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SEATTLE TIMES EDITORIAL: WA’s new homeownership program must reach those it aims to help

Updated: 7 days ago


The Seattle Times editorial board

The state Legislature did its part last year to help repair decades of racial discrimination in housing by passing the Covenant Homeownership Act.

With the Covenant Homeownership Program set to launch this summer, potentially hundreds of families could realize the dream denied them, their parents or grandparents because of state-supported restrictive covenants. For decades before the passing of the 1968 Fair Housing Act, Washington had more than 55,000 properties that had restrictive deeds in hundreds of neighborhoods with discriminatory covenants that kept thousands of Black, Indigenous, Latino, Asian and other people from becoming homeowners.

Fast forward more than 50 years later, and the vestiges of such racism still loom, though the covenants are illegal. In 2022, white homeownership at 69% was more than double that of Black residents, the widest disparity among all racialized groups, according to a University of Washington study.

So, now is the time to make sure eligible future first-time homeowners know about the program and can use it to help build generational wealth that has benefited others for centuries.

That will require outreach and marketing to designated populations. Real estate companies should learn about the program and its eligibility rules and parameters. The state should saturate organizations that serve Black, Latino, Indigenous and Asian communities with information about the opportunity and make it available in several languages.

State Rep. Jamila Taylor, D-Federal Way, who shepherded the legislation through the Legislature, said that a formal marketing plan will include these things. She expects the state to reach out to groups such as Habitat for Humanity and HomeSight.

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