Friends and neighbors,
We’re down to just one more week of the 2023 legislative session! We’ll continue with long hours on the Senate floor working out any differences between bills passed by the House and Senate and voting on a final state budget. But amidst the busy rush, I want to celebrate the strides we’ve made for housing this session.
This year, the Senate focused on production, preservation, and prevention to address the housing crisis. All three worked like puzzle pieces to complete the larger picture: on their own they may help fill the frame but together, we have a complete picture.
These are the pieces:
- Climate resiliency in the Growth Management Act: HB 1181 will help to undo historic harms while creating the blueprint for the livable walkable neighborhoods Washingtonians need and deserve. It is an essential piece of legislation that ensures our cities and counties are planning for the impacts of climate change while addressing critical housing and transportation needs So glad to have worked on this policy with my partner in all kinds of wonky land use policies, Rep. Davina Duerr.
- Middle Housing: HB 1110 puts us on a path to rapidly bolster our housing supply to meet the needs of WA’s families. Gentle density, with many different types of housing units, is most impactful way we can address our growing housing shortage. I’m grateful for the leadership of my colleagues Rep. Jessica Bateman and Sen. Yasmin Trudeau.
- ADUs: HB 1337 expands housing options by lowering barriers to building accessory dwelling units. This will put more units within reach for people who have been priced out of the market—from young families to elders hoping to age in place.
- Covenant homeownership: HB 1474 establishes a covenant homeownership account and program to provide down payment and closing cost assistance to Washingtonians who have been targeted by deliberate systemic, racist and discriminatory housing barriers.
- Additional budget items: This session we’ll pass an operating and capital budget, both of which take holistic approaches and makes targeted investments to address the housing crisis.
- The operating budget invests:
- $85 million for emergency housing and rental assistance
- $15 million for the housing and essential needs program
- $32 million for local government grants to support affordable housing
- $8 million for children and youth experiencing homelessness
- And the capital budget invests in:
- Over $625 million statewide for affordable housing projects
- $400 million specifically for the Housing Trust Fund
- $67 million for the Housing Finance Commission Land Acquisition Program
- $50 million for projects designed to increase the supply and affordability of transit-oriented housing
- $20 million to connect affordable housing developments to infrastructure
- The operating budget invests:
These bills and investments aim to preserve and produce housing, working together to expand rental and homeownership opportunities for a diverse range of income levels. According to the Office of Financial Management (OFM), Washington must add 1.1 million new homes over the next 20 years, or 55,000 each year to keep up with the demand. We need much more supply to ensure neighbors can be housed and that homes are affordable.
OFM also reported that more than one million Washingtonians spend over 30% of their income on housing. That’s too high. Unaffordable housing pushes our neighbors out of their homes. An increase of $100 in median rent for an area increases homelessness by 15% in metro areas, and 39% in rural areas.
We desperately need an equity-driven approach to achieve long-term housing solutions that account for the risk of displacement and meet the housing needs of all income brackets. I believe these slate of bills are the right puzzle pieces to fill the massive gap created by the housing crisis. I’m thrilled we’ve been able to fit them to work together towards a larger solution.
Stay in touch!
I look forward to continuing to work with you.
All the best,