THE HOUSING PROBLEMS IN OUR STATE: LOBBY DAY REPORTS BY LT GOVERNOR DENNY HECK
PRESIDENT OF THE WASHINGTON STATE SENATE
2021 HOUSING REPORTS
WASHINGTON STATE’S HOUSING AFFORDABILITY CRISIS
Washington’s housing market is unquestionably in crisis. Prices are rising across the state and all types of housing, from units for higher-income families to affordable housing. Homes are becoming increasingly scarce, expensive, and out of reach for every Washingtonian. This is a story we are hearing again and again from every constituent stakeholder in the market—from realtors, contractors, construction companies, builders, and homebuyers. Despite our robust state economy, families across Washington are struggling to afford their most basic needs: a roof over their heads and four walls around them.
This report details the current state of Washington’s housing crisis— how large the crisis is, where exactly our shortage lies, housing unaffordability’s most pertinent implications, and its potential causes. The bottom line is clear: our housing affordability crisis affects every Washingtonian, and something must be done.
THE RACIAL WEALTH GAP IS THE HOUSING GAP
The adverse impacts of the racial wealth gap do not stop with Americans of color. When a large swathe of our population is kept from homeownership and from full economic participation, the entire economy suffers. This has tangible economic implications for communities across America. The racial wealth gap is the housing gap—and both gaps, if left unresolved, will continue to cost the nation trillions of dollars (and will cost Washington State billions of dollars) with each passing year.
Even as owning a home in America has long been a central tenet of the American Dream, certain segments of the American population have been systemically locked out of the chance of homeownership. A history of housing and labor market discrimination has positioned Americans of color—and in particular, Black, Indigenous, and Hispanic Americans—to be long underrepresented in homeownership rates and to be disproportionately impacted by the nation’s housing affordability crisis. Unequivocally, inequitable access to housing is the key driver of the racial wealth gap in America today.