Realtors support bi-partisan bill to improve housing affordability , address homelessness
OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Washington REALTORS® Association is a strong proponent of SB 5254, a measure introduced in this year’s state legislative session to address homelessness and the lack of affordable housing due to low housing inventory and a steep increase in homes prices.
Unofficially known as the “Washington SHARES Act” (supporting housing affordability and real estate supply), the bill has garnered bi-partisan support starting with its sponsors: Sen. Joe Fain, R-Auburn, Sen. Guy Palumbo, D-Maltby, Sen. Hans Zeiger, R-Puyallup, Sen. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, Sen. Mark Mullet D-Issaquah. SB 5254 was heard last week in the state Senate’s Local Government committee.
“We worked with Sen. Fain, Sen. Palumbo and others to focus on the challenges with both the supply of buildable land and the supply of housing,” explained Washington REALTORS® Public Policy Director Bill Clarke to the Senate committee. “Whether it is housing for those who want to buy a house or rent an apartment, or for the homeless who need public assistance, our intent is to balance GMA and market rate housing issues with low-income and homelessness needs.”
The hearing also drew testimony from representatives of affordable housing and homelessness programs, builders, rental housing, the state Commerce Department, counties and cities. Several conveyed their appreciation for the bill’s purpose.
“Homelessness and lack of housing affordability is reaching a crisis state across Washington,” Carl Schroeder of the Association of Washington Cities told the committee. Schroeder expressed support of the intent and some elements of the large, multi-faceted bill. “We believe it is time to address these issues in a way that works for all concerned parties.”
SB 5254 has several elements that include changes to growth management planning to ensure sufficient buildable land is available for housing demand, a property tax exemption to preserve affordable housing for low income households, an extension of the document recording surcharge and flexibility of the use of the real estate excise tax for homelessness programs.
“Realtors are passionate about improving opportunities to own or rent a home, so people have a decent roof over their heads,” says Margo Wheeler Willis, current president of the Washington REALTORS®. “Realtors have worked tirelessly, many of us serving on affordable housing boards or as volunteers for non-profits, to clear obstacles to housing and resolve homelessness in our communities across the state. We believe this legislation will help do that, too.”
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For more information and interviews, please contact Nathan Gorton, Government Affairs Director for Washington Realtors, (360) 561-7700.
“REALTOR® is a federally registered collective membership mark which identifies a real estate practitioner who is a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics.”