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Published on Friday, January 15, 2016

Multiple affordable housing bills have hearings this week

As the second week of the session begins, a variety of proposals for local option tools to promote affordable housing are being heard in committees. This is an exciting development because a number of these proposals directly relate to AWC’s priority to address housing affordability this session.

One plank of AWCs human services, homelessness and housing priority is Kirkland’s demolition fee bill, HB 2397, which will be heard on Monday. The bill authorizes a local option fee of up to $5,000 per single family home or $2,500 per unit to a maximum of $25,000 for multifamily homes when they are getting demolished. Moneys collected must be deposited into a local affordable housing fund and used for that purpose. There are a series of exemptions provided as well.

Another plank of that priority, a recommendation from Seattle’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda, the affordable housing preservation property tax exemption bill, SB 6239 will be heard on Monday as well. Sponsored by Rep. Joe Fain (R–Auburn) this bill aims to give communities a local option property tax exemption to preserve and increase high quality affordable rental housing for very low-income households (50-60 percent of area median income).

Cities are authorized to provide an exemption from non-state property taxes for 15 to 18 years for properties that meet certain criteria. Among them include that at least 25 percent of units must meet affordability criteria, 90 percent of units must be occupied at the time of application, as well as a number of inspection, health, and safety criteria.

Also up for a hearing on Monday, HB 2395 authorizes cities to impose a conversion fee upon property owners who convert rental units into condominiums. The fees depend on the size of the building and range from $0.95 to $4.75 times the gross floor area. Revenues must be placed into a local affordable housing fund.

On Tuesday, HB 2442 sponsored by Rep. Sherry Appleton (D-Poulsbo) and promoted by the new King County Assessor John Arthur Wilson, will be heard in the House. This bill provides local authority to designate an affordable housing incentive zone where a 60 percent property tax exemption can be offered for single family or multifamily housing that is rented for less than 30 percent of the monthly household income of persons making up to 80 percent of the area median income. The exemption would be prorated for multifamily units commensurate with the number of units meeting that affordability threshold. This bill does not create a long-term affordability obligation nor does it contain inspection, health, or safety requirements.

Finally, Monday SB 6211 will be heard which provides a property tax exemption for property owned by nonprofits for the purposes of building one or more residences to be sold to low-income households, if the nonprofit sold at least one residence on the property to a low-income household within the last 10 years.

If you have thoughts or comments on any of these bills, please contact Carl Schroeder.