Seattle reveals first affordable housing project funded by JumpStart tax
After a rocky beginning, the controversial JumpStart Seattle tax is producing tangible results for the city. Seattle City Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda recently unveiled a list of 17 organizations that have received funds from the tax, resulting in over 1,700 new units of affordable housing.
The JumpStart tax began collecting revenue in January 2021, taxing salaries over $150,000 per year at companies that spend over $7 million on payroll annually. While this proved unpopular with local employers like Amazon and the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, the tax has survived a lawsuit and efforts to overturn it. Thanks to the large presence of tech, information and business services in the city, the JumpStart tax raised $248.1 million in its first year alone — far surpassing the estimated $200 million it was set to raise.
Of that, $80 million has so far gone to fund affordable housing projects in the city. The majority of the money raised from the tax will be used for that purpose, with most of the remainder funding environmental and economic projects, including childcare and job training. The rest will be held in reserve by the city.
This year, the tax is estimated to bring in up to $277 million, further supporting new affordable housing projects in the city.
Out of the 17 groups that received funding for the first round of projects, the largest is VIA 7, by the Mount Baker Housing Association with 221 homes. After that, the Pacific Hotel rehab by Plymouth Housing will provide 173 units, and then the North Lot project by the Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority with 154 homes.
Several of the housing projects are being completed by organizations dedicated to serving historically marginalized communities. Ideally, this will help to alleviate some of the housing shortages for these vulnerable populations.
Since the JumpStart tax’s rocky beginning, it has had a profound impact on nonprofits in the area and created new housing opportunities in the densely populated city. It remains to be seen what else the funds can achieve in the next few years.