Vote ‘yes’ on 6B to empower action on the affordable housing crisis |

Vote ‘yes’ on 6B to empower action on the affordable housing crisis

Rob Murphy
Summit Combined Housing Authority executive director

Voters will be asked in November to approve ballot Measure 6B, a 20-year extension of the 0.6% affordable housing sales tax that was approved in 2016 for 10 years.

Why is this question being put before voters now, with several years left before the sunset? Simply put, extending the existing tax this November will allow the jurisdictions of Summit County to do more to address our housing crisis now because of the security afforded by a reliable revenue stream.

We expect our elected officials to exercise fiscal responsibility when determining how and when to spend our tax dollars. Affordable housing projects and programs must be developed with an eye not just to funding that is currently available but also the ongoing revenue needed to finance those activities.

Voters in Summit have consistently supported sales taxes dedicated to supporting affordable housing projects and programs. This includes the original 0.125% tax approved in 2005, which voters made permanent in 2015, as well as the 0.6% tax approved in 2016. It’s this second tax that is on the ballot for a 20-year extension.

Despite this support, jurisdictions in Summit have a limit to which they can strategize, plan and implement housing solutions with the risk that the tax may not continue past 2026. Solutions being implemented now will need continued funding down the road, and only so much can be done with regard to long-term planning with the risk that the needed resources will dry up before the projects can even be completed.

Extending the 0.6% sales tax by 20 years beyond 2026 this November removes from the equation the risk of that funding disappearing and opens the door for action now, while our housing crisis is at a fever pitch. By voting “yes” on 6B, you are not only giving your elected officials the green light to address the housing crisis, you are empowering them to do so responsibly, by guaranteeing a continued revenue source far enough into the future that bold and immediate action can be taken.

A 20-year extension is not an arbitrary decision but a strategic one. It creates the opportunity for jurisdictions to borrow against future taxes in order to begin new projects and programs now and in the next few years, when they are so badly needed. It also represents an acknowledgment that our housing crisis isn’t going anywhere.

Affordable housing challenges have existed in Summit for a long time, particularly for our fellow residents working in the service and hospitality industries. For a number of reasons, those challenges have become greater over the several years since the 0.6% tax was first approved. They’ve also spread to a broader range of locals, to the point that few of us remain unaffected, either directly or indirectly, by the difficulty that so many face in finding affording housing.

Voting “yes” on 6B is an acknowledgment of the reality of our local housing situation and of the ongoing and worsening consequences of not addressing it as assertively as possible. It’s also a clear message to our elected officials that we expect bold action to be taken.

Rob Murphy

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