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How housing and homelessness ballot initiatives are faring so far in this year’s election

Doug Nadvornick/Spokane Public Radio

Measures to protect renters, limit homeless encampments and boost affordable housing are so far receiving mixed support from voters in local elections around Washington.

It’s still early, as county auditors continue to count mailed-in ballots over the days following Election Day on Tuesday. But here’s a look at where the initiatives stand as of early Wednesday.

Tenant protections  Both Tacoma and Bellingham had similar ballot measures intended to protect residential tenants.

As of Wednesday, voters in Tacoma were narrowly rejecting the initiative there. About 51.2% of people voted against it while 48.9% voted in favor.

Under the Tacoma proposal, landlords would have to give two notices to tenants before raising rent and at least six months notice of pending increases. And they would have to pay for relocation assistance if they make significant hikes. The measure would also prohibit landlords from evicting people during cold weather, or during the school year if a tenant is a student.

Pierce County will release an updated ballot count at 4 p.m. on Wednesday.

In Bellingham, voters were more supportive of renter protections. As of Wednesday, 58.4% of ballots were for the measure there, and 41.6% against it.

Under that initiative, landlords have to give 120 days notice for rent increases. Landlords also have to cover some relocation expenses if they raise rent 8% or more.

Homeless encampments

A Spokane initiative would put restrictions on the locations of homeless encampments, prohibiting them within 1,000 feet of any public or private school, public park, playground or licensed child care facility.

The measure is set to pass, with 75.4% of voters in favor of it as of Wednesday and 24.6% opposed.

But legal challenges against the initiative likely lay ahead.

Opponents say it goes against a 2018 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision that found local governments couldn’t ban camping on public property unless they could offer people in encampments another place to stay.

A lawsuit filed in August challenged the measure on grounds that the initiative would supersede the city’s authority. Backers of that suit sought to have the proposition removed from the ballot, but a Spokane County Superior Court judge denied the request.

Housing levy

In an effort to build more affordable housing, Seattle offered a ballot measure that would renew – and increase – the city’s housing levy.

The measure will likely pass. Almost 66% of people voted in favor of the proposition while 34% voted against it, according to results on Wednesday.

The proposition would renew the levy for another seven years and could raise more than $970 million. The revenue would fund housing and services for low-income households, seniors, people with disabilities and people who are unhoused.

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