Published on May 20, 2019

Affordable housing takes center stage; slower year on homelessness

Contact: Carl Schroeder, Shannon McClelland

Coming into the 2019 session, AWC knew there would be a heightened focus on housing issues. Housing costs and lack of supply across the state had reached a critical level. A growing number of legislators were determined to make progress on the issue. After making significant strides on homelessness funding the previous session, we expected that the Legislature would turn their attention to housing on a broader scale. Large coalitions formed around the general concept of increasing supply—with the Washington REALTORS and Master Builders joining forces with elements of the non-profit housing community to urge the Legislature to increase supply, even by usurping local land use control if necessary. Meanwhile, AWC and others were gearing up for another push for an historic state and local revenue sharing proposal that died just short of the finish line last year (HB 1406).

We approached the session with a plan to be very engaged and supportive of efforts that would truly result in more affordable housing being built in our communities. Critical to that plan included to assertively educating legislators about where cities could play a role in helping bring affordable housing to reality, and to correct myths out there that city regulatory decisions were a major constraining factor.

On the policy front, we saw more bills on housing issues this year than in recent memory. And the range of ideas was considerable: tiny homes, mandatory density, plat processing timelines, accessory dwelling units, urban density, and condo liability reform were areas where we were most engaged. Reforms to the state’s complex liability statutes for condo developers was a critical priority for some cities and was a surprisingly smooth process that never hit any major stumbling blocks. On the key issue of local control this session, we found a solid bedrock of support for the premise that these were complex issues and local decision-making needed to be preserved. The mandatory density proposals died off quickly; and while the ADU and density bills (SB 5812 and HB 1923) at various points contained troubling mandates, neither chamber ultimately passed preemptory versions of those bills. With the help of city planning staff who went above and beyond in reviewing countless iterations of these bills, we were able to successfully show the Legislature the depth of effort that cities were already undertaking – as well as the inherently local and complex nature of the development market.

Regarding resources, it was a very successful session. As mentioned above, HB 1406’s passage represents a landmark investment from the state in local housing needs. All told, over a twenty-year commitment, the state will be sharing over $500 million with local governments, with broad latitude on how it can be invested – so long as it serves people making less than 60% of Area Median Income. The Legislature also made a $175 million investment in the Housing Trust Fund and authorized local governments to use REET revenues for housing. Unfortunately, we were not able to convince the House to extend to the smallest cities the ability to use the multifamily tax exemption program to incentivize apartment construction. While that was a disappointment, overall this was a very successful year on housing issues for cities.

The conversation on homelessness was a little less intense than in the last few years. There was a brief flurry of activity and concern as the House took up a “homeless bill of rights” that would have created a new cause of action for homeless individuals to sue the police for harassment or pestering, and created a new right to camp in public if other accommodations were not available. Although the bill advanced out of its policy committee, it did not move any further. We expect that there will be future conversations on this proposal.

A long running debate about the rights of religious institutions to host the homeless and the rights of cities to regulate those encampments was re-engaged this year. While there was progress towards an agreement that allowed grandfathering for cities who had related ordinances in place, a dispute about the rights of fire officials to require sprinklers in facilities that host encampments ultimately lead to the bill dying in the House. This perennial issue will likely come forward again.

City priorities – Outcomes

PRO – Invested $175 million in the Housing Trust Fund, a significant increase from the previous biennium for this critical housing program.

PRO – Created a $26 million annual local government revenue sharing tool (HB 1406).

PRO – Passed HB 1923, a voluntary and incentive-based proposal to promote urban density and infill.

PRO – Extended local authority to use REET for affordable housing (HB 1219).

PRO – Passed SB 5334, condominium liability reform to remove barriers to this housing option.

PRO – Funded a study of shared housing opportunities.

CON – Failed to pass a $1.5 million annual sales tax reinvestment program for multifamily housing (HB 1938).

CON – Failed to authorize smaller cities to use the multifamily tax exemption program (SB 5366).

Affordable housing bills

Bill #

Brief description


HB 1105

Protecting taxpayers from home foreclosure

Law; effective January 1, 2020

HB 1107

Nonprofit homeownership development

Law; effective July 28, 2019

HB 1219

Providing cities and counties authority to use real estate excise taxes to support affordable housing and homelessness projects

Law; effective July 28, 2019

HB 1290

Reviews of voluntary cleanups

Law; effective July 28, 2019

HB 1377

Requiring cities to offer a density bonus for affordable housing development on religious organization property

Law; effective July 28, 2019

HB 1406

Encouraging investments in affordable and supportive housing

Law; effective July 28, 2019

HB 1798

Short-term rentals

Law; effective July 28, 2019

HB 1923

Increasing urban residential building capacity

Law; effective July 28, 2019 except section 11, relating to the document recording surcharge, which takes effect July 1, 2019.

SB 5025

Creating sales and use and excise tax exemptions for self-help housing development

Delivered to Governor. If signed, effective October 1, 2019.

SB 5160

Property tax exemption for seniors, disabled, and veterans

Delivered to Governor. If signed, effective March 1, 2021.

SB 5334

Condominium liability reform

Law; effective July 28, 2019

SB 5383

Tiny house communities

Law; effective July 28, 2019

HB 1044

Property tax exemptions for seniors

Did not pass

HB 1090

Property tax rate for seniors

Did not pass

HB 1168

Sales and use and excise tax exemptions for self-help housing development

Did not pass

HB 1181

Providing property tax relief for senior citizens and qualifying veterans

Did not pass

HB 1206

Park models, tiny homes, and manufactured homes

Did not pass

HB 1207

Manufactured housing communities

Did not pass

HB 1306

Condominium warranties

Did not pass

HB 1320

Property tax exemptions for service-connected disabled veterans and senior citizens

Did not pass

HB 1493

Authorizing cities and counties to impose additional taxes for affordable housing

Did not pass

HB 1576

Condominium liability

Did not pass

HB 1581

Funding local housing trust fund programs in certain cities

Did not pass

HB 1590

Allowing the local sales and use tax for affordable housing to be imposed by a councilmanic authority

Did not pass

HB 1680

Local government infrastructure funding

Did not pass

HB 1690

Short subdivisions

Did not pass

HB 1745

Affordable housing options

Did not pass

HB 1797

ADU zoning

Did not pass

HB 1921

Addressing the regressive nature of the Washington state housing market

Did not pass

SB 5008

Short subdivisions

Did not pass

SB 5194

Urban growth boundaries

Did not pass

SB 5195

REET for housing and homelessness projects

Did not pass

SB 5219

Condo warranties

Did not pass

SB 5289

Nonprofit homeownership development

Did not pass

SB 5353

Redevelopment for transit density & multi-family tax exemption

Did not pass

SB 5357

Authorizing cities and counties to impose additional taxes for affordable housing

Did not pass

SB 5358

Affordable housing development on religious organization property

Did not pass

SB 5363

Extending the property tax exemption for new and rehabilitated multiple-unit dwellings in urban centers

Did not pass

SB 5366

Expanding the property tax exemption for new and rehabilitated multiple-unit dwellings in urban centers

Did not pass

SB 5372

Local project review undertaken under chapter 36.70B RCW

Did not pass

SB 5382

Tiny houses serving as ADUs

Did not pass

SB 5384

Location of tiny house communities

Did not pass

SB 5390

Providing property tax relief to preserve home ownership

Did not pass

SB 5424

Transit density standards

Did not pass

SB 5440

The housing element of comprehensive plans required under GMA

Did not pass

SB 5646

Encouraging investments in affordable and supportive housing

Did not pass

SB 5788

Local government infrastructure funding

Did not pass

SB 5802

Establishing housing affordability zones

Did not pass

SB 5870

Short-term rentals

Did not pass

SB 5812

ADU zoning

Did not pass

SB 5951

Tax incentives to encourage residential and mixed-use development in urban infill areas

Did not pass

Homelessness & human services bills

Bill #

Brief description


HB 1591

Homeless rights

Did not pass

HB 1745

Homeless hosting by religious organizations

Did not pass

SB 5261

Hiring homeless for local beautification projects

Did not pass

SB 5644

Homeless hosting by religious organization

Did not pass

SB 5722

Homeless housing & assistance

Did not pass

SB 5882

Homeless encampments near schools

Did not pass

SB 5946

Exempts temporary shelters and encampments from SEPA

Did not pass

  • Session recap
  • Homelessness & human services
  • Affordable housing
  • Advocacy


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  • Wrongful death bill passes Senate

  • Proposal to allow tiny house communities passes Senate

  • Animal fighting bill advances

  • Public works bills passed House and heading to Senate

  • Plastic bag and straw bills pass Senate

  • On-site sewage systems bill passes Senate

  • Two condo liability reform bills switch to other chamber

  • Found property bill passes House

  • House heard proposed changes to Voting Rights Act

  • Focus is on floor action, while budget challenges continue to loom

  • Proposed changes to Voting Rights Act pass Senate

  • Density bill gets worse for cities coming out of the Appropriations Committee

  • Status of bills on homelessness at cutoff

  • Status of affordable housing bills at cutoff

  • Summary of environmental bills after first cutoff deadlines

  • Status of public safety and criminal justice bills

  • Union dues bills progress in Legislature

  • Delivery robot bills move out of House and Senate transportation committees

  • Motorized foot scooter regulation bills move forward

  • Wrongful death bills advance

  • Cannabis bills that have died

  • L&I responds to AWC petition for emergency prevailing wage rulemaking

  • Some cannabis bills advance

  • SEPA exemption bill for temporary shelters and encampments continues to move

  • Round up of land use bills after cutoff

  • Governor’s broadband bills on the move

  • Local government records reporting bill advances

  • Wayfair implementation increases city sales tax collections

  • Bill reauthorizes tax structure work group and adds city voice

  • First cutoff passes – Now it’s time to start talking about the budget

  • AWC testifies in opposition to pension bill

  • State bank proposal introduced, but fails to advance

  • Legislature to hold hearings on I-976, limiting state and local taxes, fees, and TBDs

  • New 10-year transportation funding package proposed in the Senate

  • U.S. Supreme Court decides excessive fines forfeiture case against state

  • Pavement condition data reporting bill set for public hearing

  • Senate transportation network company bill set for hearing has preemptive provisions

  • Modernization of government procurement update

  • Call to action on AWC’s economic development bill

  • Legislative records bill dies in committee, but several others move forward

  • Clarifying “piggybacking” requirements

  • ADU bills diverge in the House and the Senate

  • House substitute version of density bill passes first hurdle

  • Fiscal committees begin hearing housing priority bills

  • Bill aims to codify Boise case on rights of homeless to survive

  • Bill addressing impaired driving continues to move

  • Bill that proposes to modernize business crimes passes House

  • Bill to help survivors of trafficking and prostitution passes out of House

  • Legislature approaches first cutoff deadline as Olympia thaws out

  • New “livability” density bill introduced, will be heard this week

  • AWC priority housing investment bills continue to move and need your support!

  • Another graduated REET for housing bill

  • Another set of ADU bills

  • Bill incentivizes cities to establish housing affordability zones

  • Bill would create community forest grant program

  • After a snow delay, Multifamily Tax Exemption bills will be heard

  • Substitute version of HPA and bulkheads bill moves forward

  • Senate version of plastic packaging stewardship bill on the move

  • Updates on public disclosure exemption bills

  • House committee to hear bill on local government ranked choice voting

  • Public hearing held on legislative records bill

  • Opioid treatment bills advance, adds requirements for jails

  • Bill to address placement of sexually violent predators scheduled for hearing

  • PERS 1 COLA bill gets public hearing rescheduled

  • Bills to address hate crimes and add criteria for protection orders

  • Legislation to protect minors from sexual exploitation

  • Bills to protect animals scheduled for public hearings

  • Bill makes changes to driving with a suspended license laws

  • Motorized foot scooter companion bill

  • Utility lien bill gets new title and bill number

  • Hauler recycling bill up for a hearing in the Senate

  • State considers opportunities to reinvest in critical infrastructure challenges

  • Bill to allow municipal cannabis retail gets a hearing

  • Snow closes the Capitol

  • Motorized foot scooter bill to be heard this week

  • Watch testimony on one of AWC’s priorities – culvert funding

  • Bill to regulate religious homeless encampments returns

  • Bill would create a new legal framework for short-term rentals

  • Bill restricts annexation covenants for utility services

  • Companion short plat bill will be heard

  • B&O tax filer deadline to align with federal tax day

  • Bill expanding uses for city traffic safety cameras set for hearing

  • Bill to require public fleets to become electric by late 2020s

  • Bill would turn Public Works Trust Fund into State Infrastructure Bank

  • Public records inspection availability bill set for hearing

  • House to hear bill on restricting weapons in libraries and parks

  • AWC’s economic development bill amended and voted out of committee

  • Hearing set for legislative public records bill

  • Bill makes changes to Growth Management Hearings Board

  • Local tax flexibility

  • Proposed changes to public works bidding process

  • Public works contracting bill updates

  • Companion Park Benefit District bill gets a hearing

  • Bills to restore Public Works Trust Fund for infrastructure receive hearings

  • Small city Multifamily Tax Exemption bill to be heard in Ways & Means

  • Basic Law Enforcement Academy wait times reduction bill moves

  • Paid Family & Medical Leave technical fix bill gets second hearing

  • First-responder occupational disease bills get hearings

  • Committee to hear bill on PERS 1 COLA

  • House’s version of a housing and density bill is introduced

  • Bill would help fire departments recover cleanup costs

  • Firearm seizure and restricted access related to domestic violence and protection orders

  • Preemption of cities ability to impose employee-based taxes

  • Bill proposing community service for litterers advances

  • AGO request bill would consolidate traffic LFOs

  • New bills would restore PWTF resources

  • Recycling market response bills offer a mix of solutions

  • Open meetings bill scheduled for public hearing

  • Bill proposes new requirement on state paid stormwater fees

  • Municipal electric utilities planning efforts for transportation electrification

  • Proposal to increase fines for violators of High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes

  • Bills to secure funding for the Transportation Improvement Board

  • Proposed changes to city pavement conditions reports

  • Cities banned from attaching some utility liens

  • Bills related to union dues collection and union security scheduled for hearings

  • Bill prohibiting employers from seeking salary history scheduled for hearing

  • Survey for elected officials on experiences with Target Zero

  • Proposal to change GMA urban services definition

  • GMA housing element expansion bill

  • Tiny homes bill receives a hearing

  • AWC-supported public records bill scheduled for hearing

  • New local housing revenue ideas emerge

  • Bills affecting public works contracting thresholds

  • A new minimum density bill, with implications for Sound Transit

  • Bill to authorize financing for local government infrastructure

  • Two Sunshine Committee bills scheduled for Friday hearing

  • Legislature to hear bills restricting government use of new technologies

  • Law enforcement behavioral health grant bill gets public hearing

  • Bill creating efficiencies in adoption of council-manager government scheduled for hearing

  • Cities testify in support of AWC’s economic development priority bill

  • Nonprofit homeownership development companion bill will be heard

  • Senate version of wrongful death bill advances

  • Bill regulates use of automated license plate recognition systems

  • Bill authorizes creation of a municipal police district

  • Bill allows local governments to receive a cannabis retail license

  • Call before you dig bill

  • 2018 Lodging tax expenditure data reporting site now open

  • I-940 “fix” bill passes Legislature

  • Simplification of B&O tax apportionment

  • More than 1,400 bills have been introduced so far in 2019

  • Three bills address barriers to building condos

  • Governor’s request energy efficiency bill up for a hearing

  • Smoke alarm bill may create unfunded mandate

  • Orca task force recommendation bill on HPA and bulkheads

  • Self-help housing bill has House companion

  • REET bill introduced in the House

  • The House adds more bills expanding property tax exemption for affordable housing

  • Bills addressing affordable housing development by religious organizations

  • AWC priority bill encouraging investments in affordable & supportive housing

  • Bill streamlines annexations of unincorporated islands

  • “Best available science” for critical area planning bill is heard

  • Bill proposes changes to mobile home park home siting

  • Cannabis home grow and delivery bills to be heard

  • Food truck bill gets a hearing

  • I-940 “fix” bill passes the House

  • Bill authorizes regulation of the open carrying of firearms in public meetings

  • Senate version of wrongful death bill advances

  • Two pension bills scheduled for public hearings

  • Legislators introduce Governor’s behavioral health bills

  • Rural development and opportunity zone act scheduled for hearing

  • Committee will hold hearing on broadband expansion bill

  • AWC economic development priority bill set for public hearing

  • AWC seeking city feedback on facial recognition privacy bill

  • Treasurer’s proposal to provide enhanced investment services

  • Bills address voluntary cleanup of contaminated properties

  • Prohibition on local governments’ toll authority

  • Military surplus vehicle bill to be heard

  • Creation of parks benefit districts provides new revenue options

  • Hearings on sidewalk delivery devices

  • Bill allows certain cities to directly impose lodging tax

  • Work underway to address “unintended consequences” of prevailing wage changes

  • 2019 Legislative Session starts off with a fast pace

  • Bill creates a private right of action for motorcycle profiling

  • Chemical Action Plans bill scheduled for Thursday

  • Foreclosure protection efforts continue this session

  • Several bills address the proliferation of plastics

  • Proposed changes to the Voting Rights Act

  • Several bills expand property tax exemption for affordable housing

  • Self-help housing sales tax and REET exemption bill up for a hearing

  • Bill proposes to extend city authority to use REET for housing and homelessness

  • Wrongful death bills are back this year

  • Bill proposes to raise the burden of proof in forfeiture hearings

  • Bill proposing community service for litterers gets a hearing

  • Senate version of public defense funding bill will be heard

  • A flurry of Growth Management Act bills in the Senate

  • Bill to reduce wait time for basic law enforcement training gets a hearing

  • Public works small works roster bill to be heard

  • FMSIB annual report

  • Transportation cameras bill allows use in prosecution of crimes

  • Senate Remote Testimony Pilot Program expanded to public

  • Bill restricting cannabis business siting is scheduled for a committee vote

  • Cannabis home grows bill gets a hearing

  • I-940 “fix” bills are on the fast track

  • Senate work session on draft transportation package

  • Washington infrastructure receives a “C” grade

  • Adult family home bi