New! – Housing Element Guidebook 2018 Update

Cities and counties planning under the Growth Management Act (GMA) must include a housing element in their comprehensive plans. The GMA housing goal calls for promoting a variety of residential densities and housing types, encouraging the availability of affordable housing for all economic segments of the population, and preservation of existing housing stock. Countywide planning policies are to consider the need for affordable housing – identified as a regional issue.

Counties and cities develop a housing element ensuring vitality and character of established residential neighborhoods. The housing element must contain at least the following features:

A. An inventory and analysis of existing and projected housing needs that identifies the number of housing units necessary to manage projected growth.

B. A statement of the goals, policies, and objectives for the preservation, improvement, and development of housing, including single-family residences.

C. Identification of sufficient land for housing, including, but not limited to, government-assisted housing, housing for low-income families, manufactured housing, multifamily housing, group homes and foster care facilities.

D. Adequate provisions for existing and projected housing needs of all economic segments of the community.

The GMA also set standards such that certain classes of housing and residents are to be treated equally. This includes housing for the disabled (RCW 36.70A.410), family daycare providers RCW (36.70A.450) and manufactured housing (RCW 35.21.684).


Growth Management Act Housing Goal – RCW 36.70A.020
Growth Management Act Housing Element – RCW 36.70A.070(2) and WAC 365-196-410
Affordable Housing Incentive Programs – RCW 36.70A.540

NSP and GMA Housing Planning Guidebook: Lessons for Future Housing Plans, 2014 (PDF)

Multi-Unit Housing Tax Exemption, ESSHB 1910, 2007
ESSHB 1910 Legislation RCW 84.14

Multi-Unit Housing Tax Incentive Program Annual Report Form (DOC)