According to a recent Crosscut article, Seattle may have the highest rents statewide, but the most drastic percentage increases in rent over the past four to five years are in smaller cities and rural areas. It’s no wonder that housing costs and homelessness are seen as the most important issues confronting our state, according to a Department of Commerce and Puget Sound Regional Council survey. Read on to learn about some of the related bills moving through the Legislature.
Targeting Rent Increases
H.B. 1124 would require six month notice of rent increases over five percent and allow a tenant to terminate a tenancy without penalty for any rent increases of that level. This bill is in House Rules awaiting consideration by the full House. Last week, the House Committee on Housing approved H.B. 1389 which seeks to limit rent increases to within the rate of inflation. The bill’s Senate companion is S.B. 5435.
Requiring Minimum Development Densities
S.B. 5190 and H.B. 1110 would target housing supply by requiring certain cities to authorize minimum densities in residential zones, particularly in areas with certain amenities such as parks, transit access and schools. These bills would support ordinances such as the one adopted by the City of Olympia often referred to as the Missing Middle and which has been challenged in court. Both Senate and House bills have been approved by policy committees with amendments and have been referred to fiscal committees.
$4 Billion to Create More Housing
Governor Jay Inslee laid out an ambitious plan for housing creation, including a statewide voter referendum that would enable the state to raise $4 billion over the next six years by issuing bonds outside Washington’s debt limit. While the size of this proposal has given key legislators pause, Tacoma News Tribune columnist Matt Driscoll has favored this bold measure with a thumbs up editorial that also has appeared in other papers in Washington including in Walla Walla and Tri-Cities.
Heads Up for “Have a Heart for Kid’s Day”
On February 20, starting at 9 a.m, the Children’s Alliance will hold Have a Heart for Kids Day. At this virtual event, Children's Alliance policy staff will discuss their top priorities for the 2023 legislative session and conduct a virtual rally to gather and raise a collective voice for kids. Register here
United Way of Pierce County Holds a Successful Lobby Day
Approximately 14 staff and volunteers met with 19 Legislators over the course of February 11 promoting and discussing their policy agenda, including the $10.4 million request for ramped up funding for the 211 stateside network. 211 providers from central Washington and King County also joined this effort, meeting with their Legislators.