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November 3, 2009 at 9:46 PM

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Seattle overwhelmingly passes affordable-housing levy

Posted by Marc Ramirez

At Capitol Hill’s Sole Repair, campaign workers were ecstatic over the success of Proposition 1, the city of Seattle affordable-housing levy that looked to be headed to easy victory with 63 percent of the vote.

“Everybody really got behind us this year,” said Anna Markee, Seattle outreach director for the Housing Development Consortium of Seattle-King County. “I think people in Seattle are compassionate and they understand how affordable housing benefits our entire community. And they understand that especially now, we need it more than ever.”

The seven-year, $145 million measure passed despite the ongoing economic crunch, making it the fifth affordable-housing levy in a row to be passed by Seattle voters.

Markee credited the Yes For Homes campaign, which sidestepped more expensive TV and radio ads in favor of old-fashioned door-belling and phone-banking, targeted mostly to a female voting bloc. "Our real strong supporters were frequently-voting older women," she said.

The levy will cost homeowners about $17 per $100,000 of assessed property value annually. That amounts to about $79 a year for an average Seattle home with an assessed value of at $460,000.

Most of the levy — about $104 million — will help build or save 1,670 apartment units, with more than half of those funds aimed at housing for renters those earning less than 30 percent of the city’s median annual income.

Other money would provide assistance to 550 renters annually, help fund 180 first-time home purchases and allow the city’s Office of Housing to buy land or buildings for future development.

The Yes for Homes campaign, with $333,000 in funding from a variety of low-income advocacy groups and financial institutions, faced no real opposition.

“We had an incredible field campaign,” Markee said. “It was this real quiet thing. We had little media coverage. We just kept working hard and making our phone calls.”

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Jim Brunner
Covers politics.

Keith Ervin
Covers the Eastside.

Andrew Garber
Covers politics and state government from Olympia.

Emily Heffter
Covers local government.

Mike Lindblom
Covers transportation.

Kyung Song
Covers politics and regional issues from Washington, D.C.

Lynn Thompson
Covers Seattle City Hall.

Bob Young
Covers King County and urban affairs.