Seattle Housing Levy

Image courtesy of Seattle Office of Housing and the Under One Roof publication

Image courtesy of Seattle Office of Housing and the Under One Roof publication

HDC has been a key advocate for the Seattle Housing Levy. Most recently, HDC led the effort to renew the Seattle Housing Levy in 2009, resulting in an overwhelming victory with almost 66% voter support for the levy.

Since 1981, Seattle voters have approved one bond and four levies to create and preserve affordable housing. Seattle has now funded 10,000 affordable apartments for seniors, formerly homeless individuals and families, and low- to moderate-wage workers, plus provided loans to more than 600 first-time homebuyers and rental assistance to over 4,000 households.

The levy is up for renewal in 2016. HDC members recently approved a set of principles to guide our work to renew the Levy and to help begin a conversation with other community partners to ensure we continue to have a very effective dedicated funding source for affordable housing.

The primary focus of the Housing Levy is to fund construction or rehabilitation of apartment buildings that serve low- to moderate-income individuals and families. Because Levy-funded housing provides affordable rents and services for at least 50 years, these units will serve thousands of individuals and families over the years.

In addition, the Levy funds property operations and maintenance, which provides a subsidy to housing that serves those with the highest needs and fewest resources — including the elderly, disabled and mentally ill, as well as veterans suffering from physical and/or mental trauma sustained during service — to fill the gap between operating income (rent) and expenses (utilities, maintenance, staff costs).  The operating and maintenance funds ensure routine maintenance to preserve the City’s housing investment.

The Levy-funded homebuyer program provides loans for low- to moderate-income first-time homebuyers. The deferred loans are repaid when the owner sells or refinances the home, and funds revolve to assist more buyers. Through financial counseling and conventional mortgages, the program ensures households don’t buy more than they can afford. Even in these tough economic times, there have been no foreclosures among families purchasing with Levy loans.

Rental assistance funded through the Levy helps low-income families and individuals at risk of homelessness who need help due to a family crisis such as job loss, illness, divorce or a death in the family.