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@rentonreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.rentonreporter.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

T
Use your King County library card to explore the outdoors

KCLS cardholders can check out a Discover Pass for two weeks to explore public lands.

Monkeypox virus. Photo courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control.
King County identifies first presumptive monkeypox case

The illness is not as easily transmitted compared to COVID-19, according to health officer.

This screenshot from Auburn Police Department bodycam footage shows an officer about to fire his weapon and kill dog on May 13, 2022.
Auburn police shoot dog, and owner claims it wasn’t justified

See videos of attack as well as bodycam footage of officer firing at dog.

File photo.
King County Council approves creation of Cannabis Safety Taskforce amid rash of dispensary robberies

The multi-agency task force will cooperate to find ways to improve safety in the cash-only industry.

File photo.
Renton man pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from hair salon robbery in Seattle

Investigators say the man stole $55,000 worth of jewerly and property from someone inside the salon.

U.S. Department of Justice logo.
Renton man sentenced for killing of woman in Olympic National Forest

Authorities say the he brutally beat to death the California woman who he was having an affair with.

Screenshot from GoRenton.com
Registration is open for 7th Annual Renton Career Fair

The event will be held at Renton Technical College on June 3.

Screenshot from ORCA website
New ORCA system launches for regional transit across the Puget Sound

Overhaul includes new website, mobile application and digital business account manager.

Judged by XII: A King County Local Dive podcast. The hands shown here belong to Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson, who has been charged with homicide in the 2019 death of Jesse Sarey.
JUDGED BY XII (Episode 4): Foster mom wants accountability in Auburn cop’s upcoming murder trial

Special podcast series explores Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson’s role in the death of Jesse Sarey.

Diane Renee Erdmann and Bernard Ross Hansen. Photos courtesy of FBI
FBI arrests Auburn couple after 11-day manhunt

The couple was previously convicted for fraud and skipped sentencing on April 29.

FILE PHOTO: King County Sheriff’s Office deputies.
Dozens of King County Sheriff’s Office employees left jobs instead of getting vaccinated

This added on to the existing number of vacancies in the department.