Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber CEO and President Andrea Reay visited Olympia this past Friday to testify in support of Washington’s 2023 Middle Housing Bill (E2SHB 1110). This bill, if successful, will open the door for more housing options for hundreds of thousands of families in Washington State, including right here in the South Sound. The bill seeks to “increase middle housing in areas traditionally dedicated to single-family housing.” This would set the stage for more affordable, dynamic housing options that are much needed in our region.
In her testimony before the Senate on Friday, Andrea Reay stated “Housing is a cornerstone for building an equitable economic ecosystem and the lack of housing makes it harder to attract and retain talent as we are still very much in a workforce shortage. We all know that production has not kept up with demand and we need creative solutions to this complex problem now to ensure we are able to continue to build generational wealth in and for the South Sound and the state.”
A representative from the Washington Department of Commerce also gave testimony in support of the bill. The legislation is also supported by the Association of Washington Business, the statewide chamber of commerce for Washington.
The Washington Department of Commerce recently released its housing needs projections showing that Washington will need to add over a million new homes over the next 20 years to meet population demand. This is a critical issue at play for our business community.
“37% of Washington State Employers report the lack of housing as a top priority,” Reay shared in her testimony, “Our state has the fewest number of housing units per household of any state in the county. Over the last 30 years, our population has grown by 60% but the number of housing units has increased by only 33%. We know we will need between 20,000 and 71,000 new housing units per year over the next 30 years to keep up with growth.”
The bill accounts for various factors such as the population size of cities, proximity to public transit, and unit affordability in determining what types of middle housing developments should be allowed in different areas throughout the state. You can learn the specific details and view the most recent version of the bill here.
From our CEO on behalf of the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber, “The coalition of supporters is broad, the legislation is a step in the right direction, the time is now, and I strongly urge your support.”
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