Governor signs housing bills

Monday, May 15, 2023

Gov. Jay Inslee signed legislation to remove obstacles to housing construction and another bill to help overcome the historic inequities caused by racist real estate covenants.

On Monday, May 8, 2023 Gov. Jay Inslee signed a slate of housing-related bills clearing obstacles to housing construction and righting a historic wrong related to housing discrimination.

As the state’s population has swelled, its housing stock has not, and prices have soared. To keep pace with expected growth, the state needs to build another million housing units by 2040. Inslee began the 2023 session with a call to “go big” on housing, and lawmakers responded by delivering smart policy and historic investments.

One new law, frequently referred to as the “middle housing bill,” essentially up-zones single-family lots in some cities to accommodate up to four units

Another law allows for more accessory dwelling units. New laws also consolidate permitting and streamline the design review process. Together, they will accelerate housing construction and improve inventory over time.

Inslee also signed a bill to establish a covenant homeownership account to assist homebuyers still harmed by the lingering legacy of racist real estate covenants

More than 40,000 covenants in effect as recently as 1960 excluded generations of people of color from owning property in communities across the state. An effect is a stark deficit in homeownership by people of color compared to their white neighbors with similar incomes.

The governor also signed bills to prevent landlords from raiding damage deposits over routine maintenance, and to afford tenants more say in eviction proceedings. Next week, the governor will sign a final budget including more than $1 billion over the next biennium to address homelessness and affordable housing.


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