In communities with high levels of support for affordable housing, a property tax levy can be a viable source of funding for preserving and creating affordable housing. These taxes are levied as a percentage of the assessed value of a property and are often implemented over a set period of time as a supplemental levy in addition to the locality’s general property tax rate. Typically, property tax levies are applied to all local property—commercial as well as residential.

Case Studies

Local Housing Levy (Seattle)

Since 1981, Seattle voters have approved one bond and four property tax levies to fund affordable housing development and preservation in the city. The current levy, passed in 2009, is active through 2016 and is set at $17 per $100,000 of assessed property value, or approximately $79 a year for the average homeowner as of 2009. It is expected to provide $145 million to the city’s Low Income Housing Fund over a period of seven years.

On average, Housing Levy capital funds leverage other public, philanthropic and private resources by a ratio of three to one. Between 2010 and 2014, with the help of this leverage, the fund created 1,971 long-term affordable apartments, rehabilitated 410 homes, prevented homelessness for 1,882 households and enabled 148 first-time homebuyers to purchase a home. Since 1981, revenue generated from the property tax levy has partially financed the development of 11,000 affordable apartments, administered down payment loans to more than 600 first-time homebuyers and provided rental assistance to more than 4,000 households.

Levy resources have being invested in both low- and higher-poverty communities throughout the city. More than half of the levy’s rental funding must be used to serve households earning 30 percent of area median income or less.

For More Info:

City of Seattle Office of Housing
Email: [email protected]