This repeal translates directly into more homelessness in our city and a denial of necessary housing and services for hundreds on the verge of becoming homeless
The news hit suddenly with an announcement by Seattle City Council president, Bruce Harrell, that seven of the nine councilmembers would vote the following afternoon to repeal the office head tax. It translates directly into a loss of tens of millions needed to address our housing and homeless crisis. A measure that for the first time would have marginally moved our tax system in a progressive direction by calling on big business to truly share some of the costs was dropped less than a month after it was approved by a unanimous 9-0 vote. In our 40 years of City Hall watching, we can cite numerous instances of capitulation to pressure from big business but never so suddenly and completely.
Such a colossal and unprecedented flip-flop originated with the Mayor and likely Councilmembers Harrell, Gonzalez, Rob Johnson, Debora Juarez and Sally Bagshaw. Only Gonzalez among CM’s is not up for re-election next year for their district council seats. Flip-flopping like this only adds to a growing disaffection with these councilmembers among their district constituents who already see them, especially Harrell and Johnson, as too beholding to their key downtown, developer, and big business backers who contribute tens of thousands to get them elected.
But the two councilmembers who stand to lose the most politically given their vote backing repeal, are CM’s Herbold and O’Brien because they risk greatly alienating their progressive base and core supporters. Their action will never garner them support from big business nor get the the Times endorsement. And no matter what they may have been offered in return behind the scenes, it likely won’t offset the disaffection felt by many of their backers – that instead of joining Sawant and Mosqueda and leading, they caved to pressure.
Here’s our story posted last week before news of repeal and circulating now in Pacific Publishing Newspapers explaining why we so strongly back the head tax and why its removal represents such an extraordinary set-back
Big business finally (would have) shared the costs of growth and addressing homelessness with the head tax
- reprinted from issues this month in Pacific Publishing Newspapers
What’s the perfect recipe for creating even more homelessness in our city? What co-incidence of forces coming into play could screw things up to an even greater degree, forcing still more human beings onto our streets, sidewalks, and alleyways?
Let’s start by eliminating millions of dollars in funding for low-income housing and homeless programs. That’s what city voters would do if they repeal the recently adopted employee head tax that would generate another $48 million dollars per year over five years. Two-thirds of the total would be used to create about 600 permanent low-cost units; the rest would fund more homeless shelters and survival services.
A study recently commissioned by the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce indicates at least another $410 million is needed to make a dent in homelessness, in the form of added shelter and services and moving another 14,000 homeless households into affordable housing. (In reality, the cost of building permanent affordable housing for 14,000 households at the going rate of $250,000 per unit exceeds $5 billion. And simply Continue reading