Nathan Gorton is the Government Relations Director for Washington State Realtors. He joins us as a “Wire Insider” to discuss policy frameworks for combating the housing affordability crisis in communities across Washington State.
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So as the Government Affairs Director for Washington Realtors, we are really engaged on housing issues and especially the affordability crisis we’re seeing in communities all across the state.
There was a bill that was passed last session, HB 1923 — Rep. Fitzgibbon worked on it very hard along with Rep. Barkis and others — that really encouraged local communities to look at ways to provide missing middle-housing, so it incentivized them, gave them some grant funding to pass local ordinances and exempted them from some legal requirements and really encouraged local communities to take a look at ways that can bring density into their cities in a responsible way. Over 30 cities have applied and received grants all across our state, so we’re seeing that work. It was hopefully just the start of a string of these sorts of bills and I know that in the state legislature, Rep. Fitzgibbon is going to have sort of a son of 1923 that will take that to the next level.
And I think more generally, the Legislature last year really started looking at housing affordability and the housing issue in a more cohesive way. I think in the past when they looked at housing issues they just focused on homelessness, and while homelessness is certainly an important issue, it’s a symptom of the broken housing market. Looking at it in a more global way and looking at how we can supply first time home ownership housing, affordable rentals for people 80-100% of the AGI as well as subsidize people who are on the lower end, and having that as one cohesive policy; i’m excited to continue talking about that.”