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Group Hosts Public Forum On Potential Olympia Housing Levy

Tom Banse
Northwest News Network

An advocacy group will hold a public forum on Wednesday to talk about its proposal to levy a property tax to pay for affordable housing in Olympia.

The Home Fundis a project to encourage cities to dedicate funds for affordable housing around Thurston County.  

The group hopes to get a property tax levy on Olympia's November ballot to build 250 housing units over seven years. The tax would be 36 cents per $1,000 of assessed value and would raise about $2.2 million annually, according to The Home Fund.

Thurston County ranked low in Washington state for housing affordability in a recent report from nonprofit United Way. 

"In Seattle, you've been seeing rents rising. They're starting to shoot up pretty fast here as well," The Home Fund spokesman Phil Owen said.

The Home Fund's proposal is based on a similar Bellingham levy that passed in 2012.

"So here in Olympia, we're moving forward as a community to do something that's going to make an impact," Owen said.

A ballot measure has not yet officially been proposed, but the group has been working with city officials in Olympia. They also hope to eventually pass a similar tax in Lacey and Tumwater.

Wednesday's public forum will be held at 6 p.m. at The United Churches of Olympia. Owen said it will be an opportunity for the group to present the details of its proposal and for the community to talk about housing services in general. Details can be found The Home Fund's website.

A Seattle native and former KNKX intern, Simone Alicea spent four years as a producer and reporter at KNKX. She earned her Bachelor's of Journalism from Northwestern University and covered breaking news for the Chicago Sun-Times. During her undergraduate career, she spent time in Cape Town, South Africa, covering metro news for the Cape Times.