(This letter was written to the Snohomish County Council. It is being published here at the author’s request)
Dear County Council Members,
Thank you for considering enacting 1590 to support a 0.1% sales tax for constructing affordable housing and its operation.I know this is not an easy decision, but it is absolutely vital for our county’s future and the well-being of our residents.
Market doesn’t build this housing
Private market housing will not produce units that can be affordably rented to residents earning 60% or less of the area median income. Affordable housing requires partnerships and public investment to ensure that our essential workers can find and live in housing that will not be flipped for profit. Enacting this very small tax will give the county vital funds and will unlock significant grant dollars at various levels to create affordable housing in Snohomish County. This will support our economic vitality, bring more jobs, construct housing, and ensure Snohomish County residents can continue to live, work, and recreate in our county.
We pay for it no matter what
Without this tax, and without more affordable housing, we will continue to see growth in housing insecurity, residents experiencing homelessness, and the associated costs of trying to re-shelter our neighbors. These costs manifest in health care, human and social services, and law enforcement costs, which are passed on to all taxpayers. Studies from around the world show what solves housing insecurity and homelessness: a roof over people’s heads.
Our environment demands it
The rural and ex-urban sprawl of the Salish Sea region continues to bulldoze our green-field areas, increasing transportation greenhouse gas emissions and pollutants harming salmon recovery efforts. Not only is sprawl fiscally unsustainable, but the environmental impacts are being seen season after season as our extreme weather events set new records every year. We can reduce “drive to qualify” by using these dollars to build this much-needed housing in our cities so our workers can live nearer where they work, while also reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.
Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to seeing more affordable housing built in cities and areas in need all across Snohomish County.