It’s Simple: Renew the Housing Levy on Election Day

By Gordon McHenry, Jr., on October 4, 2023 | In Fighting Homelessness, News, Racial Equity

Safe, stable housing is fundamental to our core humanity. All humans need food, clothing, education, health care, and shelter. You cannot, as an individual or community, survive without those essentials. Yet providing shelter is an aspect of humanity that we struggle with in the King County region, mainly because existing housing is very expensive and affordable housing is in limited supply.

It’s become challenging enough for us to have a sufficient quantity of housing that our community needs in general. But that insufficient quantity has only exacerbated our chronic homelessness issue—whether it’s emergency shelter, transitional housing, permanent supportive housing, or affordable, market-rate housing.

Simply put, we need more places to call home that are affordable. Right now, the mere ability to stay housed is overwhelming for too many of our neighbors. Data has shown that there are individuals, families, and communities in the Greater Seattle area that have historically not benefited (and continue to not benefit) from the area’s prosperity.

That is why it is critical that we renew the Seattle Housing Levy, a timely and effective response to this urgent need. The current housing levy is set to expire at the end of 2023. Voters have an opportunity to renew the levy in the November 7 general election.

According to the City of Seattle’s Office of Housing, renewal of the levy:

  • Would generate $970 million in affordable housing investments from 2024-2030.
  • Would build more than 3,100 new affordable homes for seniors, low-income workers, families, and people experiencing homelessness.
  • Would produce and preserve more than 3,500 affordable apartments.
  • Would assist more than 9,000 low-income households with resources to prevent homelessness and ensure housing stability.
  • Would prevent displacement of low-income households and support community-based developments that reflect the communities that people are rooted in.

Seattle has benefitted from such levies since 1986, ensuring that more than 15,000 people are kept in homes they can afford for nearly 40 years. It’s something that we hope other municipalities in King County will replicate.

At United Way, we have redoubled our efforts to address the area’s homelessness problem in many ways, primarily by keeping people in their homes (via rental assistance and eviction protection) and by serving on governing bodies of agencies working to move people on the streets into housing. We all know firsthand the importance of quality housing to the stability and livelihood of a community.

Housing in West Seattle

I grew up in Beacon Hill in a standalone home in an incredibly diverse neighborhood in terms of race, ethnicity, and socioeconomics. Many of my friends also lived in standalone homes and many lived in Holly Park (now New Holly, an affordable housing community), which was originally public housing for returning veterans and their families after World War II.

My classmates were stably housed—some in standalone homes, some in supportive housing—and together we made up a rich and vibrant community. It’s about commonality, no matter where you make your home. As I look around Seattle, I believe we need more of that—neighborhoods that are rich in their socioeconomic, racial, ethnic, and housing diversity.

But no rich, vibrant, and stable community—whether it’s in the city, the suburbs, or in the countryside—is developed or endures on its own. It takes people committed to upholding our human right to safe, affordable, and resourceful places to live. The Seattle Housing Levy is a great example of a commitment to action. Now, it’s up to voters to act: Renew the Housing Levy on November 7.


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