Rep. Chris Gildon, R-Puyallup, has introduced two bills that would help increase the supply of affordable housing in Washington state.
Both bills are based on a recent study conducted by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee (JLARC) to analyze development costs associated with low-income housing.
The study resulted in three key recommendations:
- The Washington State Housing Finance Commission (WSHFC) should identify and evaluate options for increasing the involvement of for-profit developers and report findings.
- The Department of Commerce (Commerce) should collect final development cost data from Housing Trust Fund recipients to improve cost controls.
- Both Commerce and the WSHFC should report development cost data to the Legislature annually.
Gildon’s bills would implement these recommendations.
House Bill 2010 would direct the WSHFC to research and evaluate options to increase participation of for-profit developers in the Commission’s 9 percent Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program (LIHTC), which provides tax incentives to builders of affordable multifamily housing.
In the study, JLARC found that for-profit developers could develop the same unit for 13 percent less than non-profit builders, and 22 percent less than governmental agencies. However, for-profit builders have not participated in the LIHTC since 2013.
“We have a housing shortage, and more and more of our residents need access to affordable homes,” said Gildon. “We must use all the tools at our disposal, including encouraging development by for-profit builders.”
JLARC also found Commerce has not been collecting final development costs from Housing Trust Fund recipients, which has made it more difficult to evaluate impacts on taxpayers.
Gildon’s second bill, House Bill 2011, seeks to reduce cost drivers by requiring development-cost data to be collected. It would also direct the state auditor to evaluate the performance of the WSHFC in meeting its housing finance objectives in the most cost-effective and efficient way.
“Government agencies exist to serve taxpayers. Commerce should be collecting this data to know exactly how much money is being spent, and share its findings with the public,” he said. “House Bill 2011 is a good accountability measure that will help provide more insight into housing costs and help us find ways to reduce those costs.”
Both bills have public hearings scheduled in the House Housing, Community Development and Veterans Committee on Wednesday, Feb. 20, at 8 a.m.
Gildon is the assistant ranking Republican of the House Housing, Community Development and Veterans Committee.