OLYMPIA, Wash. — For decades in the 20th century, developers could restrict who could live in neighborhoods.
Phrases barring owners “other than the white race… except servants” were commonly placed in homeowner covenants.
While that practice was outlawed in 1968, Lt. Gov. Denny Heck said the impact of the racist policies are still felt today.
Heck testified in favor of a bill to create a new $100 fee on all new home purchases that would be added to an account to help the same communities hurt by past racist covenants.
The fund would generate an estimated $100 million every year, said Rep. Frank Chopp (D-Dist. 43), one of the bill’s sponsors.
Chopp said recipients would receive a loan from the state. It would have to be paid back upon the sale of the home.
Heck said rules that prohibited communities of color from purchasing homes led to a lack of generational wealth and are to blame for low homeownership today.
“We did this, we can undo it,” said Heck.
The funding would be available to those excluded by the racist language who either lived in the state before 1968 or are descendants of someone who lived in Washington prior to that year.
Rep. Jamila Taylor, (D-Dist. 30), is the prime sponsor of House Bill 1474.
”We’ve seen the compounding of all these practices, policies, and laws, have led to where we are right now and we are not making traction,” said Taylor.
Realtors and developers testified in favor of the bill in Olympia Monday afternoon.
Advocates for affordable housing said the “exciting” law would be the first of its kind in the nation.
”Today what we are about to do with this bill is enable government who has been responsible for creating a lot of the discriminatory policies to actually remedy the wrong,” said Patience Malaba, Executive Director of the Housing Development Consortium in King County.