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Washington State News

Seattle City Council Aims to JumpStart Affordable Housing with $24M in Payroll tax

(The Center Square) – Seattle City Council passed the JumpStart Housing Community Self-Determination Fund unanimously.

The ordinance, sponsored by Seattle City Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, would take revenue from the JumpStart payroll tax to support community-based organizations building housing “to address displacement, redress the longstanding harms of discriminatory lending practices, and advance equitable development,” according to a news release from Mosqueda Tuesday.

“The JumpStart Housing Community Self-Determination Fund will help organizations acquire land, build housing, couple housing with needed services, create educational programs, small business opportunities, community and cultural space and build organizational capacity so that communities are the developers and owners of their own destinies,” Mosqueda said.

An estimated $24 million would be annually available for this effort to reduce displacement in the city if the ordinance is signed by Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell. This is because the ordinance would take 10% of available JumpStart revenue, which brought in $231 million in its first year.

Potential partner organizations to benefit from this fund include: Africatown Community Land Trust, Chief Seattle Club, Filipino Community of Seattle, El Centro de la Raza, Mt. Zion and the Seattle Chinatown International District Public Development Authority amongst many other community-based organizations.

Velma Veloria works with the Filipino Community Center. She said that this ordinance would give small organizations a chance to provide low income housing to those in need within the city.

“We had a landowner who was ready to sell his property and offered the Filipino Community of Seattle first refusal to buy it, but requirements in existing funds were a roadblock and we did not have the needed funds to buy the land,” Veloria said. “With the JumpStart Community Self-Determination Fund, we will be able to buy the land and have time to create a plan for affordable housing there and build our organizational capacity for future projects to serve the community.”

Within the JumpStart Housing Community Self-Determination Fund, up to $2 million annually will be put aside for third party intermediaries that will administer the JumpStart Community-Based Organization Capacity and Grant Program.

If enacted, the ordinance would immediately offer grants worth up to $250,000 for capacity building activities as part of its phase one plan.

The ordinance would go into effect 30 days after Harrell’s signature. He has yet indicated his intention to sign or veto it.