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Inside Olympia — Housing with Reps. Emily Alvarado and Andrew Barkis

This week host Austin Jenkins sits down for the full hour with State Representatives Emily Alvarado and Andrew Barkis to discuss one of the top issues facing the Legislature and our state: housing availability and affordability. Both representatives have worked on housing issues for years, before and during their time in the Legislature: Alvarado as director of the Seattle Office of Housing and as currently as a vice president for a national housing nonprofit; Barkis as long-time owner of a local residential property management firm.

The representatives agree on many things, especially those that would help the supply side of the housing equation, including changing zoning laws to allow for denser housing; making the permitting process quicker, less costly and more efficient; encouraging modular housing, which is relatively cheap and quick to bring online.

A major area of disagreement is a bill favored by majority Democrats at the Capitol to place limits on rent increases. Alvarado says renters don’t have the same cost stability as homeowners with a mortgage, are suffering from big rent increases, and need immediate help. Besides the bill to limit rent hikes, Democrats have introduced bills to raise the local property tax rate increase lid from 1% to 3%, and increase the real estate excise tax on properties over $3 million and put the proceeds toward housing.

Barkis says limiting rent increases wrongly messes with the market and won’t work. He says it will chase landlords out of the market, and that the Legislature needs to help landlords rather than targeting them with more regulations. 

That and much more about housing – on this week’s episode of Inside Olympia.