One Step Closer

This week the San Juan Island County Council voted to adopt a 1/10th of 1% sales tax for Affordable Housing. It is anticipated that this tax will generate approximately $800,000 annually. The funds will be used to build affordable housing as well as to provide staff funding at the Community Resource Centers for housing support specialists, who help bridge the gap to housing for clients as well as help clients stay housed once housing has been secured. You can read more about it here.

$800,000 is not nearly enough to solve the housing issues in the County, however, it is a step forward.

How we pay for essential social safety net services could certainly use some consideration. Currently, most of the essential services are provided by nonprofits, such as OPAL Community Land Trust, the Orcas Food Bank, the Orcas Senior Center and the Orcas Community Resource Center.

All of these nonprofits have to raise private donations to maintain their programs, requiring the dedication of staff time for fundraising rather than program support. It is not a very efficient system.

While I do not know if we have the political will to raise taxes sufficiently to pay for such essential support, I do think we can make some changes that would provide some help.

If all of us who currently donate to support these programs would consider making sustaining gifts, giving the organization the reassurance that a certain level of funding would be coming each month, that is another step forward.

We can achieve this simply by setting up a monthly sustaining contribution. This would potentially free up valuable staff time to focus on services rather than on development. It would also give the leaders of the organizations the ability to plan for the future, knowing the funds would be available to support their efforts.

Each step gets us closer to a healthier and more equitable future. I am grateful that we are walking side by side.

Have a great weekend!