I like history, but if you want to skip a lesson on policy history, I understand and direct your attention to the third paragraph to learn about Resolution 28747.
When the City of Tacoma adopted the Affordable Housing Action Strategy in 2018, one of the primary items it called for was the establishment of an affordable housing fund (AHF) and the development a permanent source of funding for that AHF. While the City established the AHF with an initial general fund allocation of $1.2 million in the 2019-2020 biennial budget and renewed that commitment in the 2020-2021 budget with an additional $1.0 million investment, general fund allocations are not a permanent source of funding.
The state legislature has provided local municipalities with a number options for permanent or semi-permanent funding for affordable housing funds. House Bill 1562 from the 1993 session allows municipalities to ask voters to approve a property tax levy to support affordable housing. House Bill 1406, passed in 2019, allowing municipalities to retain a small portion of the state’s sales tax to support affordable housing. Passed in 2020, House Bill 1590 allows for a 1/10th of 1% sales tax levy to be enacted, by a vote of the Council, to support affordable housing and behavioral health needs in a community. The City of Tacoma and Pierce County both opted to utilize HB 1406 to retain a portion of the state’s sales tax and though important, this funding is relatively small. (Note that HB1406 did not increase sales tax.) Enacting HB 1590 would allow the City of Tacoma to raise $4.5 – $5.5 million annually to support affordable housing, and this brings us to the coming week.
The City of Tacoma Council will hear Ordinance 28747 on Tuesday, March 23rd, 2021. This ordinance would utilize their authority to impose a 1/10th of 1% sales tax to support construction of affordable housing, construction of behavioral health facilities, housing services, and operations of housing, facilities where housing programs are provided, and newly constructed evaluation and treatment centers. Only households earning under 60% of the area median income (AMI) and specific populations (persons with behavioral health disabilities; Veterans; homeless, or at-risk of being homeless, families with children; homeless youth or young adults; persons with disabilities; or domestic violence survivors) are able to be served with these funds.
This funding source is a key piece of the City of Tacoma’s efforts to address the human suffering and public health crisis that our homeless population represents, and it is for this reason that Habitat for Humanity supports the passage of Ordinance 28747 and we ask that our community offer the same support.
Call to action
If you’d like to offer your support, we encourage you to do one of two things:
- Email your Tacoma City Councilmember, the At-Large members, and Mayor Woodards to let them know your support. Click HERE to find out who represents you, and then click HERE to find their contact information.
- Testify at the upcoming City Council hearing. It’s at 5:00 pm on Tuesday, March 23rd. The City has an easy-to-understand process for folks to participate remotely. Learn how to use your voice HERE and support this important ordinance.
To learn more about Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity’s legislative agenda, visit our Advocate page and/or join our Advocacy update list.
Pictured: Tacoma City Council, courtesy of the City of Tacoma