Senate approves Hawkins’ workforce housing bill

Senate Bill 5868 now heads to the House of Representatives.

A bill sponsored by 12th District Sen. Brad Hawkins to assist local governments with affordable workforce housing “infrastructure or facilities” was approved 41-8 by the Washington state Senate today.

Senate Bill 5868 would expand the permissible uses of the rural county public facilities sales and use tax to include affordable workforce housing. Hawkins’ bill adjusts the statute related to this existing tax without adding to the tax itself or extending the tax.

Hawkins said his bill would provide a new tool to address the affordable-housing crisis in Leavenworth, Chelan and other communities throughout the state.

“The people who provide essential services in many of our local communities are finding it increasingly difficult to actually live there and available houses are quickly being purchased as second homes or short-term rentals,” said Hawkins. “With every passing month, a community like Leavenworth is essentially losing its sense of community. That’s heartbreaking, and it’s why I’ve worked with leaders in that community and others in our district to find a steady revenue stream for this growing problem.”

The bill is supported by numerous groups, including the city of Leavenworth, Upper Valley MEND, Chelan Valley Housing Trust, Chelan County commissioners, Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce, Washington State Hospitality Association, TwispWorks, and others.

The Senate Housing and Local Government Committee passed the legislation unanimously on Jan. 27.

SB 5868 now advances to the House of Representatives for consideration where it is expected to receive a hearing before the House Local Government Committee.