The remains of a fire at the Field homeless encampment on February 11, 2017. Photo by Cory Potts.

Murray Announces $55 Million Tax Measure for Homeless Services

The measure, which would need the approval of voters, could be on the August ballot.

For months, Mayor Ed Murray has hinted that a new property tax measure may come before voters to help fund homeless services.

This morning, during his annual state of the city address, Murray said he hopes to have plan on a ballot by August.

Murray said that a coalition of local entrepreneur Nick Hanauer, Downtown Emergency Services Center executive director Daniel Malone, and Councilmembers Debora Juarez and Sally Bashaw, will lead an advisory group that will build a funding package within 14 days.

He said he wants the package to raise an additional $55 million per year, “paid for by an increase in the commercial and residential property tax—around $13 per month for the median household.”

He says he wants the measure qualified to appear on the August ballot.

As Murray himself made clear during the speech, it will not be the first time his administration and the city council have gone to the voters for more money in recent years. Under Murray’s watch, Seattle has passed Move Seattle, a massive transportation levy; doubled the Seattle Housing Levy; and has created a new Parks District. Seattle also led the region to passing the massive Sound Transit 3 plan.

Murray also called on private entities to do more to help solve homelessness in Seattle. Borrowing from the high-tech lexicon, he challenged Seattle businesses to raise $25 million over the next five years “focused on disruptive innovations that will get more homeless individuals and families into housing.”

“Our businesses, who are reaping the rewards of our booming city, must join our new public commitment and help those who are in need,” Murray said, according to prepared remarks.

dperson@seattleweekly.com

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