YouthCare endorses the King County Health Through Housing proposal and we urge you to support it too.
The Health Through Housing proposal will implement a 0.1% sales tax across King County for affordable housing and behavioral health treatment. Current forecasts estimate the tax will generate approximately $65-70 million a year, with the goal of housing 2,000 people experiencing chronic homelessness by 2022.
YouthCare has advocated for progressive revenue reform for years. We recognize that this tax represents yet another regressive revenue measure that disproportionally impacts low-income residents. Yet we cannot ignore that we are still in the midst of a deadly pandemic. Ensuring people have a safe place to shelter indoors, away from the elements, and away from the virus, has never been more important. This is an emergency and we must act with urgency.
Despite its regressive structure, we appreciate that racial equity is baked into the proposal and that the funding is intended to serve those who are disproportionately most vulnerable in our community. We are also pleased to see more flexibility around the definition of chronic homelessness and at-risk of chronic homelessness, as well as the intention to support people who have been previously incarcerated or involuntarily detained.
COVID-19 has made it crystal clear that housing is healthcare—and that our health, as individuals, is inextricably tied to our health as a community.
This proposal is an investment in us all. We urge King County Council to pass it.