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@redmond-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.redmond-reporter.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

File photo
Do you need to pay for your COVID hospital stay?

Washington state law requires hospitals to provide free care for certain income brackets.

Stock photo
State AG Ferguson leads effort supporting local journalism

Federal legislation offers tax credits to subscribers, businesses and news organizations

C-17 at Joint Base Lewis McChord airstrip (courtesy of United States Military)
King County councilmember proposes program to aid transition of Afghan interpreters who served the U.S. overseas

Program would provide job training and learning opportunities for Afghan interpreters and advisors.

Vaccinations taking place. File photo
Inslee: No ‘massive disruptions’ as worker vax rates hit 90%

A surge in vaccinations has eased concern about service slowdowns ahead of a Monday deadline.

King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert (file photo)
Lambert removed from King County Council leadership roles

Lambert received backlash after her campaign used flyers that depicted her opponent as a puppet.

Union members picket in front of new Facebook campus in Redmond on Sept. 16 (photo by Cameron Sheppard)
Northwest Carpenters Union members vote to accept contract with AGC

The agreement comes after weeks of striking.

King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert (file photo)
After doubling down on “racist” flyer, Lambert publicly apologizes

Apology encouraged by King County Council colleagues.

Pixabay image
School psychologist among three charged with immoral communication with a minor

Redmond detectives conducted an online predator sting using fake profiles.

Courtesy of King County Police Officers Guild
Office lacks power over King County law enforcement in misconduct investigations

Director Tamer Abouzeid presents OLEO annual report to law and justice committee on Tuesday.

Most Read