ELECTION 2023: Mayor proposes billion-dollar renewal/expansion of Seattle Housing Levy

So far this year, you’ll be voting on a $1.25 billion behavioral-health levy in April and the half-billion-dollar renewal of the Veterans, Seniors, Human Services Levy in August. Those are both countywide proposals. Now, one from the city – Mayor Bruce Harrell has gone public with his $970 million proposal to renew/expand the Seattle Housing Levy, aiming for the November ballot. The city has had a housing levy since 1986; the one that’s expiring now was passed in 2016 and was for $290 million, less than a third the size of the new plan. From the mayor’s office, here’s how this version would break out:

Rental Housing Production & Preservation: $707 million

Creates and preserves affordable rental housing, including Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH), for seniors, people exiting homelessness, working families with children, people with disabilities, and other low-income households.

Operating, Maintenance, and Services (OMS): $122 million

Ensures safe, sustainable operations at in Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) and creates a new wage stabilization fund for workers in PSH buildings.

Homeownership: $51 million

Creates new permanently affordable for-sale homes, provides down-payment assistance for low-income homebuyers, and stabilizes low-income homeowners through emergency home repair grants and foreclosure prevention assistance.

Prevention & Housing Stabilization: $30 million

Provides short-term rent assistance and housing stability services to help low-income households avoid eviction or homelessness.

Program Administration: $60 million

Ensures continuous and effective administration of all Housing Levy-funded programs by covering costs associated with project selection and contracting, development underwriting, construction monitoring, project performance and compliance, fiscal management, program policies and reporting.

Tax rate: $0.45/$1,000 assessed value

Cost to median Seattle homeowners: $383/year or $31.92/month (based on assessed value of $855,136)

The City Council will review the levy proposal in a series of meetings before deciding whether to put it on the November ballot.

66 Replies to "ELECTION 2023: Mayor proposes billion-dollar renewal/expansion of Seattle Housing Levy"

  • flimflam March 30, 2023 (5:55 pm)

    These levies never go away…yes I realize they technically expire but there’s always a huge replacement that seems to pass every single time.

    • Morgan March 31, 2023 (8:55 am)

      The lack of govt imagination for ways to fund urban growth is directly related to being rare state to not have an income tax.I’m sick of levees but also know we underfund a lot of these things.Need a tool to better spread costs in this state.

    • Derek March 31, 2023 (9:01 am)

      Then get rid of our stupid tax structure. Income tax and real cap gain tax fixes this so much. Plus lower sales taxes and property taxes. 

      • Bronson March 31, 2023 (10:49 am)

        The naivety is your response is something. You really think that even if an income tax is implemented that the government will lower the other two. Bless your heart.Taxes, while necessary, should not be the first and most frequently utilized tool to address socio-economic issues. Creating and preserving affordable housing should be incentivized through tax credits, zoning changes, permitting changes, etc. A tripling of the levy is ridiculous. 

      • StuckInWestSeattle March 31, 2023 (6:03 pm)

        There are studies that show every state that implemented an income tax had the standard of living go down. I always think what fool wants an income tax when we are already being taxed to death?

  • Flo B March 30, 2023 (5:56 pm)

    Will this money be spent wisely? Will the city do with it as they promise? Should we hold our breath??

  • Michael Waldo March 30, 2023 (6:13 pm)

    Arg! Come on. King country whats to raise property taxes, settle whats to raise taxes. Retired people on a fixed income are being clobbered again. We are talking about getting out of Seattle.  It is getting to expensive to live in the city I grew up in.

    • Scarlett March 31, 2023 (11:29 am)

      If you meet income thresholds, seniors are eligible for a reduction of property taxes.  

  • Mike March 30, 2023 (6:30 pm)

    wasted money they had already, no.

  • Alex March 30, 2023 (6:45 pm)

    Between the three of them, that is about $1,000 a year for the average homeowner and which would presumably be passed to renters as well.

  • Anne March 30, 2023 (7:03 pm)


  • KB March 30, 2023 (7:17 pm)

    Is there somewhere online  the city has detailed the results of the last housing levy? What was built? How many have been housed? I’d like to know this money was well spent before I spend more. 

  • WS March 30, 2023 (8:24 pm)

    Here’s a sobering article of where money didn’t go, from the millions raised by a current council member: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/homeless/andrew-lewis-announced-a-fundraising-plan-to-double-seattles-tiny-houses-so-where-are-they/“As for Lewis’ plan, he said the $2.5 million he fundraised has been released back to funders to do with as they please.”

    This money isn’t from a housing levy, but it’s still pretty discouraging about accountability.

    • CAM March 31, 2023 (11:10 am)

      That’s not at all representative of how levy and tax dollars are tracked or managed. That was money from a private initiative by one person that was never actually transferred to the government. 

  • Plf March 30, 2023 (8:33 pm)

    This time if this passes I will be forced out of my house at 78i just can’t afford to live in my house anymore 

    • SEADOG March 31, 2023 (10:59 am)

      You should apply for a Senior Exemption:  https://senior-exemption.kingcounty.gov/introHope this helps! 

      • Plf April 1, 2023 (11:15 pm)

        I’m like many, my income is literally 26 dollars above the threshold Worked all my life, raised my child and never asked for anything my responsibility now can no longer live in this Seattle something is terribly wrong

  • Lauren March 30, 2023 (8:40 pm)

    Y’all come on.You’re tired of RVs? We need affordable housing.You’re tired of tents on the street? We need affordable housing.Our home is valued at $650,000. I did the math: this would cost us less than $300 per year.I’m more than happy to use a little bit of my good fortune to help a neighbor.

    • Wseattleite March 30, 2023 (9:25 pm)

      You are sadly mistaken if you think cheaper housing will address the issues you cite.  

      • Lauren March 30, 2023 (9:28 pm)

        Genuinely curious: what do you believe will solve those issues?

        • J March 30, 2023 (11:27 pm)

          Genuinely curious, where is this affordable housing? $700k plus  for townhouse/condo  developments that have literally popped up everywhere here in WS while droves of RV’s keep littering the streets of Harbor Ave etc etc  isn’t solving or addressing  one darn thing! Developers pay their required  “affordable housing” fee because they sure as heck aren’t including even one unit in these developments below market rate or even close to affordable. Too many Seattle voters keep blindly passing these levy’s and the homeless/housing crisis continues to grow! Start asking for accountability for any current, new or proposed funding that is intended to create  new|existing housing  that  will actually be occupied by low income individuals. When I buy something I get an itemized receipt from the vendor detailing my purchase(s). Why as a home owning tax payer do I not have access to an itemized breakout of where the money is being spent and the exact number of homeless residents that have become housed through this funding. When we continue to give money with zero results, zero accountability and complete lack of transparency in regard to dollars spent then “ fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me!” 

        • Ms. Sparkles March 31, 2023 (11:31 am)

          @Lauren IF this levy would be what it finally takes to solve the housing crisis, I would whole heartedly agree with you and vote for this levy.  But even the city admits that this will only result in 3,000 new homes, where 16,000 are needed (“Seattle mayor Harrell proposes tripling housing levy to $970M” Heidi Groover,  Seattle Times 3/30/2023). There’s also the issue of local funding of services creating an extra-local demand; this problem needs to be addressed at the Federal level to avoid the unintended consequence of wealthy liberal cities becoming the main provider of affordable housing and services nationwide. I’m all for density and affordability, but I want equity in funding – we need Federal help.

      • AMD March 30, 2023 (9:58 pm)

        You are sadly mistaken if you think cheaper housing will not address the issues they cite.

        • J March 31, 2023 (12:10 am)

          You are sadly mistaken to think any of these new or increased levy’s is creating cheaper housing! WHERE,WHOM, HOW MUCH. HOW LONG…….. I can “cite” stuff with no facts or figures too back up my “cites”! 

    • J March 30, 2023 (9:31 pm)

      $300 a year is A LOT to many people who live check to check. 

      • Derek March 31, 2023 (9:03 am)

        It’s $11 a paycheck. Pretty good trade off for lower housing prices and more density… we have a SERIOUS issue here. No one can afford to buy…

        • Julian April 1, 2023 (12:07 pm)

          It will have ZERO impact on housing prices.  A drop in the bucket.  

        • Plf April 1, 2023 (11:20 pm)

          Many of us don’t have paychecks but live on a fixed income I can’t afford 11$ paycheck, force me out and I’ll be homeless at 78this just isn’t fair

  • Over taxed March 30, 2023 (8:59 pm)

    Vote No!!! This is a never ending scam and nothing changes. The whole homelessness/mental health thing is in attempt to tug at your heart strings hoping it’s sure fire way to get it passed. 

  • onion March 30, 2023 (9:17 pm)

    We all need to study the new proposal with open and thoughtful minds. Assessing how effectively  this levy money has been used is an important part of any decent analysis. Having lived in Seattle for 30 years I realize that we (myself included) are too quick with our yes votes. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t vote for this proposal. I don’t know yet. But we voters and taxpayers need to do a better job of demanding results from our elected officials and not just blame them when we don’t get the outcomes we want.

  • Auntie March 30, 2023 (9:22 pm)

    My home may be valued (and taxed) at a rate of four times more than I paid for it, but the only way I can realize any benefit from that is if I sell it and move somewhere else – how about Arkansas?!? At the rate things are going, levies are going to tax me out of my home, too. My income doesn’t increase just because my home’s value increases. I don’t have an extra $200 a year at this point, nor am I likely to have it anytime in the foreseeable future. 

    • bill March 30, 2023 (9:46 pm)

      This is the insidious problem with property taxes. At the time you buy a house, the price is a proxy for your income and ability to pay the taxes. Fair enough. Many years later, your home’s valuation reflects your newest neighbor’s income. Being taxed on your neighbor’s income is not fair.

    • My two cents March 31, 2023 (6:43 am)

      Your assertion is based that your tax rate should remain constant but you should be able to reap the 4x appreciation?

  • 1994 March 30, 2023 (10:30 pm)

    Between the WA Cares taxes that will resume July 1, 2023 and the WA State family medical leave taxes we pay, those add up to hundreds of dollars a year. Throw in a few new levy’s (housing, mental health, move Seattle, Parks…) and now we are talking increasing taxes thousands of dollars a year. The lower middle income group grossing $75000 or under are getting screwed.  You earn too much to benefit from government perks but all these taxes leave it mighty tight to pay bills and have some funds to save. Forget about discretionary income because there isn’t much if any left over.

  • Rhonda March 31, 2023 (12:29 am)

    N O   W A Y

  • AC March 31, 2023 (2:45 am)

    Trying to fix Seattle’s affordable housing issue by making it more expensive to own a home in Seattle. Got it.

    Wait a second…

  • Just don’t have the money March 31, 2023 (6:05 am)

    Three upcoming levies which would increase my property taxes $1000+/- for the year. The causes are all good although like others I wonder about outcomes of current funds. It seems like this latest proposal depends on the availability of the other two, especially the behavioral health programs. We’re retired. Our income is very limited. Sure we could sell our 870sf house and move to Othello or Clarkston or Iowa. Or maybe we could get a roommate to live in the unfinished basement of our 1 bed 1 bath little house.I’m willing to do my socially responsible part and pay for one of these. I’d choose the Behavioral Health one. But I truly cannot afford all of them.

  • Admiral March 31, 2023 (8:05 am)

    Enough already, Seattle taxpayers already pay way more per capita than other residents in King County on this issue.  It’s time to spread the burden on all County residents equally and stop foisting the cost on Seattle taxpayers alone.

  • Dennis March 31, 2023 (8:19 am)

    Well said Auntie!   Vote NO.  I will be moving when I retire and renting or selling my house so I can afford to live.  I would love to live in my Seattle house and enjoy my time.  I’ve worked 42 years.  Not OK to raise taxes.  Where does this money go???

  • tim March 31, 2023 (8:50 am)

    plain and simple, my rent is going to increase.

  • Derek March 31, 2023 (9:00 am)

    YESS. First good thing Harrell’s done!

  • City Dweller March 31, 2023 (9:09 am)

    Homelessness should be addressed at the State and County levels. Suburbs must start providing their fair share of housing resources.

  • Fred March 31, 2023 (9:19 am)

    I agree. No way. More money down the drain with no accountability for the stated purpose. 

  • Rico March 31, 2023 (10:21 am)

    Please explain how increasing the cost of housing makes housing more affordable?   

  • SEADOG March 31, 2023 (10:26 am)

    For those seniors who are worried how they will pay property taxes, you may qualify for an exemption: Senior Exemption for Property Taxes

    • Duckie March 31, 2023 (12:03 pm)

      The exemption is not only for seniors but also for those with limited income (you have to meet an income threshold as specified in the link above).  This should help all of us living pay check to pay check who can’t afford increasing tax after tax, and which also does not seem to deliver any results in fixing the homeless crisis.  Sadly It seems the politicians don’t care about creating yet another kind of affordable housing crisis, this time for those who aren’t able to hang on to their homes with increasing taxes.

      • Scarlett March 31, 2023 (3:47 pm)

        Where is this mysterious population that is being taxed out of their homes?  I doubt they exist, except for a very few exceptions.   

          • Duckie March 31, 2023 (11:23 pm)

            It’s not just a “mysterious population” or “very few exceptions.” There are many, including many Commentators here, who have said they can’t afford it. Here’s another example that property tax increases  have real effects on the ability to stay in affordable housing and isn’t the few exception you imagine it to be — including impacts on teachers, people ofcolor, and elderly as in these articles. https://www.king5.com/article/news/local/seattle/seattle-central-area-property-tax-hikes-may-force-out-longtime-residents/281-530467923

          • Scarlett April 1, 2023 (12:57 pm)

            Come on, there is difference between not being able to pay one’s taxes and really not being able to pay.  Everyone complains about taxes, of course, but few are in danger of being evicted.  There are programs for seniors, for the disabled who need financial help.   I have farmers in the family who complain too about being poor, but always seem to have a newer model Ford truck in the driveway.   

        • AMD April 1, 2023 (7:24 am)

          There are definitely a lot of people who assume they can’t afford it, but haven’t actually done the math.  And others who will say they can’t afford it, but what they really mean is that they don’t want to skip a cup of coffee every month to help someone they don’t know.  Others still don’t know about the senior exemption and other programs available to seniors and disabled people.  There is no doubt that our tax system is regressive, but until people buckle down and commit to an income tax, that’s going to be true no matter how many levies are shot down.  In the meantime there are legitimately some people for whom $10 is going to break the bank.  And there are far, FAR more people who are in desperate need of housing.

          • Duckie April 1, 2023 (1:44 pm)

            More housing does not necessarily lower the base tax rate because the median house price in Seattle has risen despite more development.  Even back in 2016, before these proposed levies, Seattle ranked 7th in the nation for development of new housing yet property taxes continue to rise and are not dropping. Property taxes are calculated based on the assessed value of your property and the tax levy rate (and property values are increasing and not dropping in most neighborhoods).  And even under your logic, property taxes for a house will continue to increase with these additional levies, and will not be lowered, in the meantime until more housing is built. But again, it is a fallacy in the first place to assume that more housing equals lower base tax rate. And this involves more than just skipping a cup of coffee every month.  The article here mentions that the median cost is $31.92, and this is on top of property taxes assessed prior to the proposed levies which just further increases taxes.  For instance, since property taxes rose 43 percent between 2014 and 2018, they not shown any sign of going down.  And yes, as the examples in the articles illustrate, teachers, elderly, and BIPOC have been been impacted by higher taxes to the extent they can’t afford them and face displacement from their homes.  Thank goodness the WSB allows debate on this issue otherwise I would be forced to vote for the levies under your reasoning when not all agree with it as supported.  And yes, people have done the calculations as reflected in comments as to amounts they can’t afford.

          • Canton April 1, 2023 (8:53 pm)

            Well said. I think the big problem, is the tag, “homeowners”. How many people are perceived, as actually owning their house. There are homeowners and homeowers. The “n” is a big deal. Mortgages with increased taxes, puts people in the same situation, that some would put to public welfare. Have a population work their butts off, to provide for their family, then tax the crap out of them, to provide a better life for a citizen that refuses to do the same work to add to society.

      • Income Poor March 31, 2023 (8:03 pm)

        I don’t see the exemption for limited income only.  The link above says you have to be a senior or disabled, own home, and meet income limits.  You have to meet all 3 requirements, not just income limit. 

  • Duckie March 31, 2023 (11:00 am)

    Not all property owners can afford this tax and should not be the only ones to bear the financial burden of this. Property taxes have doubled in Seattle since 2016.  If you believe in this tax and vote for it, you should also pay a share of tax, regardless of whether you own a home, condo, rent, etc. Every person who votes for this should be paying the tax too.  If you believe in it, pay for it and don’t make others pay when you aren’t. For those of you who claim you are already paying taxes through sales or other taxes, that’s not the same as paying the extra amount proposed here.

    • Lauren March 31, 2023 (9:36 pm)

      Duckie, everyone WOULD pay for a levy like this. It’s reflected in rental prices. Property owners certainly do not eat that cost. (And yes, I know, I worked in that business for a while.)

  • Rick March 31, 2023 (11:57 am)

    A billion here, a billion there. Next thing ya know, you’re talking about real money.

  • Graciano March 31, 2023 (12:03 pm)

    Let’s see, make more affordable housing by making my house less affordable. I’ll be the person standing on the corner, Please HELP, can’t afford my property taxes!

    Why should I have to pay taxes anyways, the government can just print more money.

  • BJG March 31, 2023 (7:16 pm)

    If you are planning to request a property tax exemption, better start now. We filed our paperwork last year and many months later we’ve been told they’re “almost to September” in their reviews of filings. “Just go ahead and keep paying all your taxes for now.” 

  • anonyme April 1, 2023 (6:54 am)

    A couple of my biggest objections to these levies is that they are misrepresented.  The last Veterans, Seniors, and Human Services Levy resulted, ironically, in drastic cuts to senior services.  I believe the word ‘Seniors’ was added to the title only to garner both sympathy and/or more senior votes; I can’t speak to the impact on veteran services.  The last Libraries levy contained a lot of money for human/social services – which not only should have been covered in the aforementioned levy but appears to have been a sneaky way of hiding the true cost of money spent on homelessness issues, spreading out and disguising the costs rather than having them centralized where they can be accounted for.   Instead of devising new ways to deceive and manipulate voters, I suggest that local government not only cut the pork and be more transparent but use all that guile to come up with a more progressive tax system.

    • Canton April 1, 2023 (9:06 pm)

      Spot on. With the internet age, you’d think all expenditures would be accountable, on a public website for all to see. They did campaign with veteran affairs involved, but we have no resources to see where the money went. They always talk transparency, but the numbers are never shown. “They” refers to the multiple local agencies; city, county, state even federal taxes we pay.

  • AMD April 1, 2023 (7:35 am)

    The assessed value of all parcels in your taxing district is a huge factor in the calculation of your property taxes.  More housing lowers the base tax rate, which lowers that portion of your tax bill (assuming that your house is not appreciating disproportionately fast).  The assessor’s page on the county website has a decent breakdown of how your taxes are calculated.  More housing will alleviate the burden on poor, BIPOC, the elderly, teachers, and every other community people upthread are championing as a reason to say no.  If you really want to help marginalized communities long-term, we need more housing, and more housing options.

  • Aron April 1, 2023 (10:09 am)

    All the property the government purchases is removed from the tax base.  The government does not pay property taxes.  The tiny home article mentioned above put the cost of a tiny house at over $200,000 each.  The government has no interest in your personal struggles …

  • Millie April 1, 2023 (3:22 pm)

    These are just the “housing” levies that will total $383/year on an assessed home valuation of $855,136.  Then add the behavioral health levy, veterans, seniors, human services levy, the transportation levies (City and Sound Transit), Seattle Seawall, etc.  All of these are cumulative so $383/year is not the total.  I’m not sure how much longer I’m going to stay in Seattle.  Pretty sure I’ll be unable to do anything except pay for the levies.   We really need to hold our elected officials accountable (i.e., how much has been accomplished/spent on actual projects (ongoing/completed), how much on administrative overhead?

Sorry, comment time is over.