Residents in Seattle have voted once again to raise the cost of housing to lower the cost of housing. Although it sounds like a contradiction, it only is if you are new to the formerly sparkling Emerald City. In Seattle, a robust liberal ethos prevails, with a trend of endorsing any proposal that falls in the category of progressivism.
Consider the Seattle Housing Levy as a case in point: a massive program of almost $1 billion earmarked for the construction of affordable housing. The levy extended a pre-existing tax from 2016; it more than tripled the tax rate from 14 cents to 45 cents per $1,000 of a property’s assessed value.
Foreseeably, the levy passed with early voting results showing a majority of 66% support. The only solid number the levy commits to is a minimal 3,200 new rental home constructions.
While it helps construct some affordable housing, it additionally increases the cost of the housing. Homeowners will see property bills surge by around $400 annually. Tenants will not be spared either, as increased rents pass along the tax hikes.
Adding insult to injury, the levy will also allocate $30 million for rental assistance to 4,500 tenants, yet the administrative costs to implement it are twice as much.
Seattle is a city where the median home price has soared to $800,000 and where a surge in homicides and record-high fatal overdoses have flawed the previous year’s statistics.
The trend mirrors the distressing trajectory of other cities that are Democrat-run, where residents pay a premium to live in deteriorating areas thanks to extreme-left policies.
Progressives believe housing is an inalienable right
The conviction of progressives is that housing is an inalienable human right. They use the belief to justify the heavy-handedness of governmental interference in the housing market.
Despite evidence that increased taxes and regulation have driven the cost of living to absurd heights, the far left remains steadfast in their belief in demanding higher taxes, cleverly sidestepping the fact that all of us are already paying more than our “fair share.”
Landlords are frequently misperceived as wealthy but only trying to earn a living while continuing to provide affordable housing. However, they find themselves overburdened by a system that favors tenants disproportionately, including those playing the system.
Seattle Grassroots Landlords is a local group of around 600 that connect on social media to “support each other and to prevent the ongoing degradation of rental housing options in Seattle.”
According to independent Seattle landlord Charlotte Thistle, 17 new laws implemented state and citywide over the past three years have made the job almost impossible. She emphasized the bureaucratic maze that can result in a yearlong process and $20,000 in legal fees to remove a disruptive occupant.
Another landlord, Jason Roth, learned the hard way. After Roth’s tenant allegedly discontinued paying rent, sublet the property on Airbnb, and then bragged about his exploits on social media, the owner found himself homeless, with the court case to evict the ‘tenant’ postponed for months because of the tenant’s claims of being low-income. The declaration triggered the system to offer him even more benefits.
Roth and Thistle’s experiences have prompted them and many others to pull their properties off the market. In a state that penalizes property ownership, the exodus of landlords only inflates rental costs further.
The response from Democrats is to continue to pour tax dollars into affordable housing, but there is an issue with relying on the wealthy to “pay their fair share” (if there is any definition). The result — they leave.
Founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, announced this month he is leaving the Seattle area for Miami.
Democrats in Washington passed a statewide capital gains tax and convinced the state Supreme Court to redefine income taxes, which are unconstitutional in Seattle, to get more tax dollars from the wealthy.
They claimed (bizarrely) that it’s an excise tax before justifying their position by arguing the new definition is a necessity because Washington’s “upside-down tax system perpetuates systemic racism by placing a disproportionate tax burden on BIPOC residents.”
Before the implementation of the tax, Bezos sold over 1.3 million shares of Amazon, which spared him around $1.1 billion in taxes. In Florida, he won’t have to worry about it. In addition, Seattle wants to implement another capital gains tax, while Democrats in the legislature are eyeing a wealth tax.
Democrats believe and continue to proclaim the homelessness crisis is because of the high prices of homes. But they also think landlords and housing developers are privileged, wealthy, and greedy. This perspective has led to a reliance on government agencies to manage housing “the right way” and punitive regulations.
However, little evidence suggests the measures are making the housing market more accessible. Instead, the situation continues to deteriorate.
Maybe if the liberals stopped “helping” so much and allowed the market to operate with fewer roadblocks, there would be housing for everybody. However, voters in Seattle seem eager to keep blocking progress with more taxes.