Rep. April Connors and Commissioner Hilary Franz celebrate unanimous passage of bill to help build affordable housing on public lands as it heads to governor’s desk

The Washington State Senate voted unanimously Thursday for a bill that would provide a new tax exemption to encourage the construction of affordable housing units on public lands.

The measure is now on its way to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.

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.

The aim of House Bill 2003 is to encourage lessees of these public lands to build affordable housing units. The measure would exempt them 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 would last 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 thrilled to see support from across the political spectrum for a commonsense, pro-housing policy change,” said Rep. April Connors, R-Kennewick, the bill’s sponsor. “Our state 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 is about making housing more accessible and affordable for Washington families.”  

“Today marks an incredible step forward in the fight to create more affordable housing across the state of Washington,” said Hilary Franz, Commissioner of Public Lands. “This bill will lower costs for developers and encourage them to build affordable housing on our public lands. We are in the midst of a housing crisis in our state, and we need every tool at our disposal to deliver for Washington families. This is another tool in our toolbox. I thank Representative Connors and for her leadership and applaud the Legislature for unanimously passing our bill and I look forward to helping developers across our state break ground on affordable housing units from Ocean Shores to Spokane.”

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


Washington State House Republican Communications