ELECTION 2023: The billion-dollar ballot measure you’ll be voting on

Ballots go out two weeks from today. Although we’ve been focusing on the Seattle City Council District 1 vote, you’ll be deciding another city matter in the general election: The renewal/expansion of the Seattle Housing Levy. You can read the ballot measure in its entirety here; its official explanatory statement begins:

Proposition 1 would authorize a seven-year property tax increase, replacing an expiring levy, to finance low-income housing and provide for housing needs of low-income persons. Approximately 51 percent of levy funding is anticipated to serve households earning 30 percent or less of Seattle area median income.

Over those seven years, as we reported earlier this year, the levy would raise almost a billion dollars. When councilmembers finalized it in June, we published a breakdown of where those dollars would go. Seattle has had a Housing Levy since 1986; that first one was for $50 million, while the one that’s expiring now totaled almost $300 million. If your house is worth about $900,000, this is projected to cost you about $32 a month. The arguments for and against are linked here. Projects funded at least in part by the expiring levy include Salish Landing, the 82-apartment Delridge complex that opened this year, built on the site of the former Lam Bow Apartments

64 Replies to "ELECTION 2023: The billion-dollar ballot measure you'll be voting on"

  • Bus October 4, 2023 (7:06 pm)

    Good use of tax money, and will cost about the same as seeing a movie for my household.  No brainer there!

  • Brandon October 4, 2023 (7:13 pm)

    Ah yes, the classic “add another tax to people with homes passed on to their renters, to subsidize housing their renters will eventually have to move into, justifying more affordable housing to rinse and repeat the downward cycle.” Foolproof business model.

    • New Deal October 5, 2023 (8:22 am)

      Nice to hear from some like minded Seattleites.  If people think that property tax increases don’t get transferred down to renters they are fooling themselves.  But go ahead Seattle, vote yes and prove me wrong.  Affordable housing needs to be funded outside of housing.  This doesn’t mean that you don’t agree with funding affordable housing, it means you want another funding source.  And BTW, if you fund it with a gas tax levy you are also hurting the homeless.  I doubt many of them are driving Teslas.

      • Brandon October 5, 2023 (1:06 pm)

        The funny thing about affordable housing is that there will never be enough affordable housing.  Which you’d think would be an obvious indicator that the issue is broader, and this isn’t doing anything to solve it but wasting money and kicking the can down the road.  But people like shiny things that sound nice but don’t last at all our expense.

        We need to bring the bottom up. Not erase the middle and bring it down to the same level.

  • wetone October 4, 2023 (7:27 pm)

    Big NO from me…ballot needs more money towards mental health, drug rehab, and stopping the fentanyl dealers. Housing program proposed by Bruce Harrell is a joke and benefits builders and higher income , as few units will benefit low income. Why aren’t all those little houses at Occidental and Horton being used ? Must be a 100 sitting there . Where is Dow Constantine on all this ? sure been quite lately…….  I thought his hotel purchase’s would of helped a little….;)

  • Land Dad October 4, 2023 (7:40 pm)

    Voting No. Enough is Enough.  Clearly they can’t manage the money they have.  City council is a mess too.  Higher rents if you vote yes.  It will happen. I’m a landlord. 

    • Jeff October 5, 2023 (10:27 am)

      You’re the reason we need to vote yes. Hopefully a measure gets passed that makes it illegal for you to hike rents for us renters to help pay your unsound investment. 

      • Canton October 5, 2023 (10:05 pm)

        If the costs go up for the landlords, the costs go up for the renters. Simple economics.

      • Wseattleite October 5, 2023 (11:29 pm)

        Illegal to raise rents to cover greater costs?  Are you serious?  It’s like some people don’t know how anything works.   

  • Matt October 4, 2023 (7:46 pm)

    Will be voting NO on this.

    • The King October 5, 2023 (3:26 pm)

      Welcome to the 20% club friend. I’ve been in it with the rest of us losers for over 30 years. Seattle voters never saw a tax they didn’t like, most will pass with 80% yes. 

  • Plf October 4, 2023 (7:47 pm)

    Didn’t we just vote on a similar measure, wish they did all these proposals at once so we understand the real cost, It’s like drip drip drip of requestshard stop no from me, being taxed out of my home, my social security is not increasing proportionate to all these increases, inflation 

    • 1994 October 5, 2023 (9:05 pm)

      The Move Seattle levy will be up for renewal in Nov 2024…..the last one in 2015 was for almost a billion dollars .  

  • Admyrl Byrd October 4, 2023 (8:10 pm)

    Seattle has not shown effective use or impact with the tax dollars they take in, so they propose levy increases with grandiose visions about how it will help, hoping we’ll forget that this is what they said the last time as well.  Just today Seattle Times published another article about the dysfunction in the two year old Homeless Authority.  Until the City (and County) can demonstrate they are effective managers and stewards of my home equity, i’m not giving them more of it.  This, Sound Transit, where does it end?  

    • WSDUDEMAN October 5, 2023 (8:05 am)

      Well said Admyrl Byrd. Unfortunately it won’t end. Most people in the Seattle area are emotionally driven when it comes to issues like this. Far less demand accountability and oversight with our money.

    • J October 5, 2023 (6:30 pm)

      Agree. Incompetence demonstrated at managerial levels in local government. I usually vote yes. No more. Done!

  • Rhonda October 4, 2023 (8:33 pm)

    N O ✔

  • Color me skeptical October 4, 2023 (8:42 pm)

    All the money spent so far with no accountability produced such spectacular results, let’s just triple down. Folks will vote for this because it feels good and “it’s only $32 a month” and property ownership is prejudiced or something, but it will produce no results and the gov will be back at the trough asking for more before you know it. I remember the handsy mayor before Durkan giving a speech one time that the reason a woman had to step over a homeless person to leave her $3,000/month apartment building was because homeowners wouldn’t give him enough money to solve the problem. Same old song, we just haven’t spent enough. What would it cost to just buy/build micro apartments for every homeless person in the city? 

    • Eric October 4, 2023 (10:02 pm)

      It’s impossible. More people would just come here and we’d be housing every homeless person in the world. There has to be some qualifiers for being housed by Seattle taxpayers dollars. You can’t just get your Winnebago running enough to get from San Bernardino or Phoenix to Seattle then call her good, Boom! Housed! You want to be housed by my tax dollars? Here is the qualifiers:0. Were you born in Seattle?    – No? Here’s a one way bus ticket to where you were born. This is an emergency. We can’t take care of the entire world here.     – Seattle? Continue. 1. Are you on drugs or an alcoholic?    – Yes? Get cleaned up first. Here are some programs for that. You have one chance to go through the program.     – No? Continue. 2. Are you otherwise mentally unfit for society?    – Yes? Here are some programs for that. You have one chance to go through the program. Again, this is an emergency here.     – No? Continue. 3. Are you willing to be location monitored 24×7?    – No? Sorry, you’re high risk.     – Yes? Continue. 4. Are you physically able to do basic tasks (picking up 20lbs, walking, standing, etc.)?    – No? We have a federal social safety net that will keep you fed and housed. Here is a program that will get you some disability benefits.     – Yes? Continue. 5. Here is a dorm room, a cell phone, a regular job and some structure.     – There is a curfew of 9pm for your dorm    – You will submit a urine sample 2x a month. If you are using illicit drugs, you’re gone.     – Your phone is subsidized by the state, but is recorded and all the things associated with that.     – You can work your way up through the ranks of your job by being outstanding.    – Here are many free schooling opportunities, learn, study, move forward.     – At some point, there will be opportunities to move out on your own. Until then here is structure. With it, the world is your oyster. Without it, you’re doing no one any good. Next!It seems callous in black and white,  very minimally defined in this forum, but we’re in an emergency scenario right now. This isn’t something that churches and volunteer groups can address. This is something that state and city governments need to address. 

      • Spooled October 5, 2023 (5:03 am)

        I absolutely love this!  All of this.  It’s not callous at all.  The RV up the street all summer with Oregon plates needs to limp itself back to Portland or register as a Washington resident.  The people demanding free housing but don’t want the terms and conditions of being in a society can stay the hell out of my tax wallet!  Here’s a paying job cleaning up the freeway medians or a 1-way bus ticket to anywhere.  Choose!

      • Bus October 5, 2023 (6:32 am)

        The program you’ve described would be more expensive than paying to house everyone who needs it, and reeks of xenophobia (if not outright prejudice).  I doubt you yourself would meet the mark were it implemented, but luckily we don’t create legislation or social programs based on the caprices of random internet commenters.  

        • Barton October 5, 2023 (1:06 pm)

          I’ll bet people would be willing to voluntarily donate significant funds, in addition to voting yes on taxes, if requirements like Eric’s were implemented because, unlike the current situation, it doesn’t feel like throwing money into a dumpster fire.

      • WS Res October 5, 2023 (3:11 pm)

        My god, you really love authoritarianism – so long as you get to fantasize about visiting it on someone else.

      • 1994 October 5, 2023 (6:31 pm)

        You got it Eric! Eric for mayor! Recent Seattle Times opinion piece by a homeless provider/advocate cited a couple reasons why homeless people declined offers of housing units. Not enough space to store my stuff. Can’t grow tomato plants there (at the public supplied housing). So these 2 persons declined housing for those reasons!!!!!  Like the opinion writer noted, have you seen tomato plants growing on the streets, have you seen the stuff they want to ‘store’?  Totally does not make sense yet they can decline housing & remain on the street….

  • tim October 4, 2023 (10:44 pm)

    How much ya wanna bet my rent will go up $50 a month?

  • Mellow Kitty October 5, 2023 (6:54 am)

    When will the government be able properly budget? There’s surely enough money coming in via existing taxes. Hell the tobacco, cannabis and soda tax should be raking in the dough! I know; it’s a rhetorical question. 

  • TiredOfDelridge October 5, 2023 (7:15 am)

    I’m going to vote no on this one

  • Mr J October 5, 2023 (8:16 am)

    I find a lot of the above comments foul, heartless and entitled. Housing is a human right. Food is a human right. Healthcare is a human right. The fact that some people are trying to put qualifiers on it is disgusting. Rather than petty outrage over a monthly dollar amount we should collectively be asking why we don’t have progressive taxation in this State and Country to make sure everyone is housed, fed and cared for. This includes people that are not homeless but some in our community are a health scare away from being on the streets. Show some compassion and redirect your anger to the system that’s creating these issues and not the people living it. And spare us all the reply troupes of these people are all drug addicts etc. visible homelessness is not all homelessness. 

    • Sure October 5, 2023 (12:07 pm)

      “Human Rights” are just arbitrary standards backed by a percentage of a society … and clearly there isn’t widespread agreement on these issues.  Nobody “deserves” those things inherently despite what you label them. 

      • Mr J October 5, 2023 (1:06 pm)

        That’s one of most fascists things I’ve read in a while. I hope you’re just trolling as a Libertarian and don’t actually believe that.

        • Brandon October 5, 2023 (2:33 pm)

          All of those things are privileges in the real world we live in. Nothing worth having is easy or free.  You need to work for it, or else what is the point of doing anything?

          If food, security, and shelter are all provided there is no need to work, and society collapses in on itself.  Much like what is happening on the day to day as we give away more and more.  It’s odd, but you have pretty much all of history as evidence.

          • Mr J October 5, 2023 (4:30 pm)

            No Brandon, those are not privileges those are rights. Suggesting people wouldn’t work or contribute because they have basic needs taken care of is ridiculous. I’m sure you can pull up   anecdotal Thought pieces on people milking the system. The evidence isn’t in there. Big social projects like this have been successful worldwide.  Social programs work. Put down your Paul Ryan fantasy book and Google it. 

        • wscommuter October 5, 2023 (3:07 pm)

          While I don’t agree at all with “Sure”, you don’t seem to understand the meaning of the word “fascism”, which has nothing to do with the (ill advised, in my view) opinion Sure expressed.

          • Mr J October 5, 2023 (4:17 pm)

            I’m stretching the definition a lot in terms haves v have nots and the vilification of those have nots. I see your point and will find a better term for what I was aiming at.

          • WestSeattleBadTakes October 5, 2023 (6:33 pm)

            Don’t let them gaslight you. There are absolutely elements of fascism in what was said. Not to mention how cowardly they are in their own ideas.

    • Lauren October 5, 2023 (8:41 pm)

      YAS, Mr J

  • Hey Lady October 5, 2023 (8:27 am)

    Been paying property taxes for 20 years. Current annual cost is $7000. I’m a single, mortgage paying, liberal mom. I vote no. Stop asking regular folks to solve corporate caused city problems like homelessness. The big guys took over downtown, made it unaffordable, closed local businesses and then left. Hold THEM accountable, not me. 

    • KM October 5, 2023 (9:42 am)

      Our state constitution is designed to punish the lower and middle classes. We have to take it up with legislators before we can begin to deal with corporate greed and inequitable taxes, unfortunately. 

  • jester October 5, 2023 (9:02 am)


  • The Earl October 5, 2023 (9:26 am)

    let us continue to be fooled that more money, more money is going to cure all of our problems.

  • Jay October 5, 2023 (10:14 am)

    These taxes are insanely regressive. When will Washington sober up and pass an income tax so we stop bleeding the poor and middle class?

  • Jeff October 5, 2023 (10:26 am)

    YES!!!! More affordable housing please! 

  • April October 5, 2023 (10:32 am)

    No! They need to learn to budget what they have and stop wasting our tax money!

  • skeeter October 5, 2023 (10:33 am)

    I feel like this levy should be at the state level – or perhaps county level.  Seattle only has a very small portion of the state’s population but I feel like we’re shouldering the whole burden of providing housing for people who cannot afford housing.  Or put another way — does Bellevue have a housing levy?  Renton?  Mercer Island?  Federal Way?  Tacoma?  

  • flimflam October 5, 2023 (11:04 am)

    Ah yes, once again the never ending “expiring” levy…What was the last levy that failed to pass??

    • CH October 5, 2023 (2:14 pm)

      I’m always encouraged reading the comments on these property tax issues, and then election day comes and I feel like Charlie Brown with Lucy holding the football.

  • Amy Thomson October 5, 2023 (11:14 am)

    I plan to vote yes.  We need all the low income housing we can create!  In the 40 years since I moved to Seattle, I’ve watched the homeless population burgeon as housing prices skyrocketed.  Providing low income housing is very hard, because doing so is moving against powerful economic currents.  But just because it’s hard (and expensive!) doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing!  Housing people is the kind, just, and compassionate thing to do.

  • Scarlett October 5, 2023 (11:24 am)

    How many complain about big corporations and then the next moment go up pick up their “swoosh” Amazon package at the front door?   People really have a jaw-dropping ability to compartmentalize their own complicity in the process.   Talk is the only thing that hasn’t skyrocketed in price, it’s still really, really cheap.  

    • KM October 5, 2023 (1:23 pm)

      Pitting us against each other while we argue about who is better at boycotting Amazon or Nike or Starbucks, etc. is what those who hold capital want. It’s a silly distraction. See also: small landlords vs. renters during the pandemic.

      • Scarlett October 5, 2023 (3:27 pm)

        That’s just a cop-out to evade taking responsibility for our own actions.   Consumers have to be smarter,  more disciplined and stop acting like children who require instant gratification. 

        • Mr J October 5, 2023 (5:43 pm)

          It’s not a cop-out. Culture wars are just a distraction from the systemic change we need in our system to provide basic needs. Punching up and not at each other is the goal. 

          • Scarlett October 5, 2023 (6:45 pm)

            Sorry, I’m the wrong person to lecture about “culture wars.”  I’ve been arguing that culture wars are a distraction here on this blog, and elsewhere for years.  But this has nothing to do with culture wars, I am reminding everyone that they can make a difference by changing their spending habits.   Or, would you prefer a state entity to make all these decisions for you?  Power and control are power and control and it doesn’t matter who’s turning the knobs, whether an intrusive liberal state or a corporate America, though the two are increasing melded together.   

  • Mark October 5, 2023 (2:54 pm)

    Over a billion dollars per year is spent on the homeless problem in Metro Seattle with very little to show for it. If we cut that by 90%, maybe we can get some roads fixed, parks cleaned and criminals behind bars. The more you spend, the more will come.

    • Alki resident October 5, 2023 (4:16 pm)

      BINGO, you nailed it

    • WS Rez October 5, 2023 (6:35 pm)

      Please vote NO.  The method of management thus far gives no reason to throw more money at it. I just see more money giving more people reason to live off the government. This city has normalized living off entitlements.  Housing and food are not human rights. The opportunity and ability to earn money to purchase these things could be a human right, but to me it’s more of an American right.  Jobs openings are plentiful at all levels, especially entry level right now. To anyone who is now going to respond that those jobs don’t pay enough for people to live in the city, living where you work is also NOT a human right. My 25 year old self will tell you about the two busses I would take from Covington to Downtown. Working your way up is part of the dues. No short cuts.  No freebies.  Bring back pride in working and building a life.  Vote NO!

  • anonyme October 5, 2023 (4:21 pm)

    Nobody gives a crap what anybody else has to say here, nor will my NO vote make any difference.  The levy will pass, and nothing will change.  Great job, Seattle.

    • Scarlett October 5, 2023 (7:03 pm)

      I fled both political parties and became a libertarian.  Both political parties want to control you, they just have a different liturgy.  The left wants to tell you what to think, what to eat, what to read, what to watch, how to speak,  what to drive – what to carry home your groceries in, and I’m afraid Republicans have the same control freak tendencies.  The U.S. Constitution is, after all, is essentially a libertarian document.  

  • Tax Me Please October 5, 2023 (5:44 pm)

    My wife & I are seriously considering divorce.  We still love each other, that hasn’t changed. But I’m retired & would qualify for a senior exemption as a single person on social security.  Staying married, I/we would never qualify for the exemption.  Granted the senior exemption just lessens the tax burden, there is still a property tax but it appears the only way to get around this constant, perpetual annual property tax increase (to fund programs that aren’t well-managed) is to take this drastic step.

    • Rick October 6, 2023 (9:39 am)

      Sad world we live in, eh?

  • Lauren October 5, 2023 (8:40 pm)

    Alternate headline:

    ELECTION 2023: Help the homeless with a slight increase to a tax you already pay

    • Bubbasaurus October 6, 2023 (10:09 am)

      Reality headline: Continue to expand the homeless industrial complex with more of your tax dollars without actually helping the homeless.

  • Rick October 6, 2023 (9:41 am)

    A billion here, a billion there and the next thing you know is you’re talkin’ some REAL money!

  • Admiral-2009 October 6, 2023 (9:50 am)

    I estimate that a typical renter rents include about $250 to $300 in added rent due to property taxes.  It would be nice to make this cost more transparent to renter’s.  Foisting more property taxes will increase rents, enough already.

    • 1994 October 6, 2023 (9:54 pm)

      23.5% , $1700, of my property tax bill is Voter Approved Portion = levies that have been approved by voters in Seattle.  

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