Legislative session is at full sprint this year and we just passed one of our biggest checkpoints: Policy Cutoff. Simply put, if a bill isn’t in Rules by then, it is highly unlikely it will move forward during the rest of session. Because not every bill makes it out of policy committee, the pool of senate bills (SB) likely to pass narrows considerably.
As Chair of the Senate Committee on Housing, I’d like to provide you with a look at some of the heavy-hitting Housing legislation that made the first cut:
Leveraging ADU’s as Affordable Housing
SB 5045 (Kuderer) creates a brand-new opportunity for those thinking of remodeling to add a mother-in-law apartment or a detached accessory dwelling unit. A pilot program for King County, ADU property owners who rent to low-income families will be given a property tax exemption for the unit for so long as it is rented to those making 80% of area median income or less. This keeps working families housed and gives owners a property tax break.
A 21st century update to our state’s eviction process
The pandemic opened our eyes to several housing issues – shifting away from congregate shelters to more permanent supportive housing, the deep need for emergency rental assistance, and increasing access to our courts on housing-related matters, for starters. SB 5197 (Kuderer) implements lessons learned from the pandemic by allowing remote participation in eviction proceedings, extending the rental assistance window which many rely on, reducing the number of “defaults” so each situation is judged on the merits, and more. This prioritizes getting money to landlords while keeping people sheltered. It really is less expensive to help keep families housed than to pay the cost of homelessness – and I’m not just talking about tax dollars. I do not believe homelessness is inevitable for some and I will continue working on evidence-based policies to reduce the number of people living on our streets and to increase housing opportunities for all.
Patching the Missing Middle
We have a worsening problem when it comes to being able to live where you work. Every day, our hardest working people are being forced out of their own neighborhoods by the sky-rocketing property prices. This shouldn’t be a question of the Haves and Have-Nots—middle housing keeps working families local, people in homes, and our small businesses flourishing. Championed by my colleague, Sen. Trudeau, SB 5190 helps cities set growth management goals that are density informed. There is a lot of misinformation and disinformation about the “missing middle,” so I’ll address two of the biggest misconceptions here: 1) it does not allow large, multi-family developments to be placed all over town, and 2) single family homes will be still get built. If you want to know more about missing middle housing and what it means for the 48th LD, please feel free to reach out. We can meet in the District, in Olympia or via Zoom!
A Fair Chance to Compete With Other Potential Buyers
Manufactured housing is an important affordable option to have in our mix. People renting space for their manufactured or mobile homes deserve stability, especially our elderly residents – many of whom are on a fixed income – and rent increases and park closures can drive people out of their homes. SB 5198, championed by my colleague Sen. Frame, would build a pathway for manufactured homeowners to stay in their home when the park owner wants to sell by giving them adequate notice and a fair chance to compete with other potential buyers.
A Housing Registry for Renters and Landlords
The pandemic also revealed the need to improve our communication with landlords and tenants, especially during times of crisis. And while I am pleased we provided over $2B to landlords in pandemic emergency rental assistance, at times that help was delayed simply because we lacked an effective communication system. SB 5060 (Kuderer) will require Commerce to develop a platform similar to apps that help people find vacation homes to link landlords and tenants with available programs and resources and will give the State much-needed real time data on our housing inventory. A small, biennial registry fee per unit will help fund the housing registry.
There’s a lot more
If you’re looking for more information or perhaps for a bill I didn’t cover here, just reach out and we’ll get that information for you. You can read about the Senate Committee on Housing here.
Alternatively, feel free to search for other bills by sponsor name, bill number, or by committee here on the website.
As always, it is my honor to serve as your Senator. Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office with any questions or concerns.
All the best,
State Senator, 48th Legislative District