OPCD’s Equitable Development Initiative (EDI) has a new funding stream to support community-driven projects and organizations: the short-term rental tax. When the new program to govern Airbnb and VRBO rentals in Seattle is up and running in 2019, an estimated $5 million per year will be available as an ongoing source of funding for EDI.
“EDI will now have the sustained revenues for community driven projects which advance economic and racial equity objectives by supporting capacity building, place-based project development, and entrepreneurship in communities facing high risk of displacement and low access to opportunity,” said Sam Assefa, director of OPCD. “EDI helps ensure that vulnerable residents can benefit from growth, rather than being displaced by it. In the years ahead, we look forward to constructive partnerships with grassroots organizations all across Seattle.”
The Seattle City Council approved a nightly tax on short-term rentals to respond to rising rents caused by the conversion of long-term apartment rentals, while still providing Seattle residents the flexibility to earn additional income by renting out their homes. After costs needed to collect the tax, all remaining proceeds will be used to support EDI and the City’s affordable housing programs. Seattle Finance and Administrative Services will administer the tax.
The City announced Round 1 funding decisions in September 2017 to three community-based organizations for projects intended to reduce disparities and achieve equitable outcomes for historically marginalized communities. Applications for Round 2 of EDI funding are expected to be released by the end of the year.