Updating GMA Housing Elements

Planning for Housing in Washington state

In 2021, the Washington Legislature changed the way communities are required to plan for housing. House Bill 1220 (HB 1220) amended the Growth Management Act (GMA) to instruct local governments to “plan and accommodate” for housing affordable to all income levels. This significantly strengthens the previous goal, which was to encourage affordable housing.

The 2021 housing laws document has more information on the requirements of HB 1220. 

House Bill 1220

Commerce will provide guidance to communities to meet the new housing goal and updated requirements for housing elements in RCW 36.70A.070(2). This includes:

  1. Projected housing needs for all economic segments of the population (moderate, low, very low and extremely low income). Projections will be provided at the county level and must be incorporated into local planning efforts. This includes projected need for emergency housing, emergency shelters and permanent supportive housing.
  2. Guidance on provisions for moderate density housing options within an Urban Growth Area (UGA), including but not limited to duplexes, triplexes and townhomes.
  3. Guidance on reviewing for adequate housing for existing and projected needs for all economic segments of the community, including sufficient land capacity for all projected housing. This includes guidance on how to assess zoning and regulations to allow, encourage and incentivize housing to meet the projected housing needs in each income band.
  4. Guidance on examining racially disparate impacts, displacement and exclusion in housing policies and regulations, and recommended policies to address them.

Work Plan and Project Schedules

The work will be broken into two projects with overlapping goals and timelines:

  1. Projected Housing Needs and associated policies and guidance
    1. Methodology for projecting housing needs (January-October 2022)
    2. Final projected housing needs at the countywide level (October-December 2022) (Data delayed due to delay in 2020 Census results)
    3. Recommendations for allocating countywide projected needs among jurisdictions and allocation tool (January-July 2022)
    4. Recommendations for reviewing capacity for housing (August-November 2022)
    5. Recommendations for policies for housing element updates (August-December 2022)
    6. Training webinars (December 2022-February 2023)
  2. Racially Disparate Impacts
    1. Recommendations for addressing racially disparate impacts (April-June 2022)
    2. Recommendations on how to begin to undo past impacts and prevent displacement (July-September 2022)
    3. Stakeholder open house (September 2022) 
    4. Training webinar (November 2022)

Public Input Opportunities

In addition to advisory committees, there will be opportunities for public comment on both projects as materials are developed. Public input opportunities on developed material will begin in June with the release of the allocation guidance for sharing countywide projected housing needs among jurisdictions. Updates will be provided on this page when this and other input opportunities are available. 

To sign up for project updates, including notifications when public review drafts are available, sign up for the project updates on the right hand side of this page under “Subscribe.” 

Project Materials

HB 1220 Project One-Page Overview (Aug 2022) (PDF)
HB 1220 Overview PowerPoint (PPT)

Special Housing Types and HB 1220 (Sections 3-5) (PPT) – HB 1220 also required jurisdictions to update their development regulations with respect to transitional housing, permanent supportive housing, emergency shelters and emergency housing. This PowerPoint provides an overview of these new requirements, more information about these special housing types, what local governments have done in response, and considerations and supports for jurisdictions undertaking this work. The video presentation of this material is available herethe recording starts at 1:07:30. Please contact Mary Reinbold with questions (509-638-5449, mary.reinbold@commerce.wa.gov)

Public Review Drafts
DRAFT Guidance for Allocating Projected Countywide Housing Needs to Local Jurisdictions (comments due Aug. 26)
DRAFT Housing Needs Allocation Tool (HNAT) (comments due Aug. 26)

Advisor Committee Meeting Materials
Advisory Committee members (PDF)
Advisory Committee Meeting #1 Presentation (PDF) – project overview and allocation guidance discussion 
Advisory Committee Meeting #1 Notes (PDF)
Advisory Committee Meeting #2 Presentation (PDF) – projected needs methodology and allocation guidance
Advisory Committee Meeting #2 Notes (PDF)
Advisory Committee Meeting #3 Presentation (PDF) – allocation guidance and allocation tool
Advisory Committee Meeting #4 Presentation (PDF) – baseline and projected special housing needs methodology
Advisory Committee Meeting #5 Presentation (PDF) – projected housing needs by income level methodology
Advisory Committee Meeting #6 Presentation (PDF) – goals, policies, and mandatory provisions (b); land capacity (c); and adequate provisions to address housing needs (d)

Special Housing Needs Focus Group Meeting Presentation (PDF)


Public Review Drafts
DRAFT Racially Disparate Impacts Guidance (PDF) (comments due Oct. 19, 2022)

Open House Details
The Virtual Open House on the draft guidance will be held on Thursday, Sept. 22. from 2-4 p.m. on Zoom.  

Advisory Work Group Meeting Materials
Advisory Work Group member list (PDF)
Advisory Work Group Meeting #1 Presentation (PDF) – overview of HB 1220, project approach, group charter, and discussion
Advisory Work Group Meeting #1 Notes (PDF)
Advisory Work Group Meeting #2 Presentation (PDF) – working definitions and racially disparate impacts case study
Advisory Work Group Meeting #2 Notes (PDF)
Advisory Work Group Meeting #3 Presentation (PDF) – overview of potential methods for assessing racially disparate impacts in housing
Advisory Work Group Meeting #4 Presentation (PDF) – overview of potential methods for assessing displacement risk and displacement in housing
Advisory Work Group Meeting #5 Presentation (PDF) – draft methodology review, including housing needs assessment recap, housing element review and policy options

Opportunities for Stakeholder Input (PDF)