Voters in Vancouver have given their support to an ambitious expansion of the city’s affordable housing program, approving a property tax levy to fund those programs for the next 10 years.
The latest tally from Clark County Elections shows Proposition 3 has passed with 53.55 percent of the vote and a lead of 2,370 votes with only 500 ballots left to count. Voter turnout is at 31.88 percent as of Wednesday.
“I’m super excited about the future of Vancouver and affordable housing, and just so thankful to voters for stepping up for our most vulnerable community members,” said Alishia Topper, Clark County treasurer and volunteer for the Bring Vancouver Home campaign in support of the levy.
Voters served by Vancouver Public Schools also approved the district’s replacement educational operations levy. The four-year levy won 57.08 percent of the vote in the latest results from Tuesday’s special election.
“We are grateful for the continued support from our community through this renewal levy and appreciate everyone who took the time to vote,” Vancouver Superintendent Jeff Snell said Wednesday. “The partnership between community, families, and schools in service of our students has benefited so many VPS students in the past and present, and will continue to do so in the future.”
The news wasn’t good for school supporters in Washougal and Woodland. Three levies in those two districts have gone down to defeat.
Washougal’s Proposition 10 replacement operations levy only received 46.66 percent of the vote in Clark and Skamania counties, and its Proposition 11 replacement technology and infrastructure levy only received 47.08 percent support.
Woodland’s Proposition 1 replacement levy fared even worse, receiving only 43.04 percent support from voters in its district, which includes portions of Clark and Cowlitz counties.
Affordable housing levy
Vancouver’s Affordable Housing Fund is the city’s largest local resource for affordable housing. It aims to help house low-income residents, such as people with disabilities, veterans, seniors, and families with children.
The property tax levy replacement will raise $100 million over 10 years for affordable-housing development and preservation, temporary shelters, homelessness prevention, and rental and homeownership assistance.
“The need for affordable housing continues to grow in our community. By approving this levy, voters have said they want us to continue our work to address affordable housing and homelessness in Vancouver,” said Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle in a press release. “I want to express my appreciation to Vancouver voters. Thank you for supporting this critical work.”
Starting in 2024, the existing levy will increase from 18 cents to about 30 cents per $1,000 in assessed property value, costing Vancouver homeowners an estimated $150 per year for a home with a $500,000 assessed value.
This is about $60 more per household per year than the current levy. The cost could decrease as the city’s assessed property value grows.
In addition to funding the development and preservation of affordable housing and shelters, the levy includes a new homeownership piece, using 5 percent of funds to help very low-income people buy homes.
Over the next decade, the fund is estimated to build more than 2,400 additional affordable homes, provide emergency rent services to 2,500 families, support 550 shelters and create homeownership opportunities for 150 very low-income families, according to Bring Vancouver Home.
School levy measures
The Vancouver Public Schools replacement educational and operations levy has passed with 57.08 percent support and a margin of victory of 4,750 votes.
The levy will replace existing tax levies when they expire at the end of this year, funding several programs and staff supports in the district that are not funded by the state — such as athletics and performing arts, Family-Community Resource Centers and additional staffing in security, nursing and counseling.
The four-year levy is expected to collect a total of $271.9 million starting in 2024 at an estimated rate of $1.99 per $1,000 assessed property value.
Both Washougal and Woodland school districts will be able to run their respective levies on another ballot later this year in order to begin collections in January 2024.
The next round of ballots is expected to be released at 1 p.m. Thursday.