King County logo
City of Seattle

Proposition No. 1
Property Tax Levy Renewal for Affordable Housing

The City of Seattle’s Proposition 1 concerns replacing the Seattle Housing Levy.

If approved, this proposition would replace an expiring levy to fund: housing for low-income seniors, workers, and households, and the disabled and mentally ill; and homelessness prevention and reduction programs, including emergency rental assistance for at-risk families.

It authorizes regular property taxes above RCW 84.55 limits, allowing $290,000,000 in additional taxes over seven years beginning in 2017, limited to $41,428,571/year. The 2017 regular tax rate would be limited to $3.60/$1,000 assessed value, including approximately $0.25/$1,000 assessed value in additional taxes.

Should this levy lid lift be approved?



Proposition Number 1 would authorize a seven-year property tax increase to finance low-income housing, and provide housing assistance to low-income households.  The proposition defines low-income households based on guidelines published by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.  Most levy funds would serve households earning less than 30% of Seattle area median income.

Some form of housing levy has been in effect since 1981.  The last housing levy, which totaled $145 million, passed in 2009 and expires this year.  If approved, Proposition Number 1 would increase taxes levied in 2016 through 2022 and collected in 2017 through 2023.  It would authorize Seattle to raise up to $290 million in additional property taxes over the seven-year period.  The City could levy no more than $41,428,571 in additional taxes each year.

The levy funds shall be used to finance affordable housing for low-income households, and otherwise to provide for the housing needs of low-income households.  Proposition 1 includes anticipated levy programs as specified in Exhibit 1 to Ordinance 125028, a copy of which is printed in full in this pamphlet.  Levy programs primarily fund construction, preservation and operation of rental housing, accounting for 84% of total funding.  Funding also assists low-income homeowners and households at risk of homelessness, and pays for administration of levy programs. 

In summary, the programs are:

Rental Production and Preservation. Construction and preservation of rental housing and rehabilitation of existing affordable housing serving households with incomes at or below 60% of median income. The majority of funding will serve households with incomes at or below 30% of median income.

Operating and Maintenance.  Operating support for Levy-funded buildings that serve residents at or below 30% of median income, including formerly homeless and other residents needing supportive services.

Homelessness Prevention and Housing Stability Services.  Rent assistance and stability services for individuals and families at or below 50% of median income, to prevent eviction and address homelessness.

Homeownership.  Foreclosure prevention assistance for homeowners and loans for first-time homebuyers at or below 80% of median income; emergency home repair grants for homeowners at or below 50% of median income.

Acquisition and Preservation.  Short-term loans for purchasing buildings or land for rental or homeownership development serving households at or below 80% of median income.

Administration.  Funding for administration of levy programs.

The City Council could change the programs, consistent with the basic purpose of the proposition.

The City Council would periodically review and adopt Administrative and Financial Plans covering levy programs.  The proposition would create an oversight committee to monitor and report on the progress of the levy programs. 

State law generally limits the increase in property taxes to one percent above the highest amount that the City could have received in the prior year.  Proposition 1 allows the City to exceed this limit. In 2017, the additional taxes would be approximately 25 cents per $1,000 of assessed value.  The City’s regular property-tax rate would not exceed the state law limit of $3.60 per $1,000 of assessed value.

For questions about this measure, contact: Polly Grow, Seattle Ethics and Elections, 206-615-1248,


Seattle is a great city, but housing affordability is a serious issue. As we grow, we must continue building and protecting affordable housing options.

The new seven-year Seattle housing levy, replacing and expanding the expiring housing levy, is a proven broad-based response that helps working FAMILIES, YOUNG PEOPLE and SENIORS to remain in the city. It also provides supportive housing for people experiencing homelessness, safe housing for victims of domestic violence and their children, and emergency rental assistance to keep families from losing their homes.


Since 1981, Seattle voters have passed affordable housing levies that helped to produce and preserve thousands of units for community members in need. Seattle has now funded more than 12,500 affordable apartments for SENIORS, low-wage WORKERS, and neighbors who are living with a DISABILITY or transitioning out of HOMELESSNESS. This $290 million levy will fund at least 2,150 additional apartments that will be kept affordable for 50 years or more, while providing emergency rental assistance to prevent homelessness for 4,500 families.


Too many in Seattle do not have a stable home, or are just one unexpected emergency away from homelessness. Nearly 3,000 Seattle Schools students are experiencing homelessness. Children experiencing homelessness are 87% more likely to drop out of school.

This levy dedicates substantial funding to housing for LOW INCOME FAMILIES, providing kids with stable homes while also providing assistance to community members experiencing homelessness seeking permanent supportive housing.


Proposition 1 will cost the owner of a typical $480,000 home $122 a year - just $5 more per month over the expiring levy. Seattle is becoming unaffordable for hospital workers, preschool teachers, seniors, and people on fixed incomes. $5 more per month is a small price to pay for a huge return on investment for our community.

Let’s make Seattle a city where affordable homes are available to all! Join Mayor Murray, all nine council members, and respected housing and homeless services leaders in supporting PROPOSITION 1 on August 2!

Supported by: Housing Development Consortium, Seattle King County Coalition on Homelessness, the Greater Church Council, Tenants Union of Washington, Seattle Chamber of Commerce, King County Labor Council, District Democratic organizations across Seattle, Sierra Club, County Executive Dow Constantine, and many more!

Please vote YES on Proposition 1 for Affordable Housing!

Seattle voters are supportive of solutions addressing Affordable Housing and Homelessness, however the 2016 proposed Housing Levy does not address TODAY’s affordable housing issues, causes and does not exhibit fiscal responsibility. The first Housing Levy was created in 1986 but Seattle is a much different city today. A “NO” vote forces our City Leaders to create a NEW, realistic policy that fits the Seattle of TODAY!

City leadership promised a “Solution to Homelessness” in the 2009 Housing Levy and yet, in January of 2016 there were more than 4,300 people sleeping outside and more than 8,000 individuals sleeping in shelters. How can City Leadership tell the taxpayers of Seattle that this strategy is working?

The proposed Housing Levy does not represent a good investment in that the total Levy goes from $145 million to $290 million with forecasted new affordable housing units to be less than those built with the 2009 Levy. City Leaders said that the doubling of the Levy was due to the forecasted inflation of land, building materials and labor.  This weak explanation doesn’t reflect any sound reasoning as inflation never has run at that high of a rate. The Mayor’s Select Committee for the 2016 Housing Levy has never publicly addressed any cost reduction analysis when defining the amount of the proposed Levy.

The City’s Affordable Housing initiative will not go away if this Levy does not pass! The Seattle Housing Levy 2015 Report (page 15) states that Housing Levy funds make up only 10% of the affordable housing budget so we can sustain our current affordable housing investments while our City Leaders work to define a NEW SOLUTION that is more comprehensive and realistic in addressing the current problems the City is facing. The new policy needs to create an exit plan; a hand-up for individuals, not a hand-out from taxpayers. With the ever-increasing property taxes, we need to do our due diligence and ask ourselves if throwing more money at this program will really work.

The time is now to challenge our City Leadership to a comprehensive plan that brings together the City, Local Business, Non-Profits and Citizens to develop a solution that will benefit all, including the disappearing Middle Class.

Vote “NO” on this Levy and tell the City of Settle we need a NEW POLICY for TODAY that addresses CAUSES, not only symptoms of this large problem our City faces!

Submitted by: Glenn Singer, Brianna McDonald

Seattle’s housing levy has a 35-year track record of SUCCESS creating affordable housing. This levy addresses today’s urgent housing needs - producing housing near transit for seniors, people with disabilities and low-wage workers; preserving housing for residents threatened by rising rents; and funds supportive housing for our neighbors exiting homelessness - for just $5 more per month than the expiring levy.

Opponents’ falsely claim Seattle can maintain its affordable housing initiatives without this levy.  The levy is the cornerstone of Seattle’s housing investments, giving Seattle an edge in attracting additional matching funds. 

Prior levies results are strong and well documented, routinely exceeding goals set by voters. Rental production and preservation goals for this levy are 480 units MORE than the expiring levy.  Accountability is built in with robust project monitoring and community oversight.

Safe, stable housing is a fundamental Seattle value.  Vote YES on Proposition 1 this August, vote #YesForHomes!

Submitted by: Ron Sims, Kelly Rider, Gordon McHenry, Jr.,,

No statement submitted.

Simple majority (RCW 84.55.050)

For questions about this measure, contact: Polly Grow, Seattle Ethics and Elections, 206-615-1248,

4 en-US Production

TTY: Relay 711

Sign up for email or text notifications