Here in the Senate we are working hard to move forward progressive legislation that prioritizes improvements to quality of life for all who live in Washington. Addressing the lack of accessible and affordable housing is a major focus of the Legislature this session. I’d love to tell you about several key pieces of legislation to ease this crisis that are now under consideration as we move into this phase of session.
Increasing the supply of affordable housing
In all parts of our state, we need a lot more affordable housing to address the housing stability crisis. We can build it by investing more in programs we already know work well, as well as new innovative approaches to increasing the supply.
- HB 1406 encourages investment in affordable and supportive housing by authorizing sales tax bonding to fund programs to address these needs. These bonds would come at no cost to homeowners, renters, property owners or developers—an all-around win.
- SB 5812 would enable property owners to increase the housing supply by requiring local authorities to permit accessory dwelling units—such as backyard cottages and in-law units—in urban growth areas.
- SB 5334 encourages the development of condominiums by addressing current barriers to their expanded use as a supply of accessible homeownership opportunities.
- HB 1219 would authorize local governments to use existing Real Estate Excise Tax revenue for homelessness services and to build affordable housing.
- HB 1377, the companion to a bill I introduced this session, would empower faith communities to contribute to housing stability by adjusting zoning to allow increased density on property owned by religious organizations
Protecting tenants’ rights and dignity
Problems like inflexible eviction policies and unexpected rent increases are a major source of housing instability. While we address the current homelessness crisis, we must also work to prevent these crises in the future through long-term prevention strategies.
SB 5600 and HB 1453 would both add numerous protections to residential tenants. They would increase the time tenants are given to comply with a notice to pay rent or vacate to 14 days (up from three days), helping tenants whose finances are temporarily exhausted by a sudden expense like a major car repair or serious illness.
They would also allow courts to use discretion in unlawful detainer cases, and allow some landlords to recover unpaid judgments through the Landlord Mitigation Program Account.
Another key bill, HB 1440, would require landlords to provide at least 60 days prior written notice of a rent increase in rental agreements that are not subsidized tenancies. This doubles the notice period currently required, and would help tenants prepare for increases and assess their options for addressing them.
Remember! We rely on your continued support to move these and other essential progressive bills forward through the legislative process.
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