You’ve likely heard me say that Washington is facing an affordable housing and homelessness crisis—every district, every county, every community is experiencing this crisis. Despite efforts and resources to date, we simply do not have adequate housing options across income levels and across specialized needs in order to keep Washingtonians housed. This crisis also impacts people differently. Renters, LGBTQ people, people of color, and older Washingtonians are more likely to be overburdened by housing costs and/or other barriers, and are at greater risk for displacement.
That’s why increasing affordable housing stock and mitigating the factors that lead to homelessness were top priorities for Democrats in the 2019 legislative session.
Our work isn’t done, and I need to hear from you to help me prioritize our affordable housing, homelessness, and tenant protection agenda for 2020. Please take a moment to complete my very brief, one question survey (it should take you less than one minute).
Here’s a brief overview of the progress we made this year to increase the supply of housing, protect tenants, reform our broken eviction system, ease homelessness, and address the intersection of behavioral health (mental health & substance use) and homelessness.
- We’re helping to increase the supply of housing around our state by encouraging investments in affordable and supportive housing, allowing religious organizations to build more affordable housing on their property, increasing urban residential building capacity, encouraging development of condominiums, and investing $175 million in the Housing Trust Fund.
- We’re protecting tenants by requiring more notice before rent increases, reforming our broken eviction system by providing more time to pay or vacate, and improving & increasing relocation assistance for manufactured and mobile home tenants.
- Our budget provides increased investments in proven homelessness interventions like permanent supportive housing; the Housing and Essential Needs program; and increases the availability of shelter beds, outreach services, and housing for youth experiencing homelessness. We’re also expanding services for homeless youth, and improving the partnership between schools and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to support homeless students.
- Homelessness and behavioral health are two paths that often cross, and we address both through recovery support services.