Following months of negotiations between local governments, financial institutions, homeowner advocates and lawmakers, the Legislature passed House Bill 1105 last week to help homeowners facing foreclosure after falling behind on property tax payments.
“Struggling families need new tools and support, especially considering many South King County communities have seen property taxes rise as much as 30 percent in recent years,” said bill sponsor Rep. Tina Orwall, D-Des Moines, in a news release. “One of the biggest issues we are facing is that even when a home is paid off, people are struggling to keep up with these increases. This is especially hard on those living on fixed income, including seniors, people of color, veterans and people with disabilities.”
The legislation creates protections for homeowners, which includes payment plan options and additional resources for the housing counseling hotline. Prior to passage, homeowners could not participate in a payment plan if they were late on payments during that year.
“No one should lose their home because of an inability to pay property taxes, and at time when homeless is on the rise, we need to be funding creative ways to keep people housed. I commend Rep. Orwall and her colleagues for working to address this issue,” said Jay Doran, Policy and Field campaign manager for the Statewide Poverty Action Network.
“This bill will make a big difference for homeowners,” said Denise Rodriguez, Washington Homeownership Resource Center executive director. “As the agency that operates the statewide foreclosure hotline, we’ve seen what a difference early and frequent notice makes for driving people to foreclosure prevention resources. Our hotline staff will be standing by to help homeowners connect with housing counseling, legal aid and tax relief programs to help resolve delinquencies, so they have a fighting chance to save their home.”
The House, which passed the bill in March, is expected to concur with the Senate’s version passed April 11 before sending the bill on to Gov. Jay Inslee to be signed into law.
The legislative session is scheduled to adjourn on April 28.