Support SB 5408 to protect the homestead exemption for Washington families.

Losing one’s home can be devastating, displacing families and making it nearly impossible for them to ever own a home again. During the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing numbers of Washington homeowners rely on the homestead exemption to protect their homes from creditors. Yet, rising home values have put this option out of reach for many at the time they need it the most. SB 5408 addresses that problem.

The homestead exemption keeps people in their homes during tough times. 

When filing for bankruptcy, a debtor can protect the equity in their primary residence up to a certain limit. If the value of the home is less than the limit, the bankruptcy trustee cannot seize and sell the
home. The exemption also protects small businesses struggling to stay afloat in the face of COVID-19 shutdowns.


Washington’s current homestead exemption is too low.
At $125,000—a figure last updated in 2007—Washington’s homestead exemption is currently one of the nation’s lowest. The typical U.S. homebuyer started off with $54,000 in home equity in 2012 and has $195,000 today. In Seattle, the average person who bought a home in 2012 has gained $364,000 in home equity - an increase of 461 percentIncreases in home prices have dramatically reduced the value of the
exemption throughout the state—for example, home prices in Okanogan and Chelan counties rose by 37 percent in 2020 alone. Washington State has the highest year-over-year average increase in home value at $35,800SB 5408 restores homestead fairness to Washington.

SB 5408 provides critical protection for:

  • Homeowners outside the bankruptcy process
    • An effective homestead exemption that protects the debtor’s home will make it harder for creditors to employ draconian tactics and encourage reasonable negotiations to repay debt.
  • Homeownership and wealth in communities of color.
    • Homeowners in communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, and are more likely than White homeowners to default or ask for mortgage deferments. Increased protections in the homestead exemption could decrease the homeowner gap faced by people of color.
  • All manner of homeownership, including small farms, RVs and vehicles
    • A homestead consists of all real or personal property that the owner uses as their principal residence. This Bill will prohibit dollar value restrictions on the personal property.
  • Additional protection during the bankruptcy process
    • Currently, debtors who qualify can still lose their home if its value increases during the process. The Bill enables them to claim a future exemption value on the date of filing.

Homeowners will see real pandemic relief at no cost to the state.
At a time when our state budget is strained by the COVID-19 pandemic and potential COVID-19 relief, SB 5408 provides real, tangible relief to vulnerable working people and ALL homeowners without costing taxpayers a cent.

 

Help us protect Washington families and preserve homeownership during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Make a contribution to support NWCLC's efforts to pass SB 5408.

Contact your state representatives to urge them to vote yes on SB 5408.

Join us on February 26 for a free CLE and fundraiser about the homestead exemption.

Promote SB 5408 on Facebook and Twitter.

 

SB 5408 is sponsored by Washington State Senators StanfordDasDhingraHasegawaKudererLovelettNguyenRandallRobinsonRolfesSaldaña, and Wellman.

 

SB 5408 is supported by numerous national and local organizations that stand for economic justice including:

  • National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Advocates
  • Washington Build Back Black Alliance
  • Columbia Legal Services
  • Legal Voice
  • National Organization of Women
  • 1st District Democrats
  • Habitat for Humanity

 

Have questions? Contact us at admin@nwclc.org.