2016 Legislative Priorities

The Housing Development Consortium Seattle-King County (HDC) and our partners are dedicated to the vision that all people live with dignity in safe, healthy, affordable homes in communities of opportunity. HDC supports the following state advocacy priorities for 2016 (Click here for a printable PDF):

Fund the State Housing Trust Fund

It should be possible for working families and vulnerable people to afford housing and still have enough money for basic expenses like groceries, gas, and childcare. The Housing Trust Fund is Washington’s mechanism for ensuring access to housing for working families and vulnerable individuals. Since 1989, the Housing Trust Fund has invested more than $750 million in new and improved housing, leveraged more than $3 billion in private and public sector support, and increased the stock of affordable housing by more than 35,000 units across the state. Investments in the Housing Trust Fund create thousands of jobs and stimulate Washington’s local economies–creating healthy, vibrant, and affordable communities.

Invest $10 million in the Housing Trust Fund in 2016 to address the growing need for homes affordable to low-income families and individuals.

Preserve Affordable Homes with a Property Tax Exemption Option

Everyone deserves the opportunity to live in a safe, healthy, affordable home. Unfortunately, many families in our state, in order to find an affordable home, live in poor or substandard housing conditions. Often, this occurs because building owners do not have the resources or incentive necessary to spur improvements. Preserving this housing stock improves the health of residents and can increase neighborhood safety and catalyze economic development. Local governments need more tools to in order to maintain and improve their housing stock, while maintaining its affordability in the long-term.

Enable local jurisdictions to implement a property tax exemption program to preserve quality and affordability.

Enact Source of Income Discrimination Protection (HB 1565/SB 5378)

Housing Choice vouchers (otherwise known as Section 8) and other kinds of rental subsidies prevent homelessness and provide individuals and families the ability to rent market-rate homes when their personal income does not. However, when landlords deny tenancy solely because an applicant is relying on a housing subsidy or “unearned income” (such as SSI) to pay all, or a portion, of their rent, it limits the ability of these programs to succeed and for these households to thrive. Under this legislation, landlords would still be allowed to reject applications of tenants who do not have enough income/resources to meet the monthly rental payment or for other legal grounds applied equally to all applicants. Some King County cities (including Kirkland, Bellevue, Redmond, and Seattle) already restrict this kind of discrimination. This legislation would create a fair playing field for all landlords.

Enact legislation to protect renters from unfair source-of-income discrimination.

Authorize a Local Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) Option to Fund Affordable Housing

King County’s many moderate and low-wage workers should be able to live affordably close to transit and near their jobs, rather than endure long, expensive and polluting commutes that place them far from family and community for too much of the working day. In locations with skyrocketing rents, like Seattle, Bellevue, and Vancouver, public investments in affordable housing have not kept up with growing need. Allowing cities to enact a 0.25% Real Estate Excise Tax for affordable housing would provide local governments the appropriate tools to address their local needs.

Allow local governments the authority to enact a 0.25% Real Estate Excise Tax for affordable housing.