Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill Monday that will help limit the costs of affordable housing by exempting self-help housing organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity, from the state’s real estate excise tax.
Senate Bill 5025, sponsored by Sen. Mona Das, D-Kent, 47th District, would affect about 30 self-help housing organizations that operate throughout Washington. Annually, these organizations help produce 150 homes.
“We’ve all seen examples of these wonderful self-help programs making a difference in our communities, and we want that excellent work to continue,” Das said. “We have a growing homelessness crisis in our state. And while this bill won’t solve the whole problem, it will help hard-working people own their own homes and end the cycle of generational poverty.”
In this model, home buyers participate in the construction of their new homes. But in recent years, with the rising cost of land, materials and labor, these organizations have struggled to provide affordable housing for people in need.
“This is one of the most significant wins for affordable homeownership in the state of Washington in the last 20 years,” said Michone Preston, director of Habitat for Humanity of Washington State. “We look forward to putting this legislation to work and making the dream of affordable homeownership a reality for more members of our community.”
“We had a unique opportunity to empower non-profits who are helping working families realize their dream of homeownership this year and lawmakers acted,” said Rep. Mari Leavitt, D-University Place, who sponsored a similar bill in the state House of Representatives. “Exempting materials and third-party labor is an important tool to give more families the chance to own a home and I am grateful to Sen. Das and the Legislature for passing this important measure.”
Inslee signed a bill Monday that will help Washington prepare for the inevitable: natural disasters.
Senate Bill 5106, sponsored by Das, creates a work group to study and make recommendations regarding natural disaster resiliency activities. This work group would review how other states and the federal government prepare for natural disasters — in particular, the California Earthquake Authority.
“We’ve all heard that our next big earthquake, or ‘The Big One,’ is on the horizon,” Das said. “We must do everything we can to prepare, and make sure our state is resilient.”
The work group will consist of 24 members, from various state agencies, local public utility districts, tribes and stakeholders. A preliminary report from this group is due in November of 2019, and the final report is due in December of 2020.
The House and Senate unanimously passed the bill.
“Washington state is prone to natural disasters including earthquakes, floods, landslides, and wildfires,” Das said. “We’ve seen an increase in these events because of climate change. We need to act now to ensure we’re fully prepared.”