Tiny Homes

During the 2019 legislative session, addressing our state’s housing affordability crisis was paramount. Unfortunately, the only solutions that were adopted nibbled around the edges of the problem and in some cases made the problem worse with new taxes on housing. The Tacoma News Tribune lauded efforts to expand tiny homes in our region as a way to solve the crisis, but that missed the mark. See below for a letter that I sent them.

The recent editorial on tiny houses addressing affordability in our region misses the mark.

Tiny-home developments are not a small step forward but rather a sidestep; they are about warehousing people without actually addressing the affordability of single-family housing.

The much-touted Quixote Village tiny-home development in Olympia isn’t necessarily a model to replicate. Taxpayers subsidized it to the tune of $3.1 million, an exorbitant cost per person being housed. Losses compound due to administrative overhead costs and lost property tax revenue. There is a better way.

A recent non-partisan study in the Legislature showed that non-profits are 23% more expensive than private sector builders are. We need to incentivize private enterprise to build economical housing geared toward homeownership. I offered a proposal this legislative session to spur construction of affordable starter homes by waiving fees, limiting permit costs and offering a tax credit. The bottom line is we can house families and generate property tax revenue by building affordable homes.

You can’t make housing more affordable by raising taxes on real-estate transactions and construction-related services, which the majority side did. That’s a step backwards on making housing affordable.