I am writing to voice my strong support for an Employee Hours Tax on our city’s largest businesses that will raise at least $75 million per year for housing and homelessness services. Our faith communities have been at the forefront of the response to homelessness and the development of low-income housing units during Seattle’s times of greatest growth. Our collective response to the unprecedented levels of people experiencing homelessness in our midst requires creative and extraordinary measures. Approving a progressive revenue source will alleviate suffering, save lives and move us closer to achieving the faith value of a sufficient, sustainable livelihood for all in our city.
As a person of faith, I see homelessness in light of the lack of affordable housing and access to important services and living wage jobs. Even with greater levels of networking of service providers through Coordinated Entry for All and low-barrier shelters, the fact remains that our low-income housing shortfall for 2016 remained at 17,161 units, expected to go to 27,481 by 2030. Combined with some of the highest rents – and rates of increase – in the United States and ongoing displacement of affordable units, a new paradigm of funding is necessary to help turn the tide on homelessness.
Our response to homelessness is also connected to the scandal of economic inequality. This is seen especially in our state’s most regressive tax system. An Employee Hours Tax, raising $75 million – 80% for low-income building and operation of housing and 20% for shelter and survival services - is not only a progressive tax, it is a just measure for the common good in our city and region.
Making a significant difference in our housing and homelessness crisis will require a multi-year investment of significant new revenue. I ask for your partnership to ensure that there is enough dedicated, affordable housing to bring and to keep our lowest-income neighbors inside and to ensure that people have access to shelter and services to stay safe and stable.
Please support this legislation as a down payment on our city’s future vitality for all its residents.