Washington State Legislature Could Continue Housing Reforms in 2024

2023 saw some victories and some setbacks for housing advocates. Lawmakers plan to continue the fight in 2024.

2 minute read

January 4, 2024, 12:00 PM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Aerial view of downtown Seattle, Washington.

edb3_16 / Adobe Stock

Writing in The Urbanist, Ryan Packer describes the outlook for housing bills in this year’s Washington state legislative session. “With local governments still trying to get a handle on the full impact of the changes around zoning and permitting laws that the legislature passed earlier this year, many state lawmakers currently getting ready to head back to Olympia to begin the 2024 session want to see this upcoming year turn the ‘year of housing’ into a two-parter.”

Pro-housing legislators want to see a continued focus on bills that improve housing affordability and increase supply, including a bill supporting transit-oriented development that wasn’t passed before the end of last year’s legislative session. As Packer explains, “Housing advocates see targeted transit-oriented development as an essential piece of the puzzle that’s missing right now.”

The new TOD bill targets development around rail and bus rapid transit (BRT) lines, which Packer notes could lead to investment in areas with as-yet-unbuilt rail stations while ignoring neighborhoods with existing, frequent bus service.

Other priorities for Washington housing reform in 2024 include rent stabilization, which failed to get much traction in the legislature last year, and dedicated state revenue streams for affordable housing. A bill introduced in 2023 would create a new $5 million threshold for the state’s real estate excise tax (REET) to fund affordable housing. Another proposal would make single room occupancy (SRO) buildings legal once again to support affordable co-living options and low-income housing.

Tuesday, January 2, 2024 in The Urbanist

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