Since 2012, housing prices in King County have increased by more than 200 percent. The cost of living has spiked across our region, leaving many hardworking Washingtonians with limited access to affordable housing. The expensive Seattle housing market has placed mounting pressure on communities’ further north, as more and more workers get priced out of the market. These forces are driving up housing costs throughout the First Congressional District, leaving some families with the choice of long, costly commutes to work, or housing costs that consume most of their household income. For others, homeownership is not attainable, and the challenge of finding affordable rent is a constant struggle. Homelessness and housing insecurity remain a fact of life in our region, and we have an obligation to address this.
As a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, I have championed legislation like the Access to Affordable Housing Act, which would increase the Low Income Housing Credit (LIHTC) by 50 percent, translating to nearly 400,000 more affordable housing units over the next 10 years. Additionally, I’ve partnered with Majority Whip James Clyburn to introduce the Restoring Tax Credits for Affordable Housing Act, which would replenish 235,000 affordable housing units jeopardized by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (Pub.L. 115–97). Since its enactment in 1986, LIHTC has encouraged private sector development of more than 2.4 million affordable rental-housing units for low-income individuals and families.
Without access to affordable housing, many vulnerable individuals are at significant risk of homelessness. Research also shows that homelessness disproportionately impacts veterans. With more than 40,000 veterans in the First District, it’s imperative that we give veterans the ability to have a safe and affordable place to call home. I have fought to fully fund the Housing and Urban Development Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program, which combines Housing Choice Voucher rental assistance for homeless Veterans with case management and clinical services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). These boosted resources have given 163 veterans in King, Snohomish, Skagit, and Whatcom counties housing vouchers.
I am committed to fighting to ensure that every American has access to affordable, safe, and stable housing. Housing challenges impact everyone, from local businesses trying to hire and retain a qualified workforce to our hardworking families and young Americans with hopes of starting a family, to seniors who have worked their whole lives to retire with dignity. If we want to promote prosperity in our state and nation, we must put all ideas on the table. I will fight to make sure that we enact policies that ensure no American is left behind when it comes to having a place to call home.