Seattle's tax on Amazon to help homeless may fall short, locals say

Jaap Arriens  Nur

Seattle's City Council passed a new tax Monday. As such, many homeless individuals are bounced from place to place, or forced to live on the street while seeking affordable housing within the city. The Seattle region had the third-highest number of homeless people in the US and saw 169 homeless deaths past year.

But the affected large business groups, about 600 employers that have in turn benefited by Seattle's economic boom, have opposed the legislation and have even threatened the council.

Amazon employs roughly 45,000 people in the Seattle area at its headquarters and other office space.

The company has resumed work on one of the real estate projects it paused, Herdener said, adding, "We remain very apprehensive about the future created by the council's hostile approach and rhetoric toward larger businesses, which forces us to question our growth here". Supporters of the tax chanted "Housing is a human right!" at a protest lead by Councilwoman Ksharma Sawant, a member of the Socialist Alternative party. Publicly traded companies are not required to break out their total employees or revenue per city. "This revenue increase far outpaces the Seattle population increase over the same time period".

The money raised supposedly will help Seattle cope with its homelessness crisis, but in squeezing the tech industry, the progressives on the City Council have forgotten something: If you tax something, you risk getting less of it, and certainly fewer jobs isn't the answer to helping the city's homeless.

The tax is expected to raise about $48 million a year to pay for affordable housing and homeless services.


"People are dying on the doorsteps of prosperity".

After a threat by the world's richest man that he might reconsider investing in Seattle, a divided city council came together this week and unanimously approved a new tax on high-grossing corporations - but at about half the amount originally proposed. "The city does not have a revenue problem - it has a spending efficiency problem", he said.

Amazon, in fact, is now expanding beyond its 45,000 employees and plans to add 7,000 more employees and build a new skyscraper.

Being the third region in the USA with the highest number of homeless people, the city has been driving reforms to tackle the problem, as at least 169 homeless people died on Seattle's streets in 2017. In recent years, the number of homeless individuals has ballooned to more than 11,000 in King County, with the vast majority of those residing inside the city limits of Seattle.

Shannon Brown, 55, who has been living a tiny home at a south Seattle homeless encampment, said there's simply not enough housing for the city's poorest people. "I think [Amazon] will definitely stop or slow its growth in Seattle if the tax passes", she told Geekwire.

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