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Originally published October 18, 2009 at 4:00 PM | Page modified October 18, 2009 at 4:47 PM

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Support the 2009 Seattle housing levy

The $145 million, seven-year 2009 Seattle housing levy continues a community commitment to safe, affordable housing that began with the first voter-approved levy in 1981.

SEATTLE voters approved four housing levies from 1981 through 2002 because they understood and appreciated the value of a mix of affordable housing across the city. The $145 million, seven-year 2009 housing levy is worthy of similar support.

Over the years, the steady performance of the housing levies has been the best promotional boost for each successive request. Every goal for housing production or preservation has been exceeded.

For the community, the rewards of a strong housing program are reflected in several ways. Out to 2017, $104 million would be spent to build and renovate apartment buildings for seniors, low-income and moderate-income families and formerly homeless individuals. The seven-year goal is 1,670 units — quality housing that improves the neighborhood along with the lives of the tenants.

Another piece of the levy, $7.9 million, would help maintain and operate apartments used by the community's most needy. The goal is 220 units.

Rental assistance totaling $4.2 million will help keep roofs over the heads of low-income households. Already vulnerable tenants are at extra risk during a tough economy. This targeted aid helps keep people off the street.

A final category provides $9 million to moderate-income, first-time homebuyers for loans to help with a down payment. The financial aid comes with financial counseling and guidance toward conventional financing.

The housing levies have a social and economic multiplier effect. As in the past, the 2009 levy will attract public and private investment in the community, and create thousands of jobs.

New and rehabilitated housing improves surrounding neighborhoods. Adequately sheltering city residents makes for a safer, more stable community.

All of these factors combined have drawn continued, enthusiastic support from the business community via the Downtown Seattle Association. Seattle City Councilmember Tim Burgess, who seeks to make downtown Seattle a safe, comfortable place to live, work and visit, is a strong supporter of the housing levy. He sees the link between the two.

Management of the housing programs and stewardship of tax dollars have been consistent and vigilant. As Burgess points out, the city Office of Housing is regularly scrutinized by state and federal auditors for financial rigor and programmatic performance.

Since 1981, voter-approved Seattle housing levies have made the community a better place to live. The owner of a median-priced home will pay $65 a year to support another cycle of investment. The levy is strongly endorsed for passage.

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