Every day as I walk or take the bus to and from work, my heart breaks when I see people living on the streets desperately trying to survive.
Since arriving at the King County Council in January of 2016, I have been working continuously on policies to secure investments aimed at getting people into stable and affordable housing, especially families with children. Our work is far from over.
After scrutinizing the proposal closely, deliberating with my colleagues and meeting with stakeholders from the community and the Seattle Mariners, I have decided to no longer co-sponsor Motion 2018-0266 – the Executive’s proposal for how to expend Hotel/Motel tax revenues beginning in 2021. Instead, I will be offering an amendment that would massively boost the proposal’s investment in affordable housing by $184 million, bringing the total amount of money for affordable housing and services for homeless youth to $660 million.
Even though I believe the Executive’s proposal to fund up to $190 million for maintenance at Safeco Field is simply the wrong amount at the wrong time, I do support the County’s dedicating some level of funding for Safeco Field maintenance.
The bottom line is our region is experiencing a major housing crisis. If a government declares something a state of emergency, then the public deserves to have its elected officials act accordingly.
I continue to believe this does not have to be an “either/or” argument. We can strike the right balance and find a way to meet the Mariners’ stated basic maintenance needs for Safeco Field while also acknowledging the immense, immediate need to address our housing crisis.
We can also recognize the importance of our tourism industry and maintain a consistent revenue stream that will continue to attract visitors to our region, which in turn generates revenue for important county services and programs. I believe my proposal meets these goals.
Under the terms of my proposed amendment, 52 percent of the Hotel/Motel Lodging Tax would be dedicated to affordable housing, up from the 37.5 percent minimum requirement under state law in the current plan, which represents an increase of $184 million in new funding for housing.
This additional investment would be funded by a decrease in the tourism portion of the existing plan, including cuts to the Mariners stadium funding proposal, which would be reduced from approximately $180 million to $25 million which, I believe, is the amount to cover basic maintenance needs.
The arts, culture, and heritage portion of the proposal would remain at the minimum mandated by state law (37.5 percent).
The next opportunity for public testimony on this motion will be on August 29 at 9:30 A.M. in the Committee of the Whole. Click here to find upcoming meeting agendas. And I have requested that an additional evening meeting be held in order for working people to be able to attend. I encourage you to participate.