Our area’s King County Councilmember Joe McDermott is the main sponsor of a one-tenth-of-one-percent sales-tax increase that the council approved today, first proposed in County Executive Dow Constantine‘s 2021-2022 budget plan. A council news release explains what it’s meant to pay for: “The legislation will provide permanent, supportive housing for those deemed ‘chronically homeless’ – people who reside in a place not meant for human habitation for at least a year, and with serious physical or behavioral health issues.” (That’s the type of housing provided in West Seattle by two nonprofits, Transitional Resources, with several buildings in the Luna Park area plus one under construction, and DESC, with Cottage Grove Commons in Delridge.)
The tax increase will not go to a public vote; the state Legislature voted earlier this year to allow local governments to increase sales taxes this way for affordable-housing. However, as The Seattle Times‘ report notes, cities have the option to levy their own 0.1% increase instead, and several King County cities have opted to do that, so they will have more of a say in how the housing dollars are spent. The council releass says that “King County plans to bond against future tax revenues and use the funds to buy existing hotels, motels and nursing homes around the county and convert them into affordable, supportive housing for people who have struggled to access and maintain housing.” The tax increase would take effect next January 1st; you can read the legislation starting on page 41 of today’s County Council meeting packet.