A Deeper Look at Housing and Homelessness Funds in This Year’s Budget
Written by Kendra Allman, Community Organizing Fellow
This was an important week for budgets, with the release of three budget proposals and three corresponding hearings: the House Operating Budget, the House Capital Budget, and the Senate Operating Budget. Because Washington has a significant amount of money left unspent from federal COVID funding, we were especially bold in our budget asks this year. We know that with the proper allocation of these resources, Washington has a real chance to address its housing crisis, as this year’s budget decisions have the potential of providing thousands of people across Washington with easier access to affordable housing and the support they need to stay in their homes.
Back in December, Governor Inslee released his 2022 budget proposal, which included over $800 million for housing and homelessness related programs. This was extremely exciting news, and we’ve worked hard these last few months to advocate for the House and the Senate to adopt Governor Inslee’s bold proposals for investments in housing – and go even further. Now, as we near the end of this year’s legislative session, the House and the Senate have both released their budget proposals, and they’re currently in the process of negotiating the details for the final budget.
Some of our key budget asks this year included a $500 million investment in affordable housing (compared to Governor Inslee’s proposed $434 million), $78 million to support homelessness and affordable housing service providers, such as hazard pay, secondary trauma resources, and to address staffing shortages, $2 million for pre-eviction civil legal aid to help tenants advocate for their rights, and $4.5 million to prevent foreclosures.
Here’s a deeper look at the specifics of what each budget proposal includes for housing and homelessness:
While we’re glad to see that both the House and the Senate have proposed to allocate a significant amount of funding toward housing and homelessness related programs, we want to make sure that the House’s bolder investments in addressing Washington’s housing and homelessness crisis are what survive into the final budget. Please help us make sure this happens by calling the Legislative Hotline and urging your state Senator to invest in housing stability and solutions to homelessness!
You can also tweet and tag your lawmaker (and us so we can share)! Not all lawmakers have Twitter accounts, but that’s okay! You can still tag #waleg and folks will see it. Not sure which LD you live in? Find out here! Here are examples of what you can Tweet:
Our ability to prevent and end homelessness rests on the shoulders of frontline service providers across the state who assist people in crisis. We need the Senate to include $78 million to address workforce shortages in their budget like the House did! #waleg @*insert your Senator’s Twitter handle* @wliha
Please invest $521 million to build affordable homes across the state to prevent and reduce homelessness, with at least $100 million for the Housing Trust Fund. We need to provide as many people as possible with safe, healthy, and affordable homes. #waleg @*insert your Senator’s Twitter handle* @wliha
If you haven't attended a town hall yet, you might still have a chance! Check here to find out what distict you live in.
The 29 Legislative District is holding a town hall with Representative Melanie Morgan on February 29, 6:00pm-7:00pm. You can attend by going to Rep. Morgan's facebook page here, or going to the WA House Democrats Youtube page.
The 33 Legislative District is holding a town hall with Senator Karen Keiser, Reps. Tina Orwall & Mia Gregerson on March 21, 6:00pm-7:00pm. You can attend by going to the WA House Democrats Facebook or youtube page.
We are now less than two weeks away from the end of this short legislative session! Today and this weekend are incredibly busy for advocates and legislators because Monday is the next big cutoff when bills that made it to the opposite chamber need to get through their fiscal committee.
This week we were working hard to read, understand, and weigh in on the Senate’s Operating and Capital Budget bills as well as the House’s Operating and Capital Budget bills. There is a lot of good news to share about the budgets and a few action items to turn any bad news into good! The budgets prove what advocacy can do and the difference it makes when we elect housing champions, and we are so thankful for all of you who helped achieve this:
- Both the Senate and House fully funded our ask to increase the Aged, Blind and Disabled cash grant from $197/month to $417! This is huge for so many Washingtonians, and we are very hopeful that this funding will be in the final budget;
- Both Operating Budgets include $4.5 million for foreclosure prevention;
- The Senate fully funded our request for $2 million for pre eviction legal civil aid;
- The House budget bill includes $521 million for the Housing Trust Fund and rapid acquisition program! We have never seen funding like this before for affordable housing and solutions to homelessness;
- The House fully funded our request for $78 million for homelessness workforce retention, as well as $55 million for rental assistance!
Here’s where we need your help-- the House goes further than the Senate when it comes to investments for affordable housing and solutions to homelessness. Will you make a quick call to the Legislative Hotline? They need to hear from as many housing justice advocates as possible!
Tomorrow morning will be really important for our remaining priority and support agenda bills! We have FIVE bills being heard in the Senate Ways and Means Committee tomorrow, Saturday, morning starting at 9am. We need lots of PRO sign ins so legislators keep moving these along to becoming law:
- HB 1643/Hackney: providing a real estate tax excise exemption for affordable housing providers. Sign in pro here!
- HB 1905/Senn: preventing youth leaving state care from being discharged into homelessness. Sign in pro here!
- HB 1866/Chopp: “apple health and homes, "would significantly increase and streamline the production of permanent supportive housing." Sign in pro here!
- HB 2097/Donaghy: regarding updated definition of first time homebuyer. Sign in pro here!
- HB 1620/Leavitt: extreme weather protection act which supports our most vulnerable. Sign in pro here!
You can sign in until 8am tomorrow (Saturday). These amazing bills are SO close to becoming law, and we have to make sure they continue to make progress with less than two weeks to go!