Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Welcome to the 2024 legislative session, which started last Monday and is scheduled to end on March 7. During this short 60-day session, I will continue to update you on the many issues we are facing in Washington, including the ongoing affordable housing crisis. We have been talking about this issue for several years, and some progress has been made. But there is still much work to be done.
According to the Washington State Department of Commerce, we need to add 1.1 million homes over the next 20 years and more than half of them need to be affordable for people at the lowest income levels. That means the state needs to produce nearly 100,000 units as soon as possible while also producing over 20,000 more per year to meet demand.
Rent Control: How Will it Really Affect Tenants
What they say it’s going to do – This legislation is a rent control bill, which supporters claim would help tenants by preventing landlords from arbitrarily raising their rents. They believe this would ultimately help create more affordable housing options. But is that really the case? There is a lot of evidence to the contrary.
What’s really going to happen – Based on an in-depth report from ECOnorthwest in December 2023, this bill would hurt our efforts to make housing more affordable for the people of Washington. Their study concludes that:
- Rent control laws can reduce the available supply of rental housing.
- Rent control policies can lead to higher rents in the uncontrolled market.
- Residents of rent-controlled units are less geographically and economically mobile.
- Rent control policies do a poor job of targeting benefits.
HB 2114 would actually lead to rent increases because it would allow big corporations to continuously raise their prices. It would also slow housing development and lead to less housing due to smaller landlords having to sell their properties because they can’t afford to hold onto them. See graphic below:
We’re offering a better solution – Republicans are offering some alternatives that provide real solutions, including House Bill 2033 from Rep. Greg Cheney, R-Battle Ground. This legislation, which I am co-sponsoring, would create a rent relief incentive program through which landlords can receive state property tax relief. The idea is a dollar-for-dollar match from the state for the income the landlord would be giving up.
A landlord who maintains the current rental agreement would receive 2% of the annual rent, while landlords who offer 3% or 7% decreases would receive back 4% and 7% of the annual rent, respectively. Landlords who charge rents up to 200% of fair-market rent would be eligible.
The bill is aimed at helping smaller landlords struggling to maintain their properties without raising rents. If tenants can’t afford to stay in their housing and landlords can’t afford to not raise rents due to inflation, Washington will lose housing stock from landlords selling their properties.
This is a positive solution that offers real relief. You can share your support by writing to members of the Housing Committee to let them know you’d like to see HB 2033 receive a hearing.
Housing Task Force Bill
In the meantime, I am running additional legislation on housing, House Bill 2008, which would create a legislative task force to analyze housing cost drivers. The housing cost driver analysis task force would include a member of each of the four caucuses in the Legislature.
It would also consist of several other stakeholders in the industry, including economists and members representing nonprofit housing, for-profit housing, public housing authorities, builders, realtors, labor, lenders, tenants, and landlords, to name just a few.
The goal of this task force is to get to the root of the problem by determining what factors are truly driving housing costs in Washington. We need to better understand the causes behind this issue before we can resolve them.
The task force would research, analyze, and determine the primary cost drivers for housing in Washington state, like rising property taxes, the cost to access utilities, workforce scarcity, increasing costs of supplies, and expensive regulations. HB 2008 was voted out of committee on Thursday. The next step in the process would be a vote on the House floor. I’ll keep you posted on any further progress.
You Can Still Make Your Voice Heard
Although the chance to testify on these bills has passed for now, it’s not too late to make your voice heard. There are several ways to share your testimony throughout this session, including providing written testimony for these bills. Just click on the links below.
- Testify in person in Olympia.
- Testify remotely.
- Make your position noted for the legislative record.
- Submit written testimony.
Stay Up to Date with Legislature
If you’re looking to learn more about how you can get involved in the legislative process, click here. A fantastic way to start is by subscribing to “The Week Ahead,” a list of bills identified by House Republican Caucus staff for their potential impact. Follow this link to access the latest issue, and on the far right-hand side, you can sign up to receive it every Friday throughout the session.
Thank You and Please Stay in Touch
Thank you again for allowing me to serve you. It’s an honor to represent the 16th District. I will continue to work on both sides of the aisle to find common ground and real solutions for Washingtonians. I’m here to listen so please continue reaching out. I look forward to hearing from you.
It is my honor to serve,