Councilmembers Propose Fighting Homelessness with Sales Tax
Two members of D.C. council are teaming up with a strategy to harness the power of an Internet sale tax to end homelessness.
The plan comes from council members Jim Graham (Ward 1) and Mary Cheh (Ward 3). They cite a survey done by University of Tennessee that concludes the District lost about $35.5 million last year in uncollected Internet sales tax. According to the city’s Interagency Council on Homelessness, D.C. needs an estimated $53 million per year to provide permanent housing to all homeless residents.
Graham and Cheh say they would like to use funds collected by the sales tax to help bolster homeless and housing efforts. Their plan depends upon three objectives— the dedication of substantial funding, the establishment of a concrete strategy with a definite time-frame for success, and the creation of a directorship focused specifically on the issue. They also favor establishing a cabinet-level position for an official charged with working solely on homelessness issues.
“We are deeply concerned about homelessness in the District,” said Council members Graham and Cheh. “In a growing, thriving city like ours, there is no excuse for allowing individuals, families, and children to live on the street, in a car, or without a home. This is the right thing to do.”
But before the strategy gets put into action Congress must first pass the Marketplace Fairness Act, which would require out of state retailers to pay tax on online purchases. There is expected resistance once it reaches the House.
“Right now we have a unique opportunity to fund a transformative investment like this one,” said Cheh.