King County logo
City of Seattle

Initiative Measure No. 135

City of Seattle Initiative Measure 135 concerns developing and maintaining affordable social housing in Seattle.

This measure would create a public development authority (PDA) to develop, own, and maintain publicly financed mixed-income social housing developments. The City would provide start-up support for the PDA. The City Council would determine the amount of ongoing City support. Before it transfers any public lands for nonpublic use, the City would be required to consider a transfer to the PDA. The PDA’s Charter would govern the election, composition, and duties of the PDA’s Board of Directors.

Should this measure be approved?



This measure would create the “Seattle Social Housing Developer” as a public development authority (PDA) to develop, own and maintain social housing in Seattle, with all the powers available to PDAs under local and state law. Social housing means publicly owned and financed mixed-income housing intended to be permanently affordable.

The City would be required to provide 18 months of in-kind support to establish the PDA, including at minimum office space, staffing, supplies, insurance and bonding, and legal services. Subsequent City support, including funding, if any, would be at the City Council’s discretion. Whenever the City considers the sale or gift of public lands for private or non-public use, it would need to prepare a feasibility study regarding whether the property should be transferred to the PDA for social housing.

This measure would approve the PDA’s Charter that establishes a governing Board of thirteen members, with seven members initially appointed by the Seattle Renters’ Commission (SRC) and six by other entities. Subsequently, the “Constituency,” meaning the PDA’s social housing residents, would assume the SRC’s responsibility to elect seven Board members. Other entities would continue to appoint six members representing various areas of expertise.

The PDA’s Charter describes the purpose, directives, and goals of the PDA. It requires that social housing be owned exclusively by the PDA and, where possible, contain units that accommodate mixes of extremely low to moderate household income ranges, and household sizes. The Board, with Constituency agreement, may recommend amendments to the Charter for City Council approval.

We are facing an unrelenting housing and homelessness crisis in Seattle, with skyrocketing rents far outpacing wages and forcing a growing number of us out of our own communities -- particularly in Black and Brown communities. Simply put, we need more affordable housing and the tools we have to build it are not enough. 

I-135 would give us a new, powerful tool to counter this crisis: a community-owned social housing developer that would build permanently affordable housing in which no one spends more than 30% of their income on rent. These high-quality, green, union-built homes would be available to people across the income spectrum, including educators, healthcare workers, child care providers, those with fixed incomes, and marginalized communities displaced from the city.    

These homes would be financed through municipal bonding and wouldn’t take resources away from existing affordable housing. This is a model with a proven record in Maryland, and around the world, including Austria, New Zealand, and Uruguay.

Together, we can create a Seattle where everyone can afford to live and thrive. Endorsed by El Centro de la Raza, Seattle Education Association, UFCW 3000, MLK Labor Council, Solid Ground, Low Income Housing Institute, NAACP Seattle-KC, and King County Democrats.

Submitted by: Frank Chopp, Tye Reed, Brandon Hersey,

Over four decades, we have worked on and coordinated campaigns to preserve and expand Seattle’s low-income housing stock. Despite the sponsor’s good intentions, we urge you to vote no.

I-135 calls on the city to create, staff, and fund another development entity to produce “mixed-income” housing. More than three dozen non-profits, religious, and public development authorities have been doing this successfully for decades. Creating another agency to compete for scarce housing dollars that costs several million to set it up before one housing unit is produced doesn’t make sense. I-135 comes with no new funding source. It diverts attention from what’s most important – passing a new housing levy this fall and finding millions more necessary to overcome the shortfall of needed low-cost units.

Several housing agencies already are creating “social housing” through tenant-owned co-ops, land trusts, and mutual housing serving low-income households in perpetuity. Initiative sponsors could have proposed dedicating more city housing dollars for these efforts instead of public-private partnerships they disavow.

The city’s housing priority must be the 50,000 households below 50% of median and 12,000 homeless with little or no income – not prioritizing mixed income including housing to 120% of median. Vote no on I-135.

Submitted by: Alice Woldt, David Bloom, John V. Fox,

Unfortunately, Seattle’s housing levy alone won’t solve our housing crisis. It’s clear to us all —including the homelessness and housing providers that endorse I-135—that we need additional affordable housing models.

I-135 explicitly prohibits taking funds from current affordable housing. This self-financing housing will serve low-income and middle-income Seattleites. It's a public good for residents struggling with housing costs and who may be one rent increase away from leaving our city. Vote Yes on I-135.  

Submitted by: Frank Chopp, Tye Reed, Brandon Hersey,

The Maryland model that I-135 seeks to emulate has for decades required millions in public funding for staffing, unit maintenance, and financing its projects. I-135 is an open-ended unfunded mandate saddling government indefinitely, requiring millions for “mixed-income” projects including high-priced rentals - which many agencies already do.  Allowing the new agency to acquire existing unsubsidized low-income apartments and convert them to higher-income units when tenants move out, only contributes to our low-income housing shortage.

Submitted by: Alice Woldt, David Bloom, John V. Fox,

Simple majority (City of Seattle Charter, art. IV, sec. 1(F))

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

36 en-US Production

TTY: Relay 711

Sign up for email or text notifications