Legislative Recap, 2020
2020 legislative session efforts to create more opportunities to build affordable and obtainable housing.
With the ending of the 2020 legislative session, let’s look back on housing policy and budget victories.
For the 2nd year, Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity has developed a set of policy priorities to better position low-income households across the state of Washington to access the benefits of affordable homeownership and home repair opportunities. During this recently concluded session we saw remarkable success in our short time working with the state legislature.
As our CEO, Maureen Fife, noted, “Working in collaboration with stakeholders to meet the needs of our homeowners and income restricted, cost-burdened households in our community has always been a top priority. Our successes in 2020 are a tribute to this collaboration.”
We are extremely pleased that the state was able to invest an additional $40 million into the Housing Trust Fund as a part of the FY21 supplemental budget. These funds are used to develop affordable housing and are an important part of our organization’s funding structure when developing larger homeownership projects.
Beyond the supplemental budget, lawmakers passed a number of pieces of legislation that will increase the flexibility of funding, providing more opportunities for nonprofits and public housing authorities to acquire property for affordable housing development, and allowing builders more opportunity to construct urgently needed housing.
Sentate Bill 6212
Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity’s priority legislation, SB 6212, passed on March 6th and is heading to the Governor for signature in the next few weeks. SB 6212’s sponsor, Senator Mona Das (47-Kent) noted that, “It’s important that we continue to work with local government and community members to ensure that the necessary resources and policy pieces are in place to build more housing that is affordable and obtainable to everybody in our state.”
SB 6212 allows for funds raised via a voter approved property tax levy to fund foreclosure prevention programs, affordable homeownership and owner-occupied home repair projects for low-income households earning no more than 80% of the local area median income.
According to Jason Gauthier, Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity’s Director of Operations & Government Affairs, “This policy will provide a greater depth of flexibility for communities that are willing to invest in themselves. We should strive when developing policy to allow communities options in addressing their unique needs and SB 6212 does this by updating an affordable housing funding tool, last updated during the 1995 session.”
Other important affordable housing legislation
SHB 2634 – Representative Amy Walen (48-Kirkland):
This legislation creates a Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) exemption when selling to an affordable housing provider (non-profit organization or public housing authority) who acquires the property for affordable housing purposes. This will incentivize sales to affordable housing providers and give them a small advantage when competing for increasingly scarce developable property.
SHB 2343 – Joe Fitzgibbon (34-Vashon Island):
This is a trailer bill to last session’s HB 1923 which addressed barriers to building housing, incentivized cities to create housing plans, and provided tools and funding to update land use code to develop more dense types of housing. Importantly for affordable housing, this legislation lowers the transit frequency times required in order to prevent a local jurisdiction from requiring parking for affordable housing which can be a significant and unnecessary cost drive to building affordable homes.
To learn more about Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity’s legislative agenda, visit our Advocate page and/or join our Advocacy update list.