The Cost of Solving Homelessness in Seattle: $400 Million

It’s "dramatically higher" than any number under discussion, and not even close to what the city will raise with its new tax on large businesses.

1 minute read

May 17, 2018, 10:00 AM PDT

By Katharine Jose

Seattle Homeless

Wonderlane / Flickr

Monday, the Seattle City Council passed a measure that will tax large businesses (those that gross more than $20 million per year) $275 per employee per year; though the amount is less than it was in the original proposal, the implementing the "head tax" will raise an estimated $45 million to address the very serious housing crisis in the region.

It’s not a small sum, but it’s a fraction of the $400 million the consulting firm McKinsey recently estimated that the city would need to spend to house all its homeless citizens; that number, writes David Kroman at Crosscut, is “dramatically higher than any dollar amount under serious discussion either in Seattle City Hall or in King County Council chambers.”

“In addition to the dollar estimate,” Kroman goes on, “the report found strong correlation between rising rents and the rising homeless population.”

Seattle is only one of many American cities with very high rents and an increasingly number of people unable to afford them, and only one of several that have tried to find new revenue streams  or additional funds to address the issue.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018 in Crosscut

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