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Impact By State

Washington

Overview

Like many other parts of the country, Washington's rapid growth has resulted in significant housing affordability challenges. Combatting housing affordability issues in the state will require holistic solutions that address the needs of all Washington residents.

Washington has seen a sharp population increase, with 12.1% growth since 2010.

More than 977,900 Washingtonians call an apartment home, with demand on the rise.

71% of extremely low-income renters spend more than half of their income on housing.

Between now and 2030, Washington will need to add 9,787 new apartment homes each year to keep up with demand.

Legal Landscape

Legal Landscape

The state of Washington preempts residential rent control. According to Washington legislation, “No city or town of any class may enact, maintain, or enforce ordinances or other provisions which regulate the amount of rent to be charged for single-family or multiple-unit residential rental structures or sites other than properties in public ownership, under public management, or properties providing low-income rental housing under joint public-private agreements for the financing or provision of such low-income rental housing.”

Washington
CONTINUE PREEMPTION

Rent control is an outdated concept. It benefits the very few—and not necessarily those in greatest need.

REJECT PRICE CONTROLS

Lawmakers should reject price controls and, instead, pursue alternatives such as voucher-based rental assistance for those in greatest need to better address housing affordability.

Alternative Approaches

Many states have adopted programs and initiatives to tackle the affordability crisis. In Washington, policymakers and the housing industry have made concerted efforts to address the problem. Examples include:

Washington Trust Fund

The state’s Housing Trust Fund funds affordable housing projects through a competitive process throughout the state. The program has supported the creation and preservation of 47,000 affordable homes statewide over the past 30 years.

Seattle Housing Levy

In 2016, Seattle voters approved a seven year, $290 million program that develops and preserves affordable housing. In addition, the program provides direct assistance to families at immediate risk of eviction and homelessness.

Seattle Multifamily Property Tax Exemption (MFTE)

The MFTE program provides a tax exemption on new multifamily communities that voluntary set aside 20-25% of apartments to be rent and income restricted.

Mandatory Housing Affordability

Seattle’s city council voted to pass an upzoning measure known as Mandatory Housing Affordability in March 2019. The measure enacts requirements for building affordable housing and taller residential buildings in 27 neighborhoods throughout Seattle. The goal is to provide at least 6,000 new rent and income-restricted, income-restricted homes for low-income people.

Resources

Useful information to help address the housing affordability crisis.

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