Legislation aims to promote the construction of affordable housing on lands owned by the Department of Natural Resources

With population growth projections indicating that Washington state will need approximately 1.1 million new homes in the next 20 years, alongside the persistent affordable housing crisis, Rep. April Connors, R-Kennewick, has introduced House Bill 2003. This legislation aims to incentivize the development of affordable housing on public lands to accommodate the projected growth.

The bill proposes creating a tax exemption for developers who lease lands owned by the Washington state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for the purpose of building affordable housing units.

Under the proposed legislation, developers would be exempt from Washington state’s 12.84% leasehold excise tax for 12 years if they commit to renting or leasing a minimum of 20% of the housing units to low-income and moderate-income households.

If developers agree to lease 25% or more of the housing units to low-income and moderate-income households, they could be exempt from the tax for up to 20 years.

The DNR currently owns over 7,000 acres of “transition land” that cannot be logged due to its proximity to existing developments. Rep. Connors hopes that this legislation will help utilize this land effectively while also increasing the availability of affordable housing.

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Rep. Connors highlighted the pressing need for affordable housing, stating that Washington has the fewest housing units per household in the nation and almost half of renters spend one-third of their income on rent. She believes that HB 2003 could offer a solution to this problem, benefiting both the DNR and Washington families by making housing more accessible and affordable.

At present, HB 2003 is under consideration by the Washington state House Committee on Finance. This bill is one of three sponsored by Rep. Connors in this legislative session to address the affordable housing crisis.

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