WA Senate passes "missing middle" bill to increase housing density

House Bill 1110 is one of several proposals this year intended to ease an affordability crisis across Washington due to a statewide shortage.

A picture of lawmakers at work on the floor of the Washington Senate.

Lawmakers work in the Senate chamber at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

The Washington Senate on Tuesday passed a key bill to increase housing density to stem a stark statewide shortage of homes that is expected to grow worse by the year.

Lawmakers approved House Bill 1110 on a vote of 35-14, with seven Republicans joining most Democrats to approve the measure. The version that passed is less ambitious than earlier iterations, but broadly orders cities across the state to allow duplexes to be built. Among other things, the bill also broadly requires fourplexes to be built in cities with more than 75,000 people.

The Association of Washington Cities, which had opposed the legislation last year, worked with bill sponsor Rep. Jessica Bateman, D-Olympia, and supports the current version.

HB 1110 now goes back to the House for a vote on the amended version.

Washington currently faces a deficit of hundreds of thousands of homes and apartments, increasing the price of both renting and property ownership.

That problem is projected to get worse: State officials estimate another 1 million housing units will be required in the next two decades to keep up with growth. Other than locking working families out of wealth-building and stability, housing costs can also play a significant role in pushing some people into homelessness.

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