Several historic housing bills passed the Washington state legislature this year, including one that would legalize "missing middle" housing on every lot in the state. I chat with Rep. Jessica Bateman, the bill's primary sponsor, about the growing coalition behind housing, the significance of the new legislation, and what's next for housing policy.
Hats off to the policy makers and advocates who are taking this on. Housing policies like these are essential, as ends in and of themselves. But, they are also, essential climate policies.
FYI re: labor and 1110--middle housing is built, of course, but not by union labor (in fact, there's a lot of wage theft in smaller construction projects). Only big projects are ever union, so when labor supports middle housing, it's likely because 1. they know it's needed and/or 2. they'd like to live in the city themselves, and know that it's currently unaffordable. Sadly, not all built things are built by those getting paid a living wage.
I’m so delighted that she is one of my representatives. She is a cool breath of fresh air on a blasting hot day.
Re: the fight over “affordable housing mandates” — basically, like so much else you write and talk about, at bottom it’s a trust issue.
Reps of minority and low income communities are constantly having to try to figure out how to get a slice of the pie for the people they represent. In a high trust environment, they could feel safe allowing as much missing middle housing to get built as fast as possible, because they could feel trust that they would not be left out from the benefits.
So, you see the problem. Because of our poisonous, low trust politics, the pro-housing coalition fractures around mandates to build “affordable” housing, which essentially is a kind of unicorn, since new construction has never anywhere been “affordable housing” —- affordable housing is formerly market rate housing that has drifted down the price curve.
The more reps we have like Jessica Bateman, the better off we will be, but given the pace of climate chaos starting to pick up, we need to be building not just for our existing population and housing deficit but we also need to be planning for the flood of climate refugees heading to the Pac NW. Here’s a sobering op-ed from the NYT (Unlocked) on point — we need a MASSIVE effort to anticipate and prepare for a bunch of dislocated people.