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SEATTLE TIMES OPINION: Pass bill to redress historic housing discrimination in WA

"The best way to assure generational wealth in America is through homeownership. It’s still considered the American dream.

But for many Black people in Washington, that’s a dream that faded. The same can be said for other people of color, though gains have been made over the past 60 years.

Now Washington’s Legislature is trying to close the homeownership gap between white people and people of color with the proposed Covenant Homeownership Act. Primarily sponsored by Rep. Jamila Taylor, D-Federal Way, with more than 40 co-sponsors, House Bill 1474 calls for the creation of an account that would assist eligible homebuyers with down payments and closing costs, a worthy goal at a time when home prices have shot beyond the reach of too many.

Up until 1968, there were hundreds of racially restrictive covenants throughout the state that forbade owners from selling their homes to some or all people of color or Jewish people, or banned people of color from living in certain neighborhoods. In preparing HB 1474, research found more than 40,000 deeds that still had racially restrictive covenant language, though they were no longer enforceable after 1968.

Under the bill, any first-time homebuyer belonging to one of the protected classes who has lived in Washington before April 1968, or their descendants, would be eligible for the loan program, provided they have an income at or below 100% of the average median income (AMI)."

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