A global pandemic, overdue racial reckoning, and the heat of climate change are all magnifying how essential housing and community resources are to giving people the freedom to make the best life for them and their families. Sadly, those community resources, especially safe and fair housing, are in short supply. To ensure that neighborhoods grow to be healthy, racially equitable, and resilient enough to thrive through change, we must enable communities, right now, to plan for and invest in their future.

Sunset Court, Renton
Photo Credit: William Wright Photography

Extensive coordinated planning, and substantive, varied public funding mechanisms are the norm for transportation projects. Why not housing and community development? Transportation Benefit Districts were created by the State Legislature as an option for local governments to fund transportation improvements that were a part of local, regional, or state transportation plans. Since then, over 100 Transportation Benefit Districts have formed across the State, collecting revenue for important transportation improvements.

Replicating the success of Transportation Benefit Districts, Housing Benefit Districts (HBD) will enable local governments to fund the acquisition of land around transit centers for low-income and middle-income housing and community development projects. Housing Benefit Districts will also ensure that we get the most out of our region’s $60 Billion public investments in transportation by promoting thoughtful, coordinated housing and complete, walkable neighborhoods around transit stations.

What You Need to Know

What is a Housing Benefit District (HBD)?
A tool that cities and counties can use to plan for and fund land assembly and predevelopment infrastructure work for affordable housing near major transit stops.

What are the benefits to communities?
Communities will be able to conduct planning that ensures equitable economic outcomes, particularly for low-income households and Black, Indigenous, People of Color households. Communities will also be able to acquire land and invest in infrastructure development.

How is affordable housing development ensured?
The value accretion from jurisdictions’ investment in infrastructure, and the acquisition and assembly of parcels early in the market cycle, will enable jurisdictions to sell a majority of that land at a discount for the construction of low-income (0-80% AMI) and workforce (80-120% AMI) housing, in accordance with affordability restrictions.

What are the prerequisites for establishing an HBD?
To ensure that resources go to jurisdictions that are committed to urban residential capacity best practices, HBDs can be established by jurisdictions that have a housing action plan that includes two elements to increase urban residential capacity.

How are HBD programs funded?
Taxing and bonding authority including a local sales and use tax not to exceed 0.2 percent, and a property tax up to $1 per $1,000 in assessed value. Authority to issue general obligation bonds up to 1.5 percent of the value of taxable property in the district, and up to 5 percent of the taxable value of property for capital purposes.

Who provides oversight and technical assistance for HBDs?
To support local communities and to ensure that station area plans are consistent with regional growth strategies and with the vision of complete communities, seven advisory board members appointed by the Governor will form a state-wide Advisory Board.

Where can I read the bill and track bill progress?
At the Washington State Legislature Website here.