Help Bring Seattle Home!

Housing For All protesters at City Hall; (Housing For All)

The annual Point In Time Count numbers came out yesterday. 12,112 people experiencing homelessness were counted countywide, a 4 percent increase from last year.  For the first time, over half of those people were sleeping unsheltered, in vehicles, in tents, and on the street.

Experts agree on what works: housing first. Whatever other support a person may need–treatment for addiction, mental and behavioral healthcare, job training–those interventions are most effective when a person is stable and safe, with a roof over their head. 98 percent of survey respondents said they would move into safe and affordable housing if offered, but we just don’t have the housing. The tech boom is driving an insane rental market, and affordable apartments for low and moderate income households are nearly impossible to come by. The bottleneck this creates in the shelter system is leaving thousands stuck in shelter beds for many months or years, and thousands more locked outside.

The McKinsey Report, reports of whose nonexistence were greatly exaggerated, confirms this picture. As explained in the Seattle Times, “Seattle and King County could make the homelessness services system run like a fined-tuned machine, but without dramatically increasing the region’s supply of affordable housing options, solving the region’s homelessness crisis is all but impossible.” The report estimates that King County spending needs to double to $410 million annually to bring its response to the crisis to scale.

So it’s a good thing we have a new progressive revenue source to begin this work, right? The Seattle Progressive Business Tax is projected to raise $47 million per year for the next five years through a tax on the 3% highest-grossing Seattle businesses. This will allow the City to begin making long-overdue investments in deeply affordable housing, expand shelter to help people off the street now, and step up services like garbage clean-up to reduce the impacts of homelessness on neighborhoods.

Oh, wait. Not so fast. Amazon and other mega corporations and developers have mounted a massive campaign to cut that funding.  Even though credit rating agencies say that the tax won’t harm Seattle’s economy, big business interests are intent on crushing it. Apparently they don’t think homelessness is their problem. Their campaign has to gather around 18,000 valid signatures by June 14th to bump the Progressive Business Tax legislation to the ballot. You may have seen their signature gatherers around the city, spreading misinformation to get this legislation repealed.

We are countering their efforts with a voter education campaign called Bring Seattle Home. We need your help to be successful! In addition to not signing the repeal petition (and withdrawing your signature if you did), here are three things you can do in the next two weeks:

With your help, we’re going fight to preserve essential funding for housing and homelessness.

King County’s One Night Unsheltered Count Reaches New High of 6,320

We hope you loved this article. If so, please consider subscribing or donating. The Urbanist is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit that depends on donations from readers like you.

Transit Riders Union (Guest Contributor)

The Transit Riders Union is a democratic organization of working and poor people—including students, seniors and people with disabilities—taking control over our own lives, and building up the power we need to change society for the good of humanity and of the planet. We will fight to preserve, expand, and improve the public transportation system in Seattle and beyond, so that every human being has access to safe, affordable, and reliable public transit.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Here’s some misinformation: Gross revenue doesn’t mean profit. At what point are you guys going to acknowledge that?

Doug Trumm

I didn’t see anything in the article that disputed that? It referred to it as a tax on the 3% highest grossing businesses.


Your claim that the signature gatherers are spreading misinformation, is itself, misinformation. Not one reliable piece of audio or video evidence has been produced to prove that assertion. Not one. The claims made by such ‘organizations’ as the Transit Riders’ Union, Socialist Alternative, SHARE/WHEEL–all of which either will receive funding from the head tax or exist to provide political cover to Kshama Sawant–have no basis in fact.

What is a fact: these groups have attempted to organize an effort to harass and intimidate the many volunteers–the vast majority of the signature gatherers are volunteers–and the people lining up to sign the pro-referendum petition. This is an effort to suppress popular resistance to a tax that is poorly drawn and the passage of which was engineered by the SCC and the ideologically reliable partisans appointed to the “Progressive Revenue Task Force”–none of whom were recognized authorities on homelessness, housing, tax policy, or business economics.

Well, people, your propaganda and efforts to suppress the desire of many Seattle voters to have an opportunity to vote on this issue have failed. Many, many thousands of signatures have been gathered and many thousands more will be gathered in the coming days. People are lining up to sign the petition. Many find it the first opportunity they’ve had to respond to a political process that has been hijacked by Sawant and the various self-interested groups which support her politically. Businesses that were marked for boycott are having the best weeks in their business history, as people patronize them to show their support.

You all have spent so much time in an ideological bubble that you don’t understand how so many people–decent, hard-working, taxpaying citizens of Seattle–could finally rise up and resist the naked authoritarianism and flimsy justification underlying this tax. You’ve sown the wind. Now you’ll reap the whirlwind. We’ll see you in November.


Who cares. The tax repeal is going to get on the ballot and then passed by the voters. Let the Transit Union, Socialist Alternative, and the rest of ’em be petty, trollish, and inaccurate; at the end of the day they’ll be on the losing side.


FWIW the head tax repeal initiative will make it onto the ballot.

Preston Sahabu

Hence the decline to sign campaign.

Mike Carr

That’s an excellent prediction.