Upthegrove supports $400 million county investment in supportive housing

Additional sales tax of 0.1% would fund program

King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove announced his support for a plan to provide up to $400 million in funding for safe, supportive housing.

The plan would provide almost 2,000 homeless individuals with housing and the social supports they need to get back on their feet. According to the 2020 Count Us In tally, taken in late January, 1,115 individuals in South King County did not have a roof over their head and another 822 were living in temporary shelters.

“We know that safe and stable housing can turn a person’s life around,” Upthegrove said in a Sept. 23 news release. “Housing is a basic human right and I’m excited to work with the county executive and our South King County cities to find permanent homes for those who are sleeping on the streets.”

The option to pursue the funding was provided by the Legislature in the 2020 session with the passage of House Bill 1590 allowing counties to add 0.1% to the sales tax to fund building or renovating property for housing. The county will bond against a portion of the money raised ensuring immediate access to up to $400 million. The ongoing funding will provide mental health support, addiction services and other onsite support for the residents.

The county will take advantage of a current surplus of affordable nursing home and hotel properties to move quickly on securing these facilities for housing at currently low market rates. Instead of waiting several years and paying the high cost to build new housing, the county will move people into housing immediately. King County will work with interested cities, as the housing would need to be permitted by each city in which it is located.

A slight change to the state legislation will be necessary to ensure King County can purchase, rather than build or renovate existing housing.

“2020 has been a challenging year but it has also fostered innovative solutions to address community needs,” said Upthegrove, whose District 5 includes parts of Kent. “We need to embrace creative problem-solving and use every option to create the kind of community we want – one where everyone has a home and the support they need to succeed.”




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