We did it! The state legislature adjourned for the session Sunday, April 25 and it was truly a historic session for affordable housing and homelessness! Together, we achieved every single one of our priorities – and more – including:
- A new permanent fund source for rental assistance and efforts to prevent and end homelessness: House Bill 1277 adds a fee on real estate transactions like buying or refinancing a home and will raise almost $300 million over the next two years.
- Right to counsel: The Governor signed this last week, making Washington the first state to guarantee a lawyer for tenants in eviction court who are low-income or otherwise can’t afford one. The bill also requires repayment plans, bars landlords from refusing to rent to tenants who fell behind during the pandemic and provides an opportunity for mediation.
- Just cause: House Bill 1236 requires that landlords have a legitimate business reason to make someone move, ending the practice of giving tenants 20 day “no cause” notices. This closes a loophole in fair housing laws and will ensure that rental assistance doesn’t just pay back landlords but keeps people in their homes.
All combined $1.7 BILLION to address the housing needs of people in Washington, including:
- $350 million in the capital budget to build and preserve affordable homes, (including $175m for the Housing Trust Fund and $120m to acquire properties that can be quickly converted to housing or shelter)
- $658 million for rental assistance
- $187 million for foreclosure prevention
- $72 million for shelter and housing for people experiencing homelessness
- $27 million increase to the Housing and Essential Needs rental assistance program
- Check out our in depth Budget Crosswalks here and here.
Lead by our partners at Futurewise, House Bill 1220 prevents cities from banning shelters, transitional housing, or permanent supportive housing; requires jurisdictions planning under the Growth Management Act to identify policies that create racially disparate impacts, displacement, and exclusion – and to identify and implement policies to undo that harm.
Capital gains: The legislature passed a 7% excise tax on extraordinary profits from the sale of financial assets of over $250,000 per year. This tax would be paid almost exclusively by the richest 1% of Washingtonians and would generate more than $500 million per year. We participated in this coalition effort lead by the Washington State Budget and Policy Center, Balance our Tax Code Coalition, Invest in Washington Now, and many others who have been working for years to make our tax code more equitable.
We had incredible lawmakers fighting hard for these policies and investments, but these weren’t easy wins. What made this all possible was a powerful movement for housing justice. Every single bill we passed had fierce opposition and every time we asked you to take action, we did so because it was a critical moment when your voice would make a difference. And so many of stood up to make your voice heard:
- Nearly 3,000 advocates took action during the session
- Lawmakers together received over 20,000 emails from affordable housing advocates
- Over 1,000 organizations and over 3,800 individuals signed letters to lawmakers in support of our priorities
- Many thousands of you signed in to register your support for key bills
- Over 600 advocates attended our first ever 100% virtual Housing & Homelessness Advocacy Day
And all of this was on top of the YEARS of organizing and advocacy to build a strong and vocal movement that lawmakers are compelled to listen to. Without your support and advocacy, we would not have been able to create these historic changes to Washington’s laws and secure these historic budget investments!
Thank you so much for sticking with us through this session and continuing to fight for a Washington where everyone has a safe and affordable place to call home.