Seattle council puts social housing ballot initiative on February special election ballot

The Seattle City Council unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday that will allow residents to vote in the February 2023 special election on whether the city should establish a public developer to create, own and maintain public housing.

Initiative 135, which concerns developing and maintaining affordable housing, will go before voters on the ballot on Feb. 14, 2023. I-135 failed to qualify for the November ballot when King County Elections said the group behind the initiative, House Our Neighbors, didn’t procure enough valid signatures.

Petitioners were then granted an extra 20-day “signature procurement” period to make up the difference, which allowed the initiative to qualify for the February ballot. The signatures then had to be confirmed by King County Elections.

According to its website, if passed, I-135 would create a Seattle Social Housing Developer that would create publicly owned social housing for those making 0-120% of the area median income.

City startup support would also be required for the first 18 months, including in-kind staff and office space.

The ordinance would also create a process for public land to undergo feasibility studies to determine housing needs and whether the land should be transferred to the developer before considering the sale of the land.