Mobile Menu - OpenMobile Menu - Closed

Housing Task Force

It is getting harder and harder to afford housing in the Puget Sound. Rents and home prices are leaping upward every year and they are well higher now than they were in the so-called housing bubble. Downtown Seattle is the epicenter but the effects have spread over the whole South Sound as well.


Lots of economists say housing markets are driven just by local trends: job growth, zoning, nearby mountains or water that can’t be built on. Under this theory, each city is different and problems can only be solved locally. As Rep. Heck talked to other Members of Congress, he found that cities around the county were experiencing the same soaring prices.

If it’s happening around the country, the cause must be widespread, and there may be a national solution.

At the start of 2017, Rep. Heck announced the formation of the New Democrat Coalition Housing Task Force during a keynote address at the 2017 Zillow Economic Forum.

“Every click up in prices pushes some families down a rung: from prospective first-time homebuyers to long-term renters; from tenants in market-rate housing to applicants for rent vouchers; from extremely rent-burdened families to the van or the tent... housing is so central to everything, we may find our way back there again.”

The New Democrat Coalition Housing Task Force’s mission is to start to identify ways to get the cost of shelter under control and to push policymakers to start focusing on the strain that housing costs are putting on families and do something about it.


The average American family spends 40 percent of their money on shelter. As the 30-year mortgage rates ends and reverses, the cost of home ownership will rise too, and trust pushes up prices everywhere else.

Too few people realize that housing is an ecosystem; fewer home sales more renters mean higher rents; rising rents push the most rent-burned households out onto the streets.

The growing homeless encampments and soaring home prices in the Puget Sound are intrinsically related. The challenge of affordable housing is universal, and we need a universal affordable housing policy.


Before becoming co-chair of the Housing Task Force, Rep. Heck was a vocal champion of affordable housing.

In 2014, he hosted then-HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan for a conversation on the Future of Housing After the (Global Financial) Crisis, and in 2016 he hosted then-HUD Secretary Julian Castro for a Youth Housing Roundtable in the 10th Congressional District.

With housing prices steadily rising throughout the South Sound, the needs of current and prospective homeowners of Washington’s 10th Congressional District will be considered as part of the Housing Task Force’s conclusions and policy proposals.

Heck questions HUD Secretary Castro about the U.S. housing market

Heck questions Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen about the U.S. housing market


On June 6, 2018 the New Democrat Coalition’s Housing Task Force Co-Chairs Reps. Denny Heck, Stephanie Murphy, Scott Peters, and Juan Vargas and NDC Chair Jim Himes released a preliminary findings report on America’s Housing Crisis: Missing Millions of Homes.

The Task Force plans to release a second report with policy recommendations to address the lack of affordable housing options later in 2018. 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today Reps. Denny Heck (WA-10) and Trey Hollingsworth (IN-09) introduced the bipartisan Yes In My Backyard (YIMBY) Act, H.R. 4351, in the House. The bill encourages communities to prioritize measures that will increase housing supply and affordability.

Under the bill, local governments applying for federal housing development funds through the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program would be required to report whether they have enacted policies to reduce counterproductive regulations that may affect affordability.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Over a dozen organizations have thrown their support behind the Yes In My Back Yard (YIMBY) Act, H.R. 4351, which was introduced in September by Rep. Denny Heck (WA-10) and Rep. Trey Hollingsworth (IN-09).