WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.) successfully included a provision in the Updated Heroes Act which passed the House this week that would help transit agencies make the most of unused land for community-based organizations and housing.

“Innovative and valuable projects across the nation are being held up due to an unnecessary roadblock in transferring land from transit agencies to local non-profits and community-based organizations,” said Rep. Adam Smith. “This includes progress on the Youth Achievement Center here in King County, a vital initiative to bring housing, health care services, jobs training and education, and other services to youth. I am proud to have secured inclusion of a provision that would give federal entities an easier path to transfer unused land to nonprofits and community-based organizations. I applaud the tireless efforts of Councilmember Zahilay, Peter Rogoff, and others who raised this issue and continue to work to meet the needs of King County through the development of the Youth Achievement Center and other projects.”

“Government has an obligation to use our resources expeditiously and effectively to meet the needs of the community,” said King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay. “Underutilized publicly-owned land can be a vital resource to build new foundations in historically marginalized areas of our country. Transferring ownership over for new housing, commercial centers, and facilities for necessary services is the pathway to thriving communities. Congressman Adam Smith has been an incredible federal partner in achieving this vision. By relaxing federal red tape and bureaucratic hurdles, he and his team will ensure designated publicly-owned land in King County (and possibly the entire country) can be quickly transferred to communities and used for housing and other needed amenities.”

“This provision will support Sound Transit in partnering with non-profit organizations to help turn our surplus properties into wins that will advance equity for the residents of our communities,” said Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff. “We are grateful to Congressman Smith for his tireless support for building not only transit investments but other community infrastructure that our residents need to thrive.”

Current federal law makes it difficult for nonprofit organizations and other non-governmental organizations to acquire unused lands from transit agencies to create projects that will benefit the local communities. Congressman Smith’s provision included in the Updated Heroes Act removes this red tape, making it easier to transfer land from the federal entities to local organizations to make way for projects that benefit local communities. This would help support housing and other community-based organizations working to expand housing and other services to their communities, including the Youth Achievement Center in King County. 

Community-based organizations in Washington state and across the country are working to bring projects to life that will better serve the needs of communities such as providing affordable housing, access to health care, and other services for underserved communities. Nonprofits that were already struggling for resources have been hit even harder by the COVID-19 pandemic. This provision would alleviate a significant roadblock these organizations face so they can more easily kickstart valuable projects and fully realize their innovative ideas.