Countywide affordable housing tax approved for Snohomish County
SNOHOMISH COUNTY — A Snohomish County Council majority last week authorized an increase to the county sales tax rate by 0.1 percent using the authority granted in House Bill 1590 to increase the stock of affordable housing.
The 0.1 percent ($0.01 per $10 purchase) will start being collected in April 2022.
This authorization in Snohomish County is expected to raise approximately $116 million over five years for investments in affordable housing.
Authorizing this new source of funding will support the creation of a projected 300 new units of affordable housing over the next five years, more than doubling the current production rate and increasing the total new affordable housing units to 522. It would also create at least 100 new units of bridge and permanent supportive housing which, when combined with other investments in process, could bring 42 percent of all unsheltered residents off the streets and into safer places.
“Today’s decision is one of many actions we are taking to address the housing affordability crisis and homelessness,” said Snohomish County Council Chair Stephanie Wright. “The housing crisis is an overwhelming burden for too many Snohomish County residents, and we must take action now to help those who are struggling. These strategies will help stabilize families, get people off the streets, and provide the services they so desperately need. Public safety and the health of our community require these bold steps.”
“Housing affordability is negatively impacting people across the economic spectrum in Snohomish County,” said Snohomish County Councilmember Jared Mead. “This is a modest and sensible approach to the crisis that is facing too many families. If we act now with the urgency this crisis demands, we can begin to make progress. Doing nothing would be easier but also leave us with problems that become even more difficult to solve.”
“No one can deny that there is a housing affordability crisis, and no one can argue against the need to take bold action,” said Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers. “We cannot allow this crisis to further erode our economy, our environment, and the health of our community. We will now begin to make a difference.”
The affordable housing crisis in Snohomish County has been well documented, including that more than one-third of households in Snohomish County pay more than 30 percent of their income on housing costs (based on 2018 Census Bureau report), and approximately one-third of all households are at 60 percent of Area Median Income or below. This means that about one-third of Snohomish County households are in need of housing that will not be produced without governmental or nonprofit interventions.
Any proposed spending on affordable housing, shelter, and behavioral health projects resulting from this authorization will be coordinated with cities and towns, as well as two established bodies: the Snohomish County Housing and Community Development Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) and the Policy Advisory Board (PAB). These bodies have representatives from impacted communities, cities, towns, and housing experts.
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