Governor signs Das bill to help organizations provide affordable housing

A bill signed on Monday (May 13) by Gov. Jay Inslee will help limit the costs of affordable housing by exempting self-help housing organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity, from the state’s real estate excise tax.

Senate Bill 5025, sponsored by Sen. Mona Das (D-Kent), would affect about 30 self-help housing organizations that operate throughout Washington. Annually, these organizations help produce 150 homes.

“We’ve all seen examples of these wonderful self-help programs making a difference in our communities, and we want that excellent work to continue,” Das said. “We have a growing homelessness crisis in our state. And while this bill won’t solve the whole problem, it will help hard-working people own their own homes and end the cycle of generational poverty.”

In this model, home buyers participate in the construction of their new homes. But in recent years, with the rising cost of land, materials and labor, these organizations have struggled to provide affordable housing for people in need.

“This is one of the most significant wins for affordable homeownership in the state of Washington in the last 20 years,” said Michone Preston, director of Habitat for Humanity of Washington State. “We look forward to putting this legislation to work and making the dream of affordable homeownership a reality for more members of our community.”

“We had a unique opportunity to empower non-profits who are helping working families realize their dream of homeownership this year and lawmakers acted,” said Rep. Mari Leavitt, who sponsored a similar bill in the state House of Representatives. “Exempting materials and third-party labor is an important tool to give more families the chance to own a home and I am grateful to Senator Das and the Legislature for passing this important measure.”