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February 2021

Expanding missing middle housing options a priority on Coalition's legislative agenda

February 4, 2021

Expanding missing middle housing options, such as detached and attached accessory dwelling units and multi-unit housing options that include duplex, triplex, and fourplex homes is one of the legislative priorities this year for the Coalition for More Housing Choices. Seattle King County REALTORS® is a member of the group, which includes a broad spectrum of Puget Sound regional leaders, civic organizations, businesses, labor, and nonprofits.

"This broad spectrum of housing choices fits a diverse range of needs from older adults wanting to age in place and grandparents wanting to live near their grandkids to students looking for affordable housing and families working to generate rental income on their property," the Coalition stated in outlining its legislative agenda for the 2021 session.

The Coalition believes parking requirements, onerous impact fees, owner occupancy requirements, and other regulatory deterrents should be reduced. Financial incentives, such as the Infill Dividend concept, should be included in legislation as inducements for local governments.

Other policy agenda items include:

  • Declare a housing emergency and enact a plan that increases funding for the affordable Housing Trust Fund, accelerates the transfer of city-owned property into the housing production pool, automatic extension of building permits, and other measures.
  • Renew the state's multifamily tax exemption program (MFTE) and find a long-term solution for MFTE to provide incentives and preserve affordability for much-needed housing statewide.
  • Request $240 million for the Housing Trust Fund in 2021 and establish a permanent revenue source for the HTF. Determining a dedicated permanent revenue source for the HTF would provide certainty for affordable housing providers.
  • Establish housing benefit districts, which would enable local governments to fund land acquisition around transit centers for housing that is affordable to a range of income levels, and ultimately advance racial and social justice in housing.
  • Continue funding for HB 1923 grants and expand the housing supply and affordability report. Such grants help develop sub area plans, streamline permitting, and amend development regulations to increase residential building capacity in Washington's most populous cities. The Coalition also calls for adequate and stable funding for the Washington Center for Real Estate Research's biennial report that compiles housing supply and affordability metrics for each city planning under the Growth Management Act with a population of 10,000 or more. Additionally, it suggests expanding the report to include an analytical element.

As part of its legislative endeavor, the Coalition highlighted several bills that would advance some of the more modest housing types. Among measures being tracked are HB 1337, HB 1157, SB 5235, SB 5269.

The Coalition's collaborative approach aims to remove barriers to more housing choices. Its advocacy is based on five principles: more housing options, environmental stewardship, equity, public finance & public/private partnerships, and regulator reforms.