Gov. Jay Inslee’s budget proposal for 2023-25 includes a referendum that would allow legislators to front-load $4 billion of housing construction over the next six years. The fast-track construction plan recognizes the need to create more than 1 million housing units “for households of all incomes” by 2044.
According to a recently released report highlighting the proposed budget and policies, the governor is proposing a statewide voter referendum as the “cornerstone of the governor’s 2023-25 housing and homelessness plan.” It would enable the state to raise $4 billion over the next six years by issuing bonds outside Washington’s debt limit. No tax or fee increases are included in the proposal.
The state had a housing deficit of 81,400 units as of 2021, according to the governor’s report.
The referendum, which requires approval by legislators and voters, anticipates adding around 5,300 units between 2023-25, plus 19,000 in the following three biennia. The underlying capital budget will fund approximately 2,200 units in 2023-25.
As part of the proposal, the governor calls for $1.3 billion in state capital and homelessness initiatives. His agenda has seven focus areas encompassing more than two dozen items with most of the spending allocated to the Commerce department:
Proposed investments for housing and homelessness (2023-25 biennial)
|Focus Area||# of Items||Agency||Amount|
|Increase Housing Trust Fund and investment in affordable housing||6||Commerce||$698,000,000|
|Accelerate creation of affordable housing||5||Commerce||$270,000,000|
|Expedite permitting and increase capacity||3||Commerce, Ecology||$37,259,000|
|Maintain current levels of housing and homelessness services||7||Commerce, WSDOT||$296,800,000|
|Planning for housing supply||2||Commerce and local governments||$21,400,000|
|Address homeownership disparities (with BIPOC homeownership organizations)||1||Commerce||$5,000,000|
|Behavioral health housing supports||2||Health Care Authority, Commerce||$23,600,000|
Within the focus area for accelerating the creation of affordable housing is $75 million for a new transit-oriented housing development partnership, $50 million for an affordable workforce housing accelerator pilot program, and $35 million for land acquisition for affordable housing.
The proposal also allocates $15 million for consolidated permit review and another $4 million to streamline permitting.
Noting Washington is fifth in the nation for under-production of housing, the authors of the report break down the types of homes needed to meet the expected demand of 1 million additional homes by 2044. More than half the allowance is for affordable housing for households under 50% of the area median income;
Types of homes needed:
Units for temporary emergency housing/shelter: 91,706
Units for extremely low-income households that also need support services (permanent supportive housing): 116,114
Units for low-income households at or below 50% area median income (AMI): 409,472
Units for households that earn greater than 50-100% AMI: 196,074
Units for households that earn more than 100% AMI: 379,937
By early 2023, the Department of Commerce plans to publish data on projected housing needs for each county. This first-ever projection will include the anticipated needs for moderate, very low and extremely low-income households.
“The scale of Washington’s housing shortage and resulting homelessness can only be solved by speeding up construction of thousands more housing units – from emergency housing to multifamily developments and affordable housing,” the governor’s report states.
The governor’s 2023-25 budget proposals also outline plans for climate, salmon recovery, education, public safety, state workforce, and more.