It’s Sine Die, the adjournment day of the 2022 Washington legislative session, and this gives us a moment to look back at our 2022 legislative priorities and see how we did during this short session.
Tacoma Habitat had two priorities coming into this session—one a policy bill and the other a capital budget request. The policy bill, HB 1643, provides a real estate excise tax exemption on the sale of property to be used for affordable housing development. It was passed earlier this week, and is on its way to the Governor’s desk for signature. This legislation provides an incentive for property sellers to prioritize non-profit organizations, like Habitat, or housing authorities when selling residential property.
The budget request to complete the financing for a 9-unit townhome development in the Tillicum neighborhood of Lakewood was fully funded with a $464,000 allocation in the capital budget via the state’s Housing Trust Fund (HTF). To achieve this, we worked with the 28th district legislative delegation (Representatives Leavitt and Bronoske, and Senator Nobles) and had letters of support submitted by the City of Lakewood and Pierce County. These municipalities are significant funders of this project, and we’re excited to continue this cross jurisdiction coordination and collaboration in the future. This allocation allows Tacoma Habitat to begin construction this year, which means the first homebuyers will be moving in sometime in 2023.
Habitat also worked with partners in Olympia to advocate for large investments in affordable housing development—specifically for affordable homeownership development—and we’re pleased by the results. In addition to our Tillicum project, the supplemental capital budget allocated $114,000,000 to the state Housing Trust Fund via SB 5651. This is an unprecedented supplemental year allocation, of which $25,000,000 is, “provided to nonprofit agencies for the development of homeownership projects affordable to low-income households throughout the state.”
Finally, we were happy to work with Tacoma’s Senator Trudeau to pass SB 5755 to create a de facto pilot program for the redevelopment of vacant or underdeveloped land. This legislation will provide a limited sales and use tax exemption for the development of housing where at least 50% of the units will be designated as affordable for households earning less than 80% of the area median income. We’re excited to see the effects of this new exemption.
A 60 day session goes fast and lots of good pieces of legislation didn’t make their respective cutoff deadlines, but Tacoma Habitat was fortunate this year. The legislature responded enthusiastically to our policy and budget ideas, and now it’s our job to put their work into action on the ground.