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Ryu’s local tax revenue for housing and homelessness bill wins final approval by legislature

Ryu’s local tax revenue for housing and homelessness bill wins final approval by legislature

OLYMPIA—Cities and counties in Washington will have one more tool to deliver affordable housing and homelessness services following the state Senate’s bipartisan passage of House Bill 1070 by Rep. Cindy Ryu (D-Shoreline).

Legislation signed by Governor Inslee in 2019 allowed cities and counties to pass a local sales tax for construction of affordable housing, housing-related services, and behavioral health services. HB 1070 expands the allowable uses of revenues from this locally collected state sales tax to include the purchase of affordable housing, not just construction.

“We are making the existing tools and revenue options already available to local governments even more effective and even more cost efficient,” Said Rep. Ryu in floor remarks when the bill passed the House earlier in February.

She continued, “We have been working hard on increasing and investing in construction of affordable housing, and acquisitions of land and facilities can help deliver that housing faster. This legislation is particularly timely in the middle of this pandemic when the need for housing for people experiencing homelessness is more urgent than ever.”

Allowing the acquisition of facilities is critical to allow King County to implement the Health Through Housing Initiative which aims to provide behavioral health care and house up to 2,000 people experiencing homelessness in King County.

“Some hotel owners are looking for buyers, so creating this flexibility in allowing acquisition of facilities in addition to construction will help counties address homelessness by acquiring property where and when it makes sense,” said Rep. Ryu.

HB 1070 was designed to foster partnerships between cities and counties through consultation and by encouraging cities to devote 15% of services for residents of the city where they are located.