ELECTION 2023: First results for Seattle ‘social housing’ Initiative 135

Here’s the first round of results for tonight’s one-issue special election:

Yes – 52.82% – 53,824
No – 47.18% – 48,085

The ballots counted tonight represent just over 21 percent of Seattle voters; just under 26 percent have been received so far. The initiative seeks to create a Public Development Authority to build what’s called “social housing.” Where, how much, and how it would be financed are all to be worked out. The next round of results will be announced Wednesday afternoon.

45 Replies to "ELECTION 2023: First results for Seattle 'social housing' Initiative 135"

  • Rhonda February 15, 2023 (12:07 am)

    The following is why we voted no in our household: “Where, how much, and how it would be financed are all to be worked out”

    • Canton February 15, 2023 (12:26 am)

      We can vote no for decades, it all still passes. When there are major factions: city employees, non profit interests, unions, teacher’s unions( not individual teachers), and the like we don’t get representative opinions.

      • Don't UwU February 15, 2023 (1:45 am)

        It’s actually very representative, it just isn’t what you wanted because you hate the poor

        • Pilar February 15, 2023 (12:26 pm)

          I’m a renter (definitely not rich!) and I voted no. So there goes your theory…

        • M February 15, 2023 (3:32 pm)

          It’s pretty judgy to say people “hate the poor” simply for voting no on this.  I’ve voted yes on SO MANY initiatives to support housing and the homeless.  I donate directly to charities that are on the frontlines of the efforts as well.  Hell, I started out life in a trailer home.  I don’t hate the poor.  It’s ok to be thoughtful about what you vote for.   I just felt this would take money AWAY from the existing services, make their lives harder, AND adds unnecessary overhead and bureaucracy (which just dilutes the funding).  You shouldn’t have to blindly vote yes in order to be considered a good person.  FFS. 

      • Reed February 15, 2023 (6:53 am)

        Or maybe you conservatives are just heavily outnumbered by liberals who want to see housing first policies implemented? It has nothing to do with public sector “factions.” Get a grip.

      • Mr J February 15, 2023 (8:12 am)

        Conspiracy theory much? It’s almost like the people you mentioned want to help people and not let them die on the streets I know that’s a new concept to Libertarians. I’m none of those people and I voted yes. The city is bigger than your front door. Don’t like it, don’t live here. 

      • DC February 15, 2023 (8:12 am)

        All the ‘factions’ you mentioned are members of this community and deserve representation. Not to mention many who don’t fit your stereotype (me being one of them) also voted ‘Yes’. Sorry, democracy doesn’t mean only your opinion counts as representative. 

      • Ivan Weiss February 15, 2023 (9:27 am)

        Teachers’ unions ARE, in fact, individual teachers, who act in concert. To suggest that unions are “third parties” that are not responsive to the will of their memberships is to repeat the right-wing “big lie” that reactionary forces have been spewing since the 19th Century. If Seattle Public Schools teachers have voted for social housing, it is so they can continue to afford to live in Seattle in a time of rising rents and home prices. In other words, if they have voted for this, they have voted in their economic self-interest, just as “captains of industry” are praised for doing.

      • Jort February 15, 2023 (10:46 am)

        Once again we see that conservatives, even though they are a minority in population, demand literally equal representation. They’re used to gaming the media into thinking that literally every political viewpoint must have a conservative viewpoint weighted equally, both intellectually and in prominence. They look at Seattle, a fundamentally liberal city and region, as being “unfair” to them, since they don’t get to call the shots. The reason, actually, that they don’t get to call the shots is because their aren’t actually many people with retrograde, reactionary conservative viewpoints. They’re a tiny minority. Blaming your repeated blowout losses on “unions” or “factions” or whatever is a weird way of being unwilling to recognize that conservative options are not going to be supported in Seattle now or any time in the near and not-so-near future.  Lord knows the comments sections are filled to the brim with anti-taxation, anti-liberal viewpoints. Too bad comment sections don’t represent actual voters. Don’t like the results of elections? Work harder to change people’s minds or change your own. But, sure, “factions.” Whatever. Keep commenting.

        • Alf February 15, 2023 (1:45 pm)

          I can’t believe I am saying this but I agree with Jort this ( and I believe the very first time and most likely the last) time is incumbent on those running for office or submitting proposals to set forth arguments that will convince the population to vote accordingly.putting people down who don’t agree with us is hardly a smart move.  Convince folks with your argument that you have the best ideasand then VOTE, if you don’t participate in my eyes you have limited credibility to complain what ever side your position falls on

        • Seattlite February 15, 2023 (2:00 pm)

          “…conservative options are not going to be supported in Seattle now or any time in the near and not-so-near future.”  A very telling comment that gives insight into why Seattle has become an unlivable city with high crime and police officer shortage.  The 100% lack of debate on Seattle’s growing problems is an egregious shortcoming for a major city like Seattle and affects ALL of Seattle’s voters.  And, that is why Seattle never ever gets its problems resolved because the same old policies actually create the problems.

          • WS Res February 16, 2023 (8:36 am)

            “an unlivable city” – and yet, you live here! As do I. And as do the many people who voted for this.  Curious.I’m glad to see people commenting about why they voted “yes,” to counteract the fantasy that there’s some “silent majority” that would prefer some other direction, e.g. “lock ’em all up and throw away the key,” “let the cops shoot first and ask questions later,” “force the homeless into treatment or jail,” etc. etc.  You’re not the majority here and perhaps it would help if you’d actually make an effort to understand another perspective.

          • Jort February 16, 2023 (1:10 pm)

            “unlivable city” this city holds hundreds of thousands of people who mostly go about enjoying their otherwise peaceful and unremarkable lives. People who see problems but also good things, people who are frustrated but also optimistic, people who are weary but caring. The “Seattle is Dying” histrionic screeching for 10 years now has done absolutely nothing to drive voters towards conservative, “stick instead of carrot” approaches. Maybe that’s because they look out their windows and don’t see a city “DeSTrOyEdDD!!!”  as so many shrilly scream in comments sections, but instead a complex world with nuance. The people finding success in this city are finding it by leaning into that very nuance, rather than responding to the screeching about death and destruction. Consider that as a starting point instead of calling your neighbors idiots and morons and maybe people will start listening.  Or, of course, keep commenting.

    • Bob February 15, 2023 (7:44 am)

      They provide possible funding mechanisms.  The state doesn’t allow them to put funding and organization in the same bill.  Part of the funding will come from the folks paying full price.  Other countries have had success with this model.

    • Mr J February 15, 2023 (8:20 am)

      I feel the same way about Military spending it’s sinking us as a country further into debt. 

    • North Admiral February 15, 2023 (9:01 am)

      Has anything that raises property taxes ever not passed ?

      • WS Res February 15, 2023 (9:58 am)

        Good news! This doesn’t raise property taxes!  

        • Quiz February 15, 2023 (10:44 am)

          FIFY – “This does not raise property taxes – YET.”

    • John February 15, 2023 (6:27 pm)

      Rhonda, if a funding mechanism was put into the initiative, it would’ve been struck down in court because state law requires that ballot initiatives cover only one single issue at a time, housing in this case. Adding a funding mechanism introduces the issue of taxes and it would be challenged on those grounds. It was intentionally left out to avoid this. There are several funding mechanisms available even if not specified in the initiative. There will likely be a progressive tax proposed, and I also like the idea of the public housing authority issuing savings bonds.

  • anonyme February 15, 2023 (6:17 am)

    I’m with Rhonda.  This initiative is nothing more than a vote to sink millions more dollars into yet another level of bureaucracy, on top of all the other levels that have failed to address the issue of affordable housing.  If, and when, a plan actually evolves from this, it will once again be developers who profit.  Unbelievable.

    • DC February 15, 2023 (1:43 pm)

      The whole point of this is that it *doesn’t* involve developers! All current programs rely on grants/subsidies paid to landlords, developers and non-profits. This initiative allows the city to own and build land directly, without involving third parties. Yet to be seen if it is done effectively, but there is potential to *save* tax payer money here.

      • Peter February 15, 2023 (2:00 pm)

        Sure, they’re going to build housing without developers … how? Is the board overseeing this going to personally build housing? Volunteer labor and donated materials? Sorry, but all housing, even subsidized housing, even low income housing, is ultimately built by developers. 

        • Anything is possible February 15, 2023 (2:59 pm)

          Housing is funded and overseen by developers, not built by them. They ultimately work with architects, engineers, and constructors (AEC) to get the building built and treat housing as a commodity not a necessary component of life.  The investment risk that developers take on, along with profit motive, determine rent prices, build quality, ect, and pass those decisions on to us.Why can’t the city oversee development and work with the AEC industry and cut out the profit driven middle man? The city already has precedent, they oversee the construction of roads and other infrastructure projects that are sent out to bid and constructed with the city acting as the owner (developer). Why can’t we do the same thing with housing? It is, also a form of infrastructure.The city acting as the owner also has the benefit of NOT seeking the highest possible rent price year over year, and adding competition to what is currently a developer only space is better for the consumer and will ultimately force developers create a better product which is a win, win, win.I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in meeting with developers where decisions are based solely on spreadsheets and hedging capital investments with what the market will return, creating situations where only high end luxury apartments get built because its the safest bet to get a return on the investment.-Source, working in the architectural profession.

  • flimflam February 15, 2023 (8:54 am)

    have there been any levies that HAVEN’T passed in the last 10 years?

    • Scarlett February 16, 2023 (8:20 am)

      This is NOT a levy. 

  • Nicki February 15, 2023 (9:28 am)

    Nonprofit interests? What? Like the people who work for nonprofits? I’m one of them and the thing is, put simply, housing for anyone that doesn’t fit the default of cis, white, and Christian and has enough money to own a house….. Is not prioritized in Seattle. I’m making it work with the family I have but even then we struggle. 

    • anonyme February 15, 2023 (11:47 am)

      Hey, you left out female, elderly, and blue-collar in your baloney sandwich of stereotypes.  It might shock you to discover that there are lots of low-income homeowners who are struggling to keep up while paying for bloated bureaucracies that help no one.  And yes, there are plenty of non-profits latched onto that teat as well.

  • WSB February 15, 2023 (9:28 am)

    Again, this was not a levy and does not include any funding beyond obliging the city to fund “startup” expenses (there is no dollar amount in the text of the initiative but the Times estimates that at $750,000). The newly created entity will be seeking funding from public and private sources, but the measure itself does not set up a levy, bonds, tax, or anything else direct for starters – TR

  • B February 15, 2023 (11:15 am)

    I would feel much better about this if it were part of a comprehensive plan to fix the root causes of homelessness instead of just a plan to warehouse people.  How about a plan that includes involuntary commitment and treatment for the mentally ill and/or the drug-addicted who are not able to make decisions in their own best interests.  How about job training services for those who have no marketable skills.  How about work programs for those who are willing and able to work.  In my opinion warehousing the homeless instead of addressing the root causes will only increase the problem.

    • CAM February 16, 2023 (12:37 am)

      1. Building housing and allowing people to have homes is not “warehousing.” Institutionalizing people on the other hand would fit that definition (putting something away in storage to be out of sight).

      2. There are already legal, effective, and workable methods for involuntary treatment of people with mental illness and/or substance use problems. You cannot make those provisions more harsh without violating people’s civil rights which the Supreme Court of the United States of America will not allow you to do. 

      3. People who do not have stable housing and don’t know where they can have a shower in the morning or where their next meals are coming from or are working to maintain basic safety and security for the vast majority of hours of the day are hardly able to maintain their focus and energy on job or skills training programs (of which there are many available and in fact many people experiencing homelessness don’t require any job or skills training to be able to perform the duties of a job).

      4. Suggesting that an individual must comply with a work program before they can be afforded the basic security and safety benefits offered by housing misses the point of what makes it hard to sustain regular participation in the workforce as a person without stable housing. 

  • Neighbor February 15, 2023 (11:21 am)

    Can we just increase property tax on rentals that aren’t “affordable”?  Why do we subsidize rent-seeking landlords and then let them build and operate the wrong kind of housing?  Either contribute to society by providing the needed housing or sell the place so prices go down.  Nobody should be entitled to a second home until everyone has a primary home.

    • Rhonda February 15, 2023 (3:36 pm)

      Uh, “entitled to a second home”? We purchased our second home through decades of hard labor and meticulous saving. BTW, if you increase taxes on rentals that aren’t “affordable”, those taxes will be paid via the tenants paying increased rents. If a unit is occupied by a paying tenant, it’s obviously affordable.

      • Derek February 16, 2023 (7:17 am)

        Decades of way better interest rates and when houses were obscenely cheap*** Boomers left nothing for their kids and then whine like heck to protect inherited old money assets.  Landlords should have to pay higher taxes for the privilege alone.

        • Rhonda February 16, 2023 (2:46 pm)

          Your comment is a perfect example of why we have (and need) laws to protect senior citizens…..those “Boomers” who paid off their 30-year mortgages and who you love to loathe.

  • Ex-Westwood Resident February 15, 2023 (3:25 pm)

    How much is enough to give to the “homeless” issue???

    $1, 10, 100 million a year???

    How about $1 BILLION a year???

    How many of you remember Ron Sim’s “Plan to End Homelessness” that would cost $1 Billion and end it in 10 years???

    That was in 2006.Now they are wanting $10 Billion to end it 5 years?!?!?!

    The misnomer is that we have a “homeless” issue. What we have is an ADDICTION issue and a mental health issue. The addiction issue can be addressed through rehab and/or arrest and conviction of selling/possession/using ANY amount of ILLEGAL drugs. There are rehab programs in prisons that are VERY successful.

    The mental health issue is going to take a bit more time and fight. To start with the “Involuntary Commitment Laws” need to be changed and restored to something closer to what they were in the early 80’s. Right now, if someone wants to leave a treatment center (either mental or drug) there is VERY little that can be done to stop them.

    Just ask Adam Lanza’s mom…oh that’s right, you can’t. He found out about her TWO-year attempt to get him committed to a mental hospital. Drove from NJ to confront her. Killed her. Stole her guns. Drove to Newtown Elementary School and killed 26 people.

     How about we conduct a COMPLETE audit of ALL so-called “Homeless Advocacy” groups, like SHARE/WHEEL, LIHI…etc., to see just exactly where the money they have received from City, County, State, Federal and Private contributions is getting spent on? Some reports have stated that it is MORE than $1 BILLION per year.

    Take a look at the groups that ARE successful in helping those in need and mirror what they do?

    Because whatever, and whoever, the local, county, state governments are giving the tax money to, are an UTTER and COMPLETE FAILURE in providing that aid!

    • CAM February 16, 2023 (3:55 pm)

      Just to clarify for facts, nothing said here about Adam Lanza is based on verifiable facts or sources. He did not live in New Jersey. He was evaluated by mental health professionals on many occasions. His mother was not seeking to have him removed from her home, where he was living. 

  • Wester Westest February 15, 2023 (4:10 pm)

    I know the major funding is supposed to come from bonds against future rents but I would love to see an increase in property taxes to get this rolling. Washington’s property taxes are too low.

  • TEU February 15, 2023 (4:19 pm)

    Serious question by low-information neighbor. Why can’t SHA administer this?

    • Erithan February 17, 2023 (1:43 pm)

      I wouldn’t personally trust SHA they are corrupt to large extent. The biggest example is I waited 10 years for a chance at affordable housing, having to check in every month to keep my spot. When one finally opened up, they rushed me through the process then suddenly claimed I owed them money. Which I did not, and anything related was a mistake they made from a brief period living with my dad there that we were told was resolved years ago. They sent it to a debt collector whom I was told to call, and after I called they agreed SHA were in the wrong (and should never had sent it to them) and canceled it, but by then I lost my housing…. Because SHA lied about things being resolved and tried to force collection that wasn’t owed. (I still have the proof of this.) 10 years….. down the drain entirely….

  • TJ February 15, 2023 (4:42 pm)

    What exactly is “wrong kind of housing”? If somebody is renting it then that is capitalism working, no matter the price. So they are providing “needed housing “. Oh, and another right in America is people having the ability to own multiple properties,no matter them being called entitled. The mindset in Seattle has become so perplexing. A role of government was never to provide housing. Ever. And thinking it will do it is laughable. People don’t have a right to live wherever they want, and why is it on other people to help provide it. You want cheaper housing then it needs to be built outside of Seattle where it will be cheaper. Which also speaks to what is cheaper housing? It will never be half of what the market rate is now. The bar is set. Builders won’t build knowing they will get even two thirds of what they are now.

    • Scarlett February 15, 2023 (10:14 pm)

      “A role of government was never to provide housing. Ever.”
      Well, you might want to go back in time and tell legislators to vote no on the U.S. Housing Act of 1937 which remedied the deficit of decent affordable housing at the time.   It gave us the SHA which has provided housing for thousands since it’s inception.  It provided housing for the thousands who flooded Seattle coming for jobs, many at Boeing, by the way.  It’s the same banal, small-minded hue and cry was heard when Bernstein of the newly created SHA drew his plans for the new Yesler Terrace.  Crack a history book when you’re a taking a rest from reciting vapid free market fables.  

      • CAM February 16, 2023 (12:41 am)

        TJ would almost certainly tell you that he has analyzed the New Deal and found it to be deficient. 

    • WestSeattleBadTakes February 16, 2023 (4:04 pm)

      A role of government was never to provide housing.

      Ah yes, society and government are immutable. I forgot.

  • Derek February 16, 2023 (7:15 am)

    Imagine if we could cut into the billions spent on military and stupid Seahawk flyovers and use that for cheap housing…. society is so deeply stupid sometimes.

Sorry, comment time is over.