House passes Rep. April Connors’ bill to help build affordable housing on public lands

The Washington State House of Representatives today voted overwhelmingly for Rep. April Connors’ bill to help build more housing.

House Bill 2003 would provide a new tax exemption to encourage the construction of affordable housing units on public lands.

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) owns more than 7,000 acres of “transition land” that it can’t use for timber harvests because of its close proximity to existing development. It can also be challenging for the state to sell or use the land.

Connors’ proposal aims to encourage lessees of these public lands to build affordable housing units. Her legislation would exempt these affordable housing projects from the state’s 12.84% leasehold excise tax when they commit to renting or leasing the housing units to low and moderate income households.

The exemption lasts the length of the lease if a lessee commits to maintaining affordable housing for low and moderate income families and leases the land for at least 20 years.

“I am grateful to see this legislation receive such strong, bipartisan support in the House,” said Connors. “Washington has the fewest housing units per household in the nation and nearly half of renters spend a third of their income on rent. This bill would help solve a real problem for DNR and make housing more accessible and affordable for everyday Washington families. It’s a win-win.”

Washington will need 1.1 million new homes over the next 20 years, according to the Washington State Department of Commerce:

“Many of the parcels of land owned by DNR were given to us when we established statehood,” added Connors. “Some of these smaller parcels – including 100 acres right in Pasco – are located inside cities and towns close to other homes and infrastructure.”  

House Bill 2003 is one of four bills Connors has sponsored to improve housing policy in Washington during the 2023-24 biennium.

  • House Bill 1070 added an exemption to the Residential Landlord-Tenant Act (RLTA) for residential leaseback agreements of up to three months. This bill was signed into law by the governor in April 2023.
  • House Bill 1633 also known as the “Home for Heroes” program, would have provided home down payment and closing cost assistance for critical workers like nurses, firefighters, law enforcement, military members, veterans, childcare providers, mental health professionals, and other first responders.  
  • House Bill 2158 would have amended the Growth Management Act (GMA) to allow cities and counties to expand urban growth area boundaries so that any parcel near a residential parcel with access to urban services can be developed for residential purposes.


Washington State House Republican Communications