Our Advocacy Issues

Everyone in Washington deserves access to a safe, healthy, and affordable home. Take action now to tell your legislator to support a bold investment in affordable homes

Invest $10 Million into the Housing Trust Fund for the preservation of affordable homes.

Many currently affordable homes across Washington are at risk of being lost to the for-profit market. An additional appropriation for the Housing Trust Fund in the state’s Supplemental Capital Budget would help save homes and prevent the displacement of people living in them. This would preserve affordable homes already subsidized but at risk of loss. Funds could be used for the preservation of all units at risk of loss, including USDA properties in rural communities and homes funded with Low Income Housing Tax Credits.

Allow the local option for a 1/10 of 1% sales tax increase for affordable housing to be implemented by local elected officials.

Local jurisdictions need more options to generate local funds for affordable homes. In 2015, the Legislature authorized cities and counties to implement a sales tax for affordable housing, but using the option requires an electoral process that is expensive and time-consuming. House Bill 1590 would allow the current 1/10 of 1% sales tax funding option for affordable homes to be enacted through a simple majority vote of the city or county council. Local governments could still send it to the voters, but under HB 1590 they would not be required to.

Create a Real Estate Excise Tax exemption for selling to a nonprofit who acquires it for affordable housing.

The lack of properties available to develop multifamily housing and the inability to compete with for-profit developers to acquire existing properties is a significant issue facing nonprofit affordable housing developers across the state. Providing a Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) exemption when selling to a nonprofit or public housing authority for affordable housing will incentivize preserving or developing affordable homes. All sales or transfers of real property to a nonprofit entity, public development authority, or public housing authority would be exempt from the REET if the purchasing entity records a covenant requiring the property to be used for affordable housing.

Fix the property tax exemption for affordable rental housing for very low- income households.

Nonprofit affordable housing is currently granted a property tax exemption under certain circumstances, but it needs to be adjusted to work with the needs of today’s affordable housing providers. If a tenant’s income increases—which it often can because affordable housing stabilizes lives and improves employment opportunities—housing providers can be required to pay the full property tax. This unpredictability drives funders to require significant up-front cash reserves which can significantly increase the cost of building affordable homes. This bill would adjust the initial target income of tenants from 50% of Area Median Income (AMI) and below, to 60% AMI and below to apply to more people. It would also eliminate the wildcard of future tax liability by allowing a tenant to increase their income without it triggering a tax liability for the property. Current law has this safeguard but limits it to properties of 10 units or less. This change would also require the apartment to be rented on vacancy to someone at 60% AMI or below.