Build 5,000 Homes in 5 Years

Today we are announcing, alongside the Seattle People’s Party and Councilmember Kshama Sawant, a plan to build 5,000 homes for the homeless in five years. That will effectively end unsheltered homelessness in Seattle. It is time for the belief that housing is a human right to no longer be a noble catchphrase, but a funded policy put into practice.

To fund our proposal to build 5,000 homes in five years, we propose increasing the city’s corporate tax rate by 31 cents on the service sector and by 16 cents on retail businesses. At the same time, we are calling for substantial tax relief for small business owners by raising the Business & Occupation tax exemption from $100,000 to $1 million dollars. This small business tax relief would cover two thirds of all Seattle businesses. Even with the exemption, revenue from the B&O tax will increase by $160 million. By raising taxes on big business and exempting nearly seventy percent of other businesses, we would raise enough revenue to build 5,000 units of deeply affordable housing for the homeless in five years.

Today the city will sweep and displace a group of homeless people from one of the largest encampments in Seattle on Spokane Street. The city has swept over a thousand encampments since announcing a state of emergency two years ago. But after these sweeps, we are still further away from helping our homeless neighbors find homes. The city’s policy of sweeps only achieves circular displacement while not addressing the core of our homelessness crisis: a desperate need for more affordable housing.

We know we need bolder solutions to help our homeless neighbors and our community as a whole. We know that the status quo is not cutting it. Seattle had a ten-year plan to end homelessness that already came and went. But in 2017, more than 8,500 people were homeless in Seattle, including nearly 4,000 people sleeping unsheltered. The city administration continues to push forward stale policies that fall short, and something fundamentally must change.

Seattleites have been more than generous with taxing themselves with levy after levy. But property taxes can be regressive, especially for low-income and fixed-income homeowners. This proposal ensures that big business will pay its fair share. We know that companies like Amazon are driving up housing prices, and as one of the wealthiest corporations in the world, they can afford to do more.

Furthermore, our campaign endorses the housing and shelter platform announced this Saturday by the Housing For All campaign. Our new revenue proposal is intended to be a first major step to realizing the goals of that campaign. We need people who have lived through homelessness, who understand the challenges and its experience, to help us develop policy. That’s why my campaign will work diligently with the Housing For All campaign to fundamentally change how the city responds to homelessness.