I am writing to urge county voters to vote for the Housing Initiative on the November ballot, Proposition No. 1. Every Needs Assessment that has been done in recent years by either the County or private organizations has reported that housing that is affordable for ownership, rental, and seasonal workers is at a critical point. Jobs are going unfilled and businesses report having to close for a day or two, unable to properly staff the restaurant or shop.
Passage of this measure would approve a 0.5 percent real estate excise tax on the purchase or sale of property in the county. The purchaser would pay 99 percent of that tax, and the seller would pay 1 percent of that tax. If an island taxpayer is not engaged in the selling or buying of property, there would be no effect on their taxes.
Proceeds earned by this tax would go to the county, which in turn would make the money available through a grant application process to any organization or entity addressing the affordable housing crisis in our county. This money would be valuable seed money for new projects and can be leveraged when going to other agencies seeking additional money.
As a volunteer for an organization which develops permanently affordable housing for ownership on San Juan Island, I cannot overstate how important it is to be able to show the government agencies with whom we work, and the private foundations from whom we ask for money, that we have support from our community. Passage of this housing measure would help demonstrate that support.
If you value having that landscaper, teacher, EMT, medical worker, restaurant worker, shopkeeper and retail worker to help you, then you can help keep these valuable neighbors and workers here in the islands. You can help keep our island way of life vibrant and diverse.
Vote “Yes” on Proposition No. 1 on Nov. 6.
Board President, San Juan Community Home Trust