The author, Debora Juarez, represents North Seattle on the Seattle City Council. Along with her colleagues, Juarez supports the housing levy on your August 2 ballot.
The author, Debora Juarez, represents North Seattle on the Seattle City Council. Along with her colleagues, Juarez supports the housing levy on your August 2 ballot. City of Seattle

The Stranger’s Election Control Board said it best: "This is an emergency, full stop." The "emergency" in question is Seattle’s worsening affordability crisis. A critical part of the solution is Seattle’s Housing Levy, Proposition 1 on your August 2nd primary ballot. There is no better time than now to renew and expand a public investment with a proven 35-year track record of success.

Proposition 1 will make a real difference. The levy will produce and preserve at least 2,150 permanently affordable, rent-restricted homes in Seattle for individuals and families earning 60 percent or below of the Area Median Income (AMI). These are our city’s social workers, preschool teachers, medical assistants—lower-income residents who are finding themselves increasingly cost-burdened and in danger of having to look outside of the city for an affordable place to live. We can’t let ourselves become a city where only those who make the most are able to live near jobs, urban centers, and transit.

Proposition 1 also increases our investment in supportive housing for our neighbors exiting homelessness. The Housing First approach really works, but it requires strong upfront capital investment. By voting yes on Prop 1 you are supporting more housing specifically directed to the lowest-income members of our community.

Another proven successful component of the housing levy is the emergency rental assistance program. Designed to provide short-term support to households that are at imminent risk of eviction due to being severely cost burdened, this program has a strong history of success.

Since 2002, 6,500 households have received this support and, with additional support for these families to find and move into a more sustainable housing situation, 83 percent continued to be in stable housing six months after their support ended. Proposition 1 continues and expands this program with funding for 4,500 households over the next seven years because the best way to reduce homelessness is to prevent it in the first place.

You may have heard the opposition’s contradictory claims: Proposition 1 is both too small and raises taxes too much, or, Proposition 1 funds too many different programs and should have even more programs funded with higher taxes.

None of these attacks make much sense. The truth is, through six mayoral administrations, Seattle’s housing levy has delivered real and lasting results. This is why hundreds of organizations, elected officials, and community members (along with The Stranger) are supporting Proposition 1. This support includes the mayor and my eight colleagues on the city council, every Democratic legislative district organization in the city, the Housing Development Consortium, the King County Labor Council, the League of Women Voters, the Seattle Human Services Coalition, the Washington Bus, and many others.

Proposition 1 is not going to solve Seattle’s affordability crisis on its own or house all of the people sleeping outdoors, but it’s a key part of the solution. The $290 million the levy raises over seven years will have a major positive impact, delivering substantial benefits at a modest cost. The owner of a typical $480,000 house will pay $122 a year, which is $5 a month more than they are paying under the expiring housing levy. Considering the amount of need in our city, I strongly believe this levy constitutes a reasonable contribution on the part of homeowners like myself.

Proposition 1 is a thoughtful proposal and a good investment that builds on the proven record of success set by the four previous housing levies. We need to do more to keep Seattle affordable for all of our residents. Hospital workers, janitors, baristas, pre-school teachers and folks on fixed incomes must be able to remain in the city. We must also do more to provide housing for the homeless. Please join me in voting YES on Proposition 1 on your August 2 primary ballot.

Debora Juarez is a Seattle City Council member representing North Seattle's District 5.