The state legislature’s Housing, Community Development & Veterans Committee has passed four homelessness bills (described below). These bills would enable local communities and religious organizations to develop affordable housing using existing tax bases. You can take action on these bills by clicking on the link in each paragraph below, and click on “Comment on this Bill.” The comment link will take you to a page that requests your address and email information, a button where you can indicate support, oppose or neutral. You need to make a comment but it can be short – “please support the bill.”
HB 1219 Excise Tax 2.5% of selling price to support homeless projects. Prime Sponsor Amy Walen 45thdistrict (Kirkland) said that cities need new revenue; she said that we should trust cities to develop infrastructure, and local governments have proven capabilities. Kirkland deputy mayor testified that this would permit cities to develop afford housing closer to jobs. Washington realtors support goals of cities develop affordable housing but request a time frame to inspect housing four years after construction to see if it meets objectives.
HB 1377 Housing development by religious organizations would be permitted on their property, including high-density housing for low-income households. Religious organization required to pay all fees and costs. Prime sponsor, Amy Walen, said it would address homelessness. Faith communities often lead the way. Some zoning requirements preclude religious organizations from establishing affordable housing and they need some scope. Paul Benz, Director of Faith Action Network, testified in support of bill and noted that the faith community around the state were supportive.
HB 1406 authorizes local areas to use sales tax for affordable housing. Smaller cities and counties can use revenue for rental assistance as well as development. June Robinson, 35thdistrict (Snohomish), was prime sponsor, noted that local communities would have flexibility for developing housing. The bill does not increase overall sales tax, only allows shift from other spending. Mental health issues do enter into consideration as the housing involves location of mentally ill, who need a stable place to live they can afford. Renton city official supported bill, would build 100 units each year if funds are available under bill. Paul Benz of Faith Action Network also supported this bill.
HB 1207 Mobile Home Parks: allows cities to regulate but requires that they allow replacements for older mobile homes. Prime sponsor Cindy Ryu, 32ndDistrict (Shoreline) commended bill for reducing homelessness. An owner of a mobile home park in Sequim noted that city tried oppose replacing mobile homes but was stopped by her lawyer. HB 1207 would permit owner to use state law to replace older mobile homes. Mobile homes sometime come with stigmas but current mobile home parks have good infrastructure.
More detailed information is available at https://www.sightline.org/2019/02/07/washington-state-housing-affordability-bills/