The election just passed, but we’re already looking to the 2021 State Legislative session to take action on our affordable housing priority agenda.
Tacoma/Pierce County Habitat for Humanity has been successful the last two years in Olympia, passing SB 5025 in 2019 and SB 6212 last year.
SB 5025 provided a real estate excise tax exemption when Habitat for Humanity, or any other self-help housing non-profit, sells a house to a low-income home buyer and SB 6212 allows funds raised through voter-approved property tax levy to support homeownership and home repair programs for low-income households. Both of these pieces of legislation were made possible through strong collaborative work with legislators, representatives of cities and counties, and non-profit organizations.
But there’s more work to be done.
This coming session we, and Habitat for Humanity of Washington State, have a robust agenda to make possible the development of more affordable housing, and to provide more opportunities for low-income households to realize the wealth-building benefits of affordable homeownership.
In 2021 we’ll be working to support an update to the state’s multi-family tax exemption (MFTE) program and expand the types of housing that is allowed to qualify for this exemption. Habitat’s goal is to allow smaller types of multi-unit housing – duplexes and triplexes – to qualify for the 12 year MFTE program. The 12 year program requires that a minimum of 20% of units created be affordable housing units for low-income households. When used by Habitat for Humanity, this exemption helps lower the annual housing costs for our home buyers.
We’ll also be working to expand state-supported homeowner repair, rehabilitation, and weatherization programs to maximize their ability to serve low-income homeowners in need of assistance in maintaining the cost effectiveness, health, accessibility, and affordability of their homes.
Finally, we’ll be urging legislators to create a formal workgroup on disparities in homeownership rates between white households and households of color, to develop policy and budget recommendations to address these disparities and ensure equitable homeownership opportunities in our state.
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.
Photo: Ted S. Warren / AP