Affordable housing updates

LOBBY DAY - Affordable Housing

Affordable housing bill needed for state employees because high rents “are making it difficult for them to survive”

1/23/18  Federation members and our allies countered opponents and made a strong case today for our priority affordable housing bill as a matter of survival for many state employees.

PHOTO (from left): Rod Palmquist, WFSE/AFSCME; Chris Genese, Washington Community Action Network; Tommy Fuglestad, Local 304, North Seattle College; Joelle Craft, WACAN; and Jim Hulse, Local 793, Western State Hospital.

“The price of housing in Seattle has skyrocketed and because of that it’s impacting a lot of state workers because their cost of living is not equal to wages,” Local 304 member Tommy Fuglestad testified on HB 2583 before the House Judiciary Committee this morning (Jan. 23).

The skyrocketing rents in King County and other high-cost areas of the state are “making it difficult for them to survive,” he said.

Fuglestad, who works at North Seattle College and is a member of the Federation’s Statewide Executive Board, was joined by members of Western State Hospital Local 793 in a show of support for the affordable housing bill.

High housing costs are forcing more and more state employees to move farther and farther away from their worksites with increasingly burdensome commute times, he said.

“And it’s more than just in Seattle,” Fuglestad said. “A lot of times many of them are forced to work more than one job to be able to make ends meet.”

HB 2583  would remove the state ban on rent control so local governments could have the option of regulating the amount of rent charged for single-family and multiple-unit residential rental structures.

“It gives cities the freedom to kind of look at all their different options and find local solutions to the housing crisis,” Local 304 President Alex Bacon said in an interview the night before on KOMO-TV.

Affordable housing legislation announced

1/10/18  Rep. Nicole Macri (43rd Dist.) at Seattle rally Tuesday (Dec. 5) announces she’s introducing legislation on affordable housing – after hearing the stories of WFSE/AFSCME members whose rent has gone up $600 a month in the past two years. 

Macri said 60 percent of her constituents are renters. Her bill would remove the state’s prohibition against rent control. It would allow local governments to enact rent controls, something they can’t do now because of state law.

“The state must work with local partners in order to really move the needle on housing affordability,” Macri said at the Freeway Park rally.

She thanked WFSE/AFSCME members who came to her for action.

“The gains that have been made at the bargaining table have been universally lost to the housing market,” Macri said.

Macri’s affordable housing bill now joins the regional compensation effort won by WFSE/AFSCME at the General Government and Community College Coalition bargaining tables. Formally known as a memorandum of understanding, it ensures the discussion of regional compensation continues. 

Not until the crisis of housing is addressed can any of us live with a real sense of dignity

12/6/17  From “(B)y impeding worker mobility and recruitment, “too-stringent housing regulations in high-wage, high-productivity cities” have resulted in “slower economic growth, fewer jobs,” “lower wages across the nation,” and ultimately “forgone gross domestic product” of $1.4 trillion.”

From the Seattle Times: Want a home in Seattle area? You’ll need an $11,000 raise

The Puget Sound region led the nation in home-price increases again, the 13th straight month that’s happened. In practical terms, buyers need to be making a lot more money to afford a mortgage.