San Juan County adopts sales tax for affordable housing

Submitted by SJC.

The San Juan County Council unanimously voted to approve an ordinance to adopt a new one-tenth-of-one percent sales and use tax for affordable housing and related services. This vote followed a public hearing at their Oct. 3, 2023 meeting. The tax is enabled by RCW 82.14.530 and will go into effect on Jan. 1.

San Juan County joins nearly 20 other jurisdictions in Washington to adopt this funding source including Skagit County, Whatcom County, the City of Anacortes and others. The proceeds will be used exclusively for constructing or acquiring affordable housing, funding the operations and maintenance costs of affordable housing projects, and housing-related services for eligible population groups.

The adoption of the tax this week is the culmination of multiple years of Council deliberations and advocacy by local housing advocates and non-profits. Affordable housing challenges continue to affect our local community. San Juan County remains the least affordable County for housing in the State according to the Washington State Center for Real Estate Research.

This source of funds will be used to subsidize construction costs for eligible housing projects, which in turn can leverage additional State, Federal and private philanthropic dollars that typically require local matching funds. Current estimates predict that five times the amount of funds raised through this tax will be brought in by other funding sources for affordable housing construction and acquisition.

Additionally, the funds can be used to support our local Community Resource Centers on each island with staff capacity to provide housing support services for housing-insecure islanders. The adoption of this funding source also addresses multiple strategies and goals identified in the County’s adopted Five-Year Homeless Plan.

The tax increase amounts to an additional $1 on every $1,000 of qualifying taxable sales. The cost to the average citizen is estimated to be about $20 per year, while raising an estimated $800,000 a year for affordable housing and related services.

The new funds will be incorporated into the County’s existing Home Fund program. To date, the Home Fund has contributed to the construction or preservation of 101 affordable housing units in the County, with another 31 units currently in development. To learn more about the County’s Home Fund, please visit

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