Vancouver launches survey on tax plan

City seeks residents’ opinion on proposal to expand affordable housing

By Amy Fischer, Columbian City Government Reporter

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The city of Vancouver wants to know what its residents think about a proposed affordable housing tax that could appear on a future ballot.

To read about the proposed levy and take a four-question online survey, go to www.cityofvancouver.us/ced/page/affordable-housing and click the Affordable Housing Survey link. The survey closes the morning of June 10.

The city council, which declared an affordable housing emergency April 11, is expected to make a decision June 20 on whether to put the levy out for a public vote in November.

A fourth community informational session about the levy will be held by city staff from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday in Vancouver City Hall’s Aspen Room, 415 W. Sixth St., Vancouver.

At a rate of 36 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, the proposed levy would generate $6 million per year for seven years. It would cost the owner of a $250,000 home an extra $7.50 a month, or $90 a year. The city would collect the money and distribute it through a public process to developers, property owners and housing and service providers.

Dedicated fund

The revenue would be put into a fund for the buying, building and preservation of low-income rental housing and homelessness prevention in the form of rental assistance and housing services.

All of the money generated — $42 million over the seven-year life of the levy — would be used to support families earning a maximum of 50 percent of the area’s median income, which is $33,750 a year for a family of four. In Vancouver, 13,855 rental households fall into that category.

A Bring Vancouver Home campaign is advocating for passage of the levy with the message, “ensure everyone in Vancouver has the opportunity to live in a safe, secure and healthy affordable home.”

To contribute or learn more about Bring Vancouver Home, visit BringVancouverHome.com or visit its Facebook page, Bring Vancouver Home. The campaign is headquartered at 1401 C St., Vancouver, WA 98660.