Robert Allen, 61, had never been homeless in his life before 2019, when he lost his housing. The chef has been trying to get back on his feet, and hopes to open a nonprofit and make hot sauce. File photo

Robert Allen, 61, had never been homeless in his life before 2019, when he lost his housing. The chef has been trying to get back on his feet, and hopes to open a nonprofit and make hot sauce. File photo

King County implements 0.01% sales tax to raise money for housing the homeless

Officials plan to buy hotels, motels and nursing homes for conversion into permanent housing.

This year, through the Health Through Housing Initiative, King County has begun collecting a 1/10th of penny in an additional sales tax in order to raise money to purchase hotels, motels and nursing homes to house the “chronically homeless.”

The King County Council passed the initiative in October 2020 and the policy is expected to house roughly 2,000 people by October 2022. According to the Homeless Management Information Service, there are close to 4,500 “chronically homeless” people in King County.

The bonded proceeds brought in by the new sales tax are expected to bring more than $50 million into the Health Through Housing Fund in one year and over $400 million in the next six years, according to King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn.

Dunn described the county’s previous efforts to reduce homelessness as “disorganized” and “disjointed,” as the county has spent hundreds of millions of dollars toward the issue with little results to show.

Dunn said the Seattle metropolitan area has become a “dead-end street” for the nation’s homeless problem as they continue to offer services and benefits to the homeless population that he says only encourages the homeless from other areas to flock to the area.

“We have a moral obligation to create a broad and robust safety net,” Dunn said. “But for the homeless from our own communities.”

King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove said he likes the Health Through Housing Initiative because of its elegant simplicity. He said he felt like the county’s previously attempted solutions were bogged down in bureaucracy without actually providing enough housing.

“Why don’t we just build some damn housing,” Upthegrove said he used to joke with colleagues.

Upthegove said he feels like this initiative will create housing quickly, affordably and at a scale that is meaningful.

“This gets people off the street,” he said.

The building purchased will first be converted into “emergency housing,” before being made into “permanent supportive housing,” according to Upthegrove.

The executive branch of the county government has until the end of June to submit an implementation plan for the initiative to be approved by the council. Upthegrove said the implementation will be managed by the King County Department of Community and Human Services.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@auburn-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.auburn-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

File photo
APD looking for one more member for the Police Advisory Committee

The city of Auburn formed its Police Advisory Committee last fall to… Continue reading

In Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s reopening plan, which was announced Jan. 28, restaurants can reopen at a maximum 25% capacity and a limit of six people per table. Inslee recently announced all counties will be staying in Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan for the next several weeks. Pictured: People enjoy outdoor dining last summer in downtown Kent. Courtesy photo
Inslee: All of Washington to stay in Phase 2 for a few weeks

The governor issued a weekslong pause on regions moving backward, but has yet to outline a Phase 3.

Entrance to the Tukwila Library branch of the King County Library System. File photo
King County libraries will reopen in some cities for in-person services

Fall City, Kent libraries among six selected for partial reopening.

File photo
Men punch women in the face | Police blotter

Auburn Police responded to the following calls for service, among many others,… Continue reading

Courtesy photo
Nine adults and one infant were displaced in fire | Fire blotter

Between Feb. 15 and Feb. 22, the Valley Regional Fire Authority responded… Continue reading

File photo
Prosecutor charges two men in severe beating involving croquet mallet

Auburn Police reported that on the afternoon of Feb. 15, Theodore Michael… Continue reading

A South King Fire & Rescue firefighter places a used test swab into a secure COVID test vial on Nov. 18, 2020, at a Federal Way testing site. (Sound Publishing file photo)
Masks are still king in combating new COVID strains

A top UW doctor talks new strains, masks and when normal could return.

Washington State Capitol Building in Olympia. File photo
Democrats look to allow noncitizens to serve on school boards

A Senate bill takes aim at a state law requiring anyone seeking elected office to be a citizen.

A CVS pharmacist prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at Village Green Retirement Campus in Federal Way on Jan. 26. Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing
State health leader: We have a plan, we don’t have the supply

Two months after the COVID vaccine landed in Washington, many still struggle to secure their shots.

Most Read