Backers of I-135 to create a public Social Housing Developer at Seattle City Hall celebrated victory Wednesday as the latest tally of votes from February’s special election showed the initiative firmly passing with the city’s voters
With just under 25% counted of an expected 33% turnout, I-135’s 54% approval is now solid enough to celebrate.
“ITS OFFICIAL! Social Housing is coming to Seattle!,” the House Our Neighbors group posted Wednesday. “The power of a people’s movement, right there!”
The initiative calls on city leaders to fund the shaping of a new Seattle Social Housing Developer to acquire and take over management of existing properties for affordable housing while also setting the groundwork for philanthropy and grants to create new renter-governed housing in the city.
I-135 backers including the House Our Neighbors coalition led by Real Change say the initiative will create a city-run, government-empowered, renter-powered entity to help keep buildings affordable and, eventually, build more new affordable housing.
Starting the authority will be funded by the city budget and cost around $750,000 with ongoing funding to be determined from local and state sources. It will now be up to Mayor Bruce Harrell and the Seattle City Council to shepherd the formation of the new entity. CHS reported here on how the candidates lining up to run for the District 3 seat on the council supported the initiative and its components.
Seattle voters, meanwhile, will have another big decision in April as the rest of the county joins in on the vote on a $1.25 billion behavioral health levy to create a new “regional network” of emergency mental health care centers across King County.
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Since no funding was identified, they will pin it on a property tax levy that…..drives up the cost of real estate….. making apartments more expensive. Sheesh!
That is EXACTLY the problem with this initiative. It’s discouraging to see Seattle voters not look more critically at what they are backing, and more-so to see activists proposing such short sited ‘solutions’ in the first place.
It’s funny how the blog trolls love to insinuate that Seattle voters are idiots that never look past the check box on the voter ballot.
This isn’t Texas. We know what we’re voting for and we aren’t voting only in our self-interest.
I recommend you read the charter documents for other public development authorities in Seattle (e.g., Pike Place Development Authority, Seattle Housing Authority). These Independent Development Corporations have been voted into being and chartered by the city of Seattle to follow the mission and rules of their charter. One of the main funding mechanisms for all of these public development authorities is the ability to utilize bonds at a lower rate. I-135 model is closer to the Pike Place model in that it relies more on the rent of tenants, the reason for this is that the federal housing money that SHA and most other low income housing developers use is tied to rules that cap income levels and creates added barriers to development as well as concentrating poverty. Also, I-135 will create a board that is much more representative of those who utilize this type of housing than SHA, as well as creating representative boards to manage each building. There have been many times throughout Seattle history when voters have chosen to back public development authorities with specific missions to counter private market forces, in 2023 voters have decided that Seattle should have a social housing alternative to the existing model 🤷🏻♂️ Without the Pike Place Development Authority, there’s a good chance that space would no longer exist, but today it continues to be a thriving Seattle icon and full of local small businesses. While most of downtown has remained shuttered since the pandemic, Pike Place has came back thriving and continuing to invest, because it’s mission is to maintain the market as a public good for Seattle and its residents. In a similar manner, a social housing development authority would do something similar, but instead of giving small businesses a place to operate in the city, it would give low and middle income people a place to live in the city.