Steve Walker has been named the next head of the Washington State Housing Finance Commission (WSHFC).

He becomes only the second executive director in the agency’s history, succeeding Kim Herman, who is retiring after 36 years at the helm.

Steve Walker
Steve Walker

Walker returns to WSHFC, where he was director of multifamily housing and community facilities until 2013, after most recently leading the city of Seattle’s Office of Housing. “To lead an organization I know so well, where the work, the vision, and the values are aligned with my own commitment to housing stability, is exciting,” says Walker, who was selected after a nationwide search.

Walker has dedicated his 30-year career to affordable housing and community development, beginning with homeless housing in New York City. He then directed housing programs for a nonprofit in his native Northern California before coming to Seattle. In 1996,

Walker joined WSHFC and eventually became director of the multifamily housing division, overseeing the financing of affordable apartments, nonprofit facilities, and many other projects benefiting families and communities statewide.

He was appointed by Seattle mayor Ed Murray in 2014 to lead the city’s housing strategies and investments, including Seattle’s largest voter-approved housing levy to date. Walker served during a time of rapid growth marked by skyrocketing housing costs, displacement, and homelessness. He was reappointed by mayor Jenny Durkan in 2018 and left the post earlier this year.

As executive director of WSHFC, Walker will oversee a self-supporting state agency that each year finances more than 6,000 affordable apartments and more than 7,000 home loans, using tools such as tax-exempt bonds and federal housing tax credits.

“The reputation of the Commission in Washington state and across the nation, my passion for providing affordable housing for those most in need, and the opportunity to advance racial and social equity objectives are among the many reasons I am enthusiastic to take on this role,” Walker says.