Help Us Protect 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.

Make a Contribution

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

Watch the Hearing

Check out video from the bill's public hearing on Facebook.

Update on ESSB 5408: Governor Inslee signed ESSB 5408 into law on May 12, 2021. The amendments take immediate effect.

SB 5408 will raise the homestead exemption to the county median sale price. Click here to learn what the new exemption amounts will be in your county.

SB 5408 is supported by national and local organizations:

  • 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

Provide Vital Relief for Washington Homeowners

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.

What does SB 5408 do?

  • Raises the homestead exemption from $125,000 to the median value per county of a single-family home.
  • Ensures bankruptcy filers won't lose their homestead exemption due to property value increases after the date of filing.
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. Increases 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. SB 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.
  • 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.

Have questions?

Get in touch with our staff.