Spokane City Council Approves Sales and Use Tax for Housing Needs

Lisa Gardner, City Council Communications Director, 509.625.6226

Tuesday, December 1, 2020 at 8:17 a.m.

During Monday night’s legislative session, the Spokane City Council voted 6-1 to adopt a 0.1% sales and use tax by ordinance to provide funding for the construction of affordable housing and housing-related supportive services.

“The lack of affordable housing in Spokane is at a critical level and it needs to be addressed immediately,” says Councilwoman Karen Stratton.  “We either pay for it now or we pay for it later.  These revenues will help us develop more affordable housing choices—not just for lower income populations, but working families, first time homebuyers and a younger generation that simply cannot afford the current average sale price of a home in Spokane today. This is about creating opportunities for homeownership by providing the means and incentives to construct homes that are affordable and attainable.”

“We cannot continue to standby and pretend that we don’t see the large number of people who have been most negatively impacted by the present housing crisis,” says Councilwoman Betsy Wilkerson.  “The historical patterns of discrimination in housing markets and housing policy, including families at risk of homelessness or people of color has gone on for far too long and it is time we change that pattern in eliminating those barriers so that everyone has a fair and equitable opportunity at safe, clean and affordable homes.”

Councilwoman Kate Burke added, “Our ongoing housing crisis unfairly targets low-income individuals and families, veterans, seniors, families/persons of color, and other marginalized groups. As elected leaders, we must do all we can to support the equitable distribution of funds to help our current shortfall. We’ve struggled with this issue for years and we’re running out of time. Our neighbors deserve homes, no matter who they are or where they come from, and the passage of this is a huge step in the right direction.”

In the 2020 session, The Washington state legislature enacted House Bill 1590, which allows cities to adopt 0.1% sales and use tax by ordinance to provide funding for the construction of affordable housing.  Council will establish a housing action sub-committee of residents and stakeholders to provide recommendations to the City Council on the use of the funds derived from this tax and periodically report on the effectiveness.