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Washington legislators introduced dozens of bills to address the housing crisis – but only a few bills made it past deadline

The Washington State Capital

Washington legislators introduced dozens of bills to address the housing crisis – but only a few made it past deadline

Washington State is in a housing crisis. Home prices and rents in some communities have ballooned 20 to 30% in the last year. A slew of bills was introduced in the Washington Legislature to address the crisis, but only a handful will likely become law.

Many bills that sought to cut through local zoning restrictions died this session. Several, such as HB 1660 and HB 1711, would have made it easier to build accessory dwelling units, also known as garage apartments or cottages, in single family neighborhoods. Another, known as the Homes for Washington Act, HB 1782, would have required cities to allow middle housing, such as duplexes, within a quarter mile of transit centers. Oregon and California have both already passed similar legislation.

Cities argued those decisions should be made locally. Housing advocates and legislators who supported the bill, argue restrictive zoning by cities is making the housing crisis worse, and state action is needed.

Several bills that would have increased tenant protections also died. One would have given tenants the right to sue under the Consumer Protection Act, HB 2023, and another, HB 1904, would have limited late fees to $75 and required six-month notices for rent increases.

A few bills that would make it easier to finance projects did pass.

HB 1643 would create an additional tax exemption for non-profits and public housing authorities to develop affordable housing. Another, HB 1738, would increase the amount of debt the Washington Housing Finance Commission can accrue when issuing bonds for projects.

Both are awaiting the governor’s signature.

Rebecca White is a 2018 graduate of Edward R Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University. She's been a reporter at Spokane Public Radio since February 2021. She got her start interning at her hometown paper The Dayton Chronicle and previously covered county government at The Spokesman-Review.