Bipartisan Gregerson/Barkis ADU bill passes Senate

OLYMPIA— Washington state has a housing crisis. In the next 20 years, one million homes must be built to keep up with demand and the state is currently between 150,000 and 200,000 homes short of where it needs to be.

The housing affordability and security crisis is affecting every city and county in Washington. Residents in eastern and western Washington alike face a housing shortage, sky-rocketing rents, and unstable living conditions. There isn’t one magic solution to these problems. To solve this challenge, we must do three things: increase supply, stabilize rent, and support those that are still unable to afford housing.

Rep. Mia Gregerson (D-SeaTac) introduced HB 1337 earlier this Legislative Session with Republican colleague Rep. Andrew Barkis (R-Chehalis) to tackle the housing crisis head on. HB 1337 eases the construction and use of accessory dwelling units or ADUs, which Gregerson and Barkis believe will help solve the state’s housing crisis.

“We’ve been working together on this bill in one form or another since 2019 and it’s great to have such a terrific teammate in Rep. Barkis. I am extremely grateful for his dedication to this issue and working side-by-side with me for so many years until we got this important bill passed,” Gregerson said.

Who may benefit from living in an ADU?

“ADUs can fill several roles, like providing a place for an aging parent to live instead of a nursing home,” said Cathy MacCaul, AARP Washington Advocacy Director. In February, AARP and housing advocates set up a model ADU on the Capitol campus to help bring attention to the legislative effort to support flexible housing options for people of all ages. AARP surveys show that 75 percent of adults age 50 and older want to stay in their own homes and communities as they age. ADUs allow homeowners to choose where they age while providing a path to easing Washington’s severe housing shortage.

“ADUs can be used as living quarters for a caregiver or a relative who requires care, or for an adult child who may need to return home after college, has lost a job, or for one of many life-changing moments. ADUs can also be used for additional finances for someone on a fixed income,” added MacCaul.

“This bill is great for builders in the Greater Puget Sound area who are meeting the demand from consumers and homeowners,” said Alex Hur, speaking on behalf of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties, during a recent testimony in the Senate. “We want ADUs as an additional option—it’s good for folks who wish to age in place or to give people options to stay in their homes and create affordability, particularly in areas that are really desirable to live in,” he added.

HB 1337 passed the House on March 3; and today it passed the Senate with a vote of 39-7. It now heads back to the House for concurrence; and ultimately, to the Governor’s desk for his signature.