OLYMPIA – Many people hit by financial catastrophe would have a greater chance to stay in their own homes, under a bill passed by the Senate today.

“When a crisis like the pandemic hits, many people, including many small business owners, suddenly can’t pay their bills because of factors beyond their control and are in danger of going bankrupt and losing everything they’ve worked for,” said Sen. Derek Stanford (D-Bothell), the bill’s sponsor. “Even though we expect that people’s homes are protected in bankruptcy, our state’s outdated laws mean that an average family home is actually not protected.”

SB 5408, passed today on a vote of 46-2, would raise Washington state’s homestead exemption, which determines the value of a home that is protected in personal bankruptcy proceedings, to protect an average family home. The homestead exemption is currently set to a maximum of $125,000; Stanford’s bill would raise the exemption to the median home price in the county, with a minimum of $125,000.

SB 5408 will now go to the House of Representatives for consideration. It has until April 11 to be approved by the House to be eligible to become law this year.

The 2021 legislative session is scheduled to adjourn on April 25.