Michele Thomas, Director of Policy and Advocacy
It has been quiet in Olympia lately. There are negotiations going on between budget writers, but the word is that there is still a great divide between the House and Senate. In order to pass a budget, they must bridge their differences on revenue and on which programs and services are funded. And we think it is a good thing that the special session is happening. To prevent it, the House would have had to cave to the Senate's horrific budget proposal. That would have been unacceptable. So we are thankful that the House along with the Governor are standing strong to demand significant revenue to fund their budget proposals. The negative talk in the media about "D.C.-style gridlock" misses the point and misleads the public about what is really going on. We invite you to join us in trying to reframe the situation. This will help encourage the House to stay strong and ease the pressure to go home before an acceptable compromise is reached.
Meanwhile, many lawmakers are back home and some are available for meetings. This is a strategic time to schedule meetings and to explain our ask for the Housing Trust Fund (detailed below) and to advocate for the House's Operating Budget. Their budget restores the Senate's deep cuts to homelessness programs. Let us know if you'd like any assistance with these meetings. We are happy to help.
If meeting with your lawmaker isn't possible, there are many other valuable advocacy strategies you can engage in.
Writing a letter to the editor, engaging your board in advocacy by asking them to make calls at your next board meeting, compiling stories from your clients on the importance of your programs that are funded by the Consolidated Homeless Grant, etc. We have a lot of ideas. Just give us a call, and we can share more.
Special session is scheduled to end on June 11, but it isn't clear if they will reach agreement by then. There is another official revenue forecast due on June 20. Since it is expected to be relatively positive, some are speculating that lawmakers will wait until then to make final budget decisions. This might be a sensible decision since more revenue coming in means less of a deficit to fill. And, the longer they wait, the more time we have to advocate!
We will be sending out an action alert next week. Please pledge to take action and to ask your board, your staff, colleagues, members, and clients to join you. We need to keep pushing.
And I hope to see many of you on Tuesday, June 11 for our 25th Anniversary Awards Dinner. Our keynote is the esteemed Peter B. Edelman. You may remember when he resigned from the Clinton administration in 1996 to protest the harmful welfare reform policies being planned. As he predicted, welfare reform eroded the safety net and set our nation backwards. Join your fellow advocates to learn more, to debate, to celebrate, and to grow our movement. It will be a fun and lively evening! Tickets are still available, but going fast. Click here to secure your spot.
Reminder of the Current Housing Trust Fund (HTF) Ask
1) Bring the allocation up to the Governor’s level of $65 million and maintain the House's additional $28.5 million allocation for other affordable housing projects*. Put that money into a competitive pool that all projects on the alternate list can apply for.
*Other affordable housing in the House's budget includes the following; $28.5 million = $4.5 million for public housing authorities' preservation funds, $14 million for Sand Point Building 9, and $10 million for Energy Matchmakers.
2) Expand the alternate list to all viable projects.
3) Un-rank the alternate list.
Click here for a pdf copy of the Housing Alliance's letter to elected officials that outlines our HTF ask.
Click here to send an email to your legislators demanding they pass a budget that creates more opportunites for safe, healthy, affordable homes!