Seattle approves 'Amazon Tax' to alleviate city's affordable housing crisis

Share

But the notion of the city council approving the reform which would raise taxes by $75 million annually is something that Amazon is not prepared to entertain which is why they have halted the construction plans and are willing to let go of the space they leased.

Seattle's latest tax proposal to combat homelessness takes aim at large businesses such as Amazon that have helped drive the city's economic boom.

Approved by a vote of 8-1 on the amended version, the measure will go into effect in January 2019 and tax companies that earn $20 million or more in annual sales 14 cents per employee hour, or $275 per employee annually.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, who threatened to veto the original $540 head tax out of concern that it could cost the city good jobs, said Monday evening she would sign the new compromise deal into law. The tax would end after five years with a review in the last year to determine whether or not it should continue.

The full council will take up the head tax at 2 p.m.

Councilwoman Sawant talks a lot about union labor, but in this case, many rank-and-file union members are against the head tax because their jobs (building the new skyscrapers Amazon will inhabit) are dependent on the company staying in the city. As it passed, socialists pushing for a larger tax broke out in a chant: "We'll be back for more!" The e-commerce giant paused construction on one of its office towers and said it is reconsidering occupying another. Amazon's plans in Seattle after today's vote are not clear.

The city's homeless population is growing, behind only NY and Los Angeles.

However, he has a point that needs serious consideration as the city is getting obsessed with the taxing issues than giving proper shelter to the homeless people. A recent audit of King County's response to the crisis gives weight to that view. The Seattle region had the third-highest number of homeless people in the USA and saw 169 homeless deaths in 2017.

"I think we have to convince the public that we're using [funds] wisely and strategically, and I think we've failed in that regard as a city", said Council President Bruce Harrell during Monday's meeting. After that, it would have risen to an estimated $39 million a year. Although more than 12,000 affordable units have been built, far more are necessary to house the growing population of people displaced by rising housing costs, which are bid up by an influx of well-paid tech workers and exacerbated by widespread single-family zoning. A count past year found King County's homeless population to have reached more than 11,000, and a pro bono report issued last week by McKinsey & Co. for the Seattle Chamber of Commerce found that it would cost about $400 million to address the shortage of affordable housing in the area.

As a result of the new request for proposals process implemented last year, the contracts last a year, but the city says it assesses the service providers quarterly to determine whether the providers are meeting performance targets.

But the fight is about more than just one company or one policy.

Shannon Brown, 55, who has been living a tiny home at a south Seattle homeless encampment, said there's simply not enough housing for the city's poorest people.

Share