News As Usual, Props to Rep. Eric Pettigrew. And Surprise, Surprise: Props to Chopp!
posted by January 16 at 17:01 PMon
I’m in the habit of finding fault with state house Speaker Frank Chopp (D-43, Seattle), so let me take this opportunity to throw some flowers at him.
Given a clusterfuck of forces (the subprime crisis, the pending recession, and condo conversions), housing has emerged as a front-and-center issue for voters this year. And Speaker Chopp has made it clear he wants to take action.
While Governor Gregoire has proposed upping the Housing Trust Fund from $130 million to $180 million this session (a whopping nearly-40 percent increase), Chopp is getting kudos from low-income housing advocates for leading the fight to increase the fund to $230 million—a manna-from-heaven—76 percent increase.
Given that the word from Democrats is “no budget increases” this election-year session, if Speaker Chopp is in earnest about making this happen (and makes it happen), he’ll deserve high praise come March when thing wrap up here.
Meanwhile, housing and civil rights activists owe thanks to Slog-fave Rep. Eric Pettigrew (D-37, South Seattle) who’s bringing a bill to a vote on the house floor this Friday that will prevent landlords from discriminating against Section 8 tenants (i.e., not renting to them.) The practice—often a cover for racism—is illegal in Seattle, but it’s a problem in south King County and the rest of the state where it’s a-okay.
Section 8 vouchers work like this: Low-income renters who qualify pay 30 percent of their income on rent and the vouchers cover the difference in the total.
The Pettigrew bill passed the house last year, but got killed in the senate by some crummy amendments that caused the sponsors to drop the whole thing.
Another important housing bill coming up for a house vote—one that did not pass the house last year, is legislation that would prevent zoning regulations from dictating types of tenants. The bill is aimed at zoning law that exists in Tacoma, for example, that uses the law—typically about number of units, size, business, etc.—to prevent landlords from renting to what’s known as “service-enriched housing”—housing for victims of domestic violence, people with disabilities, the formerly homeless, people with mental-health issues, people with chemical-dependancy problems, and sex offenders.
This seems pretty unconstitutional to me, but it’s going on in Tacoma. Downtown planners intent on upgrading downtown have zoned out the property owner’s right to rent to people with disabilities, for example. (There are already municipal rules about sex-offender housing—distance from schools, etc.—but zoning laws are intended to define types of housing, not types of people.)
The bill is sponsored by Rep. Jeannie Dareille (D-27, Tacoma).