OLYMPIA – Earlier today, the Washington State House of Representatives passed legislation seeking to address the direct harms caused by racially restrictive real estate covenants. House Bill 1474, sponsored by Rep. Jamila Taylor (D-Federal Way), passed the House on a vote of 53-43.
Generations of systemic, racist, and discriminatory policies have formed barriers to homeownership for Black, Indigenous, and people of color and other historically marginalized communities in Washington state. Historically, redlining, racially restrictive covenants, mortgage subsidies and incentives, and displacement have been explicitly outlined practices. To date, racially restricted covenants have been identified in more than 40,000 property deeds across the state. Consequently, the target groups still feel the impact of this discrimination today, and it is especially pronounced in Black communities. Homeownership for people of color and other marginalized communities is 19% below that of white households (Dept. Of Commerce, 2022), and the homeownership rate for Black households is even lower.
House Bill 1474 seeks to address those harms by establishing a covenant homeownership account and program to provide down payment and closing cost assistance to groups of people identified in a covenant homeownership program study. Participants must also be first-time homebuyers with income limitations and meet other criteria.
“The deliberate and harmful barriers preventing Black homeownership impact intergenerational wealth and housing security. Because this racial discrimination was targeted, the solution must also be targeted,” said Rep. Taylor. “To truly right the wrongs of the past, our policies require focused and thoughtful solutions.”