For immediate release: February 4, 2022 

Contact: Anna Fahey
Senior Director, Communications and Campaigns
[email protected], 206-447-1880 x116 

Olympia, WA — Three-fifths (61%) of voters in Washington state support legislation that would update zoning to allow more housing types across the state, with two-fifths (41%) expressing they support the law strongly, according to new polling completed by Lake Research Partners, commissioned by Sightline Institute. Support is particularly high among women (65%), Democrats (79%), and a majority of independents (60%).  

“These findings are not surprising,” says Cliff Cawthon, Sightline’s Pro-housing Coalition Strategy Manager. “We are well behind on building the homes we need—homes near jobs, schools, and transit; options for first-time buyers. From Seattle to Spokane, Vancouver to Anacortes, people are fed up, and they’re looking to their elected officials to lead on solutions.” 

Two-thirds of respondents also agree that Washington needs statewide standards to address the housing crisis and provide affordability solutions—this, as the Washington legislature is currently considering a potentially transformative “middle housing” bill that would ease the state’s crisis-level shortage of homes and open more affordable home options in areas of opportunity near jobs, schools, and transit, and more options for first-time homebuyers. As of February 3, HB 1782 has passed out of the Local Government committee, and now must be voted out of the House Appropriations Committee by February 7 to remain a feasible bill. 

“When comparing old redlining maps to modern day residential zoning maps, the picture is clear: nothing has changed. Washington state needs to take action today to address our affordability crisis, while simultaneously taking overdue steps to undo the racial discrimination built into our city rules,” says Ryan Donohue, Policy and Advocacy Director of Habitat for Humanity Seattle-King County. 

The poll also found that Washingtonians’ top two concerns were homelessness and the cost and availability of housing. Democratic and independent voters overwhelmingly agree that housing is a problem (84% and 74% respectively), as do a majority of Republicans (57%). And the agreement spans the state: Roughly three-quarters of residents in every region of Washington rate the housing situation as a serious problem, except for the Northeast (59%). 

Individual provisions from the middle housing bill are also popular, with 74% supporting the allowance of fourplexes (74%) and accessory dwelling units, like backyard cottages and granny flats (72%), in all large cities. Fully 72% of respondents support allowing sixplexes within a half-mile of transit stops in large cities, and nearly four-fifths (78%) appreciated that the measure could reduce car traffic and pollution by allowing more housing to be built near public transportation. Only one-fifth (22%) of respondents opposed the concept of zoning changes to allow middle housing, and 16% were undecided. 

View the Lake Research Partners memo on the poll findings. For further breakdown of topline figures, contact Sightline’s Senior Director of Communications and Campaigns, Anna Fahey, at [email protected]. Sightline discussion of HB 1782 is at sightline.org/wa-hb1782. 

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Sightline Institute is an independent, nonprofit think tank transforming Cascadia into a global model of sustainability. Learn more at sightline.org.

Triplex in Seattle's West Woodland neighborhood

Triplex in Seattle’s West Woodland neighborhood. Photo by Dan Bertolet

February 4, 2022