Ballots are out in Washington State. While there are many items for consideration, we would like to highlight the 2016 Housing Levy. We believe increasing the availability of affordable housing is a crucial part of reaching our community goals.
We are excited about the levy’s increase of rental production and preservation, reinvestment in existing affordable homes, rent support for extremely low-income renters, homelessness prevention, and displacement prevention. The Housing Levy significantly improves our priority areas:
- The expansion will give kids an equal chance to improve educational and health outcomes by producing and preserving 2,150 apartments for low-income families.
- Having an affordable home will support youth stay on track for graduation. Housing instability increases the likelihood students change schools. Each time a student changes schools, they lose 4-6 months of academic progress.
- The housing Levy builds financial stability for 280 households with purchase loans to first-time home buyers as well as foreclosure prevention assistance for homeowners at or below 80% of median income who are at risk of losing their homes.
- By providing stability services for 4,500 families that are at imminent risk of eviction, the Housing Levy supports our commitment to ending homelessness.
Additionally, this levy bolsters our work around racial equity. Over 45,000 Seattle households pay more than half of their income for housing. The housing cost burden is especially challenging for African American families in Seattle; one third are paying more than half their income for rent. We also know displacement disproportionately impacts communities of color. When affordable housing is available throughout the city, residents have choices of locations near their jobs, school, family members, and cultural communities.
To date, the Seattle Housing Levy has funded more than 12,500 affordable apartments throughout the city, helped 800 families purchase their first home, and provided emergency rent assistance to 6,500 families. Every housing levy has met and exceeded its goals.
Seattle voters should approve this effort to renew our commitment to an equitable and diverse city with affordable housing.