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.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@bellevuereporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.bellevuereporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

Photo courtesy of the Bellevue Fire Department Twitter page
Mercer Island Marine Patrol recovers Bellevue man who drowned in Lake Washington

Mercer Island’s Marine Patrol recovered an adult male who drowned in Lake… Continue reading

Photo courtesy of the Bellevue Fire Department Twitter page
Bellevue, Mercer Island emergency responders search for missing man in Lake Washington

Staff Report Members of the Mercer Island Police Department (MIPD) Marine Patrol… Continue reading

Freshwater variety of kokanee salmon from Lake Sammamish. 	File photo
Researchers track ‘mysterious’ kokanee salmon in region

Kokanee in Lake Washington and Sammamish are genetically unique. Over the past decades, their numbers have dwindled.

A protective mask hanging on a front door. (Sound Publishing file photo)
King County to lift indoor mask mandate on June 29

About 1.3 million county residents have completed their COVID-19 vaccine series.

File photo
King County leaders propose emergency funding for gun violence prevention initiative

Sixty-nine people were reportedly shot during the first quarter of 2021.

Pills taken during police investigation (photo credit: Bellevue Police)
Renton man charged with homicide after selling fentanyl pills to a Bellevue woman

Law enforcement warns of an alarming increase in fentanyl deaths.

t
Bellevue shines in fastpitch and lacrosse action

Bellevue fastpitch hurler Rachel Treves fires away during the Wolverines’ 11-1 victory… Continue reading

Photos by Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing
King County Council approves $631 million emergency COVID budget

Staff reports The King County Council approved a seventh round of emergency… Continue reading

Flames attack the hillside in Bonney Lake on Sept. 8, 2020. (East Pierce Fire & Rescue photo)
WA firefighters brace for potentially busy weekend

Washington state Department of Natural Resources firefighters were preparing for what could… Continue reading

Most Read