Legislators hopeful on housing affordability in 2019

Whatever your ideas on how to solve Washington state’s housing crisis, we all agree on one thing: we need to do something.

Speaking to the sold-out crowd at the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties (MBAKS) Housing Solutions Breakfast this morning, sponsored by Seattle King County REALTORS®, Georgia Stevens of Compass shared stories of what it’s like to be working with clients in our market.

“Seventy-one percent of my clients this year have been buyers,” said Stevens, 2019 President-Elect for SKCR. “They’re working in Seattle and having to go as far as Bonney Lake and Gig Harbor to find something they can afford. And that’s tough on families, because you have far less time to spend with your kids.”

Legislators speaking at the event agreed that the mainstream workforce and first-time buyers who can’t afford to live near jobs centers are getting a bad deal.

The good news? Opportunities to increase housing affordability are here.

“Everybody on competing sides of this issue are saying the same thing – we have to increase housing supply,” said Senator Guy Palumbo (D-1st District). “There’s a lot of opportunity to get something really big done on housing next year, both policy- and funding-wise.”

Representative Tana Senn (D-41st District) introduced a condo reform bill in the Legislature last year. While that bill didn’t pass, it got the ball rolling on the condo liability issues that are holding developers back from producing entry- and mid-level condos that our market desperately needs. Senn said she is excited to continue working on the issue in the coming year.

Representative Joe Fitzgibbon (D-34th District) said he thinks minimum urban density, often opposed in single-family neighborhoods, is long overdue and he is ready to do some work in the Legislature on that this year.

“It’s easy to hate on Seattle,” said Fitzgibbon. “But, they’ve taken really aggressive steps to upzone around transit centers, and it has made a difference.”

“There are people who want to see more housing choices, more affordability, and more growth in areas that can support it,” said Fitzgibbon. “Engage those people, because they’re out there.”