Signs for and against Proposition 1 can be seen around Jefferson County. (Cydney McFarland/Peninsula Daily News)

Meeting on affordable housing measure set in Port Townsend

PORT TOWNSEND — Community members will host an information session to discuss Proposition 1 and its potential effects on taxpayers and low-income residents of Jefferson County.

Proposition 1 would tax property owners for seven years to raise money for affordable housing projects.

Community members Daniel Milholland, Justin Lake and Justine Rebekah have organized a discussion at the Lincoln Street House from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. today, when ballots for the Nov. 7 general election will be mailed to registered voters.

According to the event’s Facebook page, the group is not for or against Prop. 1 but hopes to foster a good discussion face to face, rather than over Facebook.

“We simply want to look at the facts and have an open discussion with our friends and community members,” said the Face-to-Face event Facebook page.

Homes Now, a group of community members in favor of Proposition 1, hosted its final information session in Quilcene on Tuesday night. During a meeting at the Port Townsend Community Center last week, a group of people campaigning against Prop. 1 brought signs and chanted outside of the Port Townsend Community Center.

If passed, Prop. 1 would create the Home Opportunity Fund which would be funded through a seven-year property tax levy of 36 cents per $1,000 assessed value.

The fund itself would be overseen by nine people, appointed by the Jefferson County Commissioners, who would look over project proposals from local organizations and developers and award funds that would be used as matching funds to leverage state and federal grants for affordable housing.

Throughout the seven-year term the levy is expected to raise $13 million to $13.9 millions.

The idea is to use the fund to provide local organizations with the matching funds needed to leverage grants from state and federal agencies. Organizations would have to apply with the Home Opportunity Fund Board, which would be made up of nine citizens with a variety of backgrounds appointed by the Jefferson County commissioners.

It is based on levies passed in Bellingham in 2012 and Vancouver, Wash., in 2016, but Jefferson County would be the first county to attempt a levy like this.

Opponents of Prop. 1 have argued that there are other ways to promote affordable housing, including sewer expansions and economic growth.

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Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at [email protected]

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