make a real, observable difference in the crisis of homelessness, and I look forward to working throughout King County to make that happen.”
The original proposal included a $400 million bonding package that would have allowed the county to purchase hotels, motels and nursing homes for housing for around 2,000 people. It’s not clear how much of that goal the current taxing plan will be able to meet.
The county plan was formed after the state legislature earlier this year gave local governments the option to adopt a 1/10th of 1% sales tax increase if the funding was designated for affordable housing.
Across state and local authorities, sales tax in Seattle is currently 10.1%.
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