Bellwether has collaborated with state officials and other housing and service providers to increase future opportunities for affordable apartments. See below for ways that you can help to advocate with us for better laws and policies for affordable housing. 

Our Upcoming Advocacy Priorities

  1. Mobilize support for the renewal of the Seattle Housing Levy in 2023.

  2. Pass an Eastside Housing Levy in 2022, creating a new fund.

  3. Mobilize for a transformational 2023 Comprehensive Plan in City of Seattle so apartments can be built in all neighborhoods served by frequent transit.

  4. Pass the federal Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2021. This bipartisan bill would dramatically increase federal support for developing new affordable housing.

  5. Increase State funding of the Housing Trust Fund and establish a permanent funding source for it.

Our Advocacy Agenda

  • Expand resources for housing at the local, state, and federal level.

  • Increase housing density so more homes can be built near transit and in high opportunity neighborhoods in urban King County.

  • Lower development and ownership costs to speed housing development and decrease operating costs.

  • Preserve and expand other supports for the most vulnerable people in our communities, such as rental assistance, emergency eviction moratoriums, vouchers, and other service programs.

  • Improve long term sustainability of our work and the work of other nonprofit housing and human service organizations

Advocate for Affordable Housing

Housing Policy Wins

Housing Policy Wins

2021

City of Seattle

Allocated $49.2M from the American Rescue Plan funds for housing and homelessness services. This included $1M to support resident services in non-permanent supportive housing.

 

Rezoned properties owned by faith-based organizations. Allows for extra height and density in return for homes for households with incomes under 60% AMI (Annual Median Income).

 

Renamed “single-family zoning” to “neighborhood residential zoning,” in advance of major rezoning in the 2023 Comprehensive Plan.

 

 

King County

Acquired over 850 homes for chronically homeless people through the Health Through Housing 0.1% sales tax.  Another 750 homes will be purchased.

 

 

State of Washington Legislature

 

Allocated $175M for the Housing Trust Fund.

 

Allocated $120M for Shelter Rapid Acquisition; a new fund to acquire hotels, motels, and multifamily housing for use as emergency shelter and permanent supportive housing.

 

Amended the housing element of the Growth Management Act. This sets the stage for major Comprehensive Plan updates by cities and counties in 2023 (HB 1220).

 

Funded $42M in grants for utility connections for affordable housing developments. Focuses on rural and suburban areas with limited existing utility infrastructure.

 

Enacted a $100 document recording fee. This funds $280M in rental assistance and operations for permanent supportive housing.

 

Funded housing through the operating budget at a historic level:

 

  • $130M for Housing and Essential Needs

  • $187M for foreclosure prevention;

  • $37M for operations, maintenance, and services for permanent supportive housing;

  • $20M for long-term vouchers for people with behavioral health or substance abuse disorders.

 

Passed a bill to create a soft landing for the eviction moratorium (SB 5160). This creates a legal right to counsel for tenants facing eviction, requires payment plans for past due rent, and extends some emergency pandemic protections.

 

Federal

The federal government allocated $21.5 billion for rental assistance through the American Rescue Plan Act, helping low-income renters stay in their homes.

2020

Local

Seattle passed the JumpStart payroll tax, which will raise over $214 million per year, mostly for affordable housing at 0-50% Area Median Income.

King County passed the Health Through Housing 0.1% sales tax, which will generate $60 million per year to provide housing for up to 2,000 chronically homeless people.

 
State

Housing Trust Fund was funded at a historically high level. Affordable housing and homelessness resources included in the final budgets totaled $174 million.

SHB 1590 passed, providing cities and counties the ability to implement the local sales and use tax for affordable housing councilmanically (see Health Through Housing above).

SHB 2343 passed, expanding the list of planning actions that cities are encouraged to take to increase residential building capacity.

SHB 2384 passed, expanding the property tax exemption for affordable housing providers.

$5 million allocated for the Housing Needs Pilot Program to provide rent assistance to elderly or disabled adults on Supplemental Security Income

Federal

CARES Act funded $100 billion in rental assistance.

December 2020 COVID relief omnibus funded an additional $25 billion for rental assistance, to be disbursed in 2021.

Established a minimum 4% rate for the 4% Low Income Housing Tax Credit at 4% (has ranged between 3% and 3.3% since 2012), effectively expanding tax credit equity by one-third.

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How you can get involved

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