OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law today a bill to increase community-based housing opportunities for local farmworkers in Washington.

Sponsored by Sen. Liz Lovelett (D-Anacortes), Senate Bill 5396, passed with bi-partisan support, addresses a shortage of seasonal and annual farmworker housing by extending an existing sales-and-use tax exemption. The exemption will now extend to housing where at least 50% of the occupants are farmworkers and to housing used by seasonal farmworkers but also used by other occupants for parts of the year.

“Farmworkers are a crucial part of our communities across the state, and we should be doing more to ensure they have access to quality housing,” said Lovelett. “I am proud to have worked with colleagues from across the aisle and folks from across the state to allow more people to safely and affordably live within the communities where they work. It’s a win for workers and farmers alike.”

The bill also clarifies the definition of farmworker to include aqua culture employees and prohibits the exemption from applying to housing built exclusively for workers on H-2A visas.

The exemption takes effect Oct. 2021 and expires in January 2032.