The Washington legislature begins their 2022 short session on January 10th. As an organization, Tacoma Habitat rolls into the session coming off three very successful years in Olympia having passed SB 5025 in 2019, SB 6212 in 2020, and working in collaboration last year to pass SB 5287 to update the state’s multi-family property tax exemption tool. We also helped to create a provision in the operating budget to fund a workgroup to develop administrative, legislative, and budgetary recommendations to reduce racial disparities in homeownership rates.
With this momentum, we look forward to our work in 2022 to advance a bold agenda in support of affordable housing development in our communities.
For this coming session, Tacoma Habitat’s agenda will focus on five items, with two taking the priority.
We are seeking a direct appropriation of $450,000, via the state’s Housing Trust Fund (HTF), to support our permanently affordable homeownership development in the Tillicum neighborhood of Lakewood. HTF funding is a critical component of our financing structure and this allocation would combine with funding from the City of Lakewood and Pierce County to allow us to begin construction in 2022. These 9 townhome units, of a 12 unit development, will provide permanently affordable homeownership for households earning less than 80% of the area median income.
Our second priority item is HB 1643, legislation to exempt a sale or transfer of real property for affordable housing to a non-profit, housing authority, or public corporation from the real estate excise tax. This legislation was passed by the legislature during the 2020 session, but was eventually vetoed by Governor Inslee with revenue worries as the Covid-19 pandemic began to take hold in Washington. By passing HB 1643 into law, the legislature would provide an incentive for the seller of land if they sold land to be used for affordable housing development. We believe, as we did in 2020, that this is smart and timely legislation to provide yet another tool to advance affordable housing development.
Our agenda also contains three additional items for advancement:
- We support broad investments in the Housing Trust Fund, the Governor’s recent budget proposal included $100 million for the fund, and ensuring allocations to support affordable homeownership development within the fund.
- We also encourage the legislature to explore and create options to reduce or offset the cost of building materials used in construction of affordable housing. An example of an option to reduce costs would be HB 1168 (2019) which would have provided a sale and use tax exemption and materials and labor used on the construction of certain types of affordable housing. You can check out one of our recent blog posts for a deep dive on this topic.
- Tacoma Habitat also advocates for the legislature to consider revenue and funding options to support residential density improvements in cities, towns, and counties. This support would entail options to provide capital funds for infrastructure to support housing development and affordable housing construction.
Make sure to check our blog during the legislative session and sign-up for our advocacy alerts so you can stay on top of our work in Olympia, and learn about how you can participate.