Tech 4 Housing Policy Principles

Tech 4 Housing’s advocacy work is founded on three core policy goals:

  • Legalize Housing

    We support efforts to allow more housing and a greater diversity of housing types across all urban areas.

  • Invest in Affordability

    We support efforts to increase public and private investment in low- and middle-income housing and to reduce barriers to low- and middle-income housing production.

  • Protect Vulnerable Communities

    We support efforts to protect and empower renters, marginalized communities and people experiencing homelessness.

Washington State Legislative Priorities

Update: The Washington State legislative session ended on April 28. It was a strong year for housing legislation, in no small part because of the work of dedicated advocates across the state making their voices heard in Olympia. For more details please see Washington Legislative Session Recap: Big Wins for Housing in 2019.

The 2019 legislative session includes an unusually large number of important housing bills, reflecting a growing acknowledgement of the urgency of solving the housing crisis statewide. Our priorities include:

Legalize Housing

Require local action to increase housing capacity: HB 1923 would require local jurisdictions to pick from a menu of options for increasing housing capacity. Options include increasing housing capacity around light rail stops; opening up some single-family zones to duplexes, triplexes, courtyard apartments or accessory dwelling units; implementing affordable housing requirements on new construction; or reducing parking requirements near mass transit. This law could help to ensure that every city is doing its part to accommodate our growing population.

Encourage ownership options in multifamily buildings: HB 1306 / SB 5334 would reform condo liability laws that currently push virtually all new multifamily buildings towards rental housing. This law will restore a balance of ownership and rental options in new multifamily buildings.

Legalize Accessory Dwelling Units: HB 1797 / SB 5812 would encourage cities and counties to allow accessory dwelling units, such as backyard cottages and basement apartments, in current single-family zones. This law would encourage gentle infill development in single-family neighborhoods across the state that generally don't allow any new housing today.

Legalize Tiny Houses: SB 5382 and SB 5383 would legalize tiny houses—small but permanent structures with electricity and plumbing. This law would mean that the growing tiny house movement would no longer have to operate in a legal grey area.

Invest in Affordability

Extend tax incentives for mixed-income buildings: Current law allows local jurisdictions to offer tax incentives for new construction that includes middle-income housing. SB 5363 would allow local jurisdictions to extend the tax incentives and affordable housing requirements beyond the 12 year period currently allowed. This will keep up to 7,000 affordable homes from expiring out of the program over the next decade.

Real Estate Excise Tax for affordable housing: HB 1921 would change the current fixed-rate tax on real estate transactions to one that is progressive—moderately priced homes would see a tax reduction and multi-million dollar properties would see a tax increase. The additional revenue would be dedicated to building affordable housing.

Use existing sales tax revenue for affordable housing: HB 1406 / SB 5646 would allow local jurisdictions to fund affordable housing by retaining a small portion of the local sales tax revenue that currently goes to the State.

Expand the Housing Trust Fund: The State's current capital investment in affordable housing is well below historic funding levels. Doubling that investment to $200M would greatly increase the production of affordable housing across the State.

Protect Vulnerable Communities

Eviction Reform: HB 1656 / SB 5733 would reform the eviction process, increasing the notice time needed between a late payment and starting eviction proceedings to 14 days, from the mere 3 days currently required. Evictions are one of the leading triggers of homelessness, and helping people stay in their current homes is one of the cheapest and most effective ways of combating homelessness.

Decriminalize Homelessness: HB 1591 would codify that simply existing in public space while homeless cannot be prosecuted as a criminal act if the person has no reasonable alternative and no shelter is available. This aligns the law with accepted best practices, which regard criminal prosecution as an expensive and ineffective tool for addressing homelessness.

City of Seattle Priorities

In addition to the priorities below, Tech 4 Housing is raising awareness of the upcoming City Council elections and candidate positions and facilitating dialog between candidates and the tech community.

Legalize Housing

Remove restrictions on Accessory Dwelling Units: While technically legal, restrictions on backyard cottages and basement apartments mean that very few are actually built. Loosening requirements will produce an estimated 3,700 of these relatively inexpensive housing options over the next decade, in neighborhoods where new housing is otherwise currently banned.

Invest in Affordability

Mandatory Housing Affordability: Seattle's signature affordable housing policy is almost over the finish line, with passage expected this March. The policy would change zoning to allow more housing in all multifamily areas of the city and require that all new construction contribute affordable housing. Over the next 20 years the changes could produce over 20,000 more homes, including over 6,000 homes for low-income households.

Build affordable housing at Ft. Lawton: For almost 15 years the City of Seattle has been trying to build affordable housing on surplus public land at Ft. Lawton in Magnolia. In an all-too-typical story, residents have sued multiple times to delay the project and keep affordable housing out of Magnolia, one of the city’s wealthiest neighborhoods. The City has pushed through the final round of legal appeals, and could in the coming months approve the plan to build 238 affordable homes, including senior housing and affordable home ownership options.

Protect Vulnerable Communities

Complete a Racial Equity Toolkit analysis of Seattle’s growth strategy: In preparation for Comprehensive Plan updates in 2020, the City is considering conducting a racial equity analysis of the Urban Village growth strategy that's been in place since the 1990s. The outreach and analysis in this process would help Seattle to move towards addressing the racism and exclusion that have characterised past land use policies.