Social housing is not a panacea for Seattle’s ongoing housing affordability crisis. But it is one more tool the city can use to help alleviate ever-climbing rental prices. We need every possible solution we can get our hands on if our city ever hopes to be a more affordable place to live.
Vote YES on I-135. Ballots are due February 14, and this one only has this single issue, making it the easiest ballot to complete in years.
The social housing concept is simple. If a public agency were in charge of leasing more homes, then fewer people would be harmed or trapped by the exploitative rents charged by for-profit landlords and, increasingly, rental market speculation companies. There are plenty of cities around the world where a lot of the housing available for rent is owned and operated by a public agency, but the concept is somewhat unfamiliar around these parts. This is a chance for Seattle to be a leader.
I-135 does not include funding (state law prohibits ballot measures from doing multiple things in the same initiative). Instead, it would create the Seattle Social Housing Developer, a new public agency with the power to buy, build and maintain housing. Efforts to fund the agency’s work would need to come in a future step. So let’s approve I-135 to get the agency on its feet.
Seattle Neighborhood Greenways is hosting a volunteer phone bank to get out the vote for I-135 starting 6 p.m. February 6. It’s virtual, so you can participate remotely.
Here’s a video from the House Our Neighbors campaign explaining how the finances would work: