Making Investments in Affordable Housing

Those of us in local government often look to the state for assistance in providing services to our residents. Counties have limited capacity to raise money for needs such as police, courts, jail, prosecutions, indigent defense, juvenile court, senior services, veteran services, roads, sewers, storm water runoff, parks, housing and homelessness services, and much more. People are being priced out of renting or buying a home, and it is becoming very apparent that affordable housing is a major concern for all our communities.

The state has stepped-up by-passing SHB 1406 and has given those of us in local government a tool to help with the affordable housing crisis we face. All of us pay a sales and use tax on items we purchase with exception on food products. A portion of this tax goes to the state. SHB 1406 shifts a portion of the state’s tax back to local government allowing cities and counties to make local investments in affordable housing. These funds must target housing and programs serving those below 60% median income. Funds can be used for acquiring, rehabilitating or construction of housing, as well as operations and maintenance of new affordable, or supportive housing facilities.

To take advantage of this funding source the Council passed a resolution of intent and Ordinance 2019-57s that will allow for this shift of the sales and use tax. This is not an increase in tax. You will not see any changes at the cash register due to this legislation. Think of this as us bringing your money back to the County. Some may even call it bringing home the bacon.