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McCleary Sanctions Should Advance, Not Restrict, Educational Opportunity

Housing Alliance, Children's Alliance, Equity in Education Coalition, and Columbia Legal Services

In 2012, in McCleary, et al. v. State of Washington, the Supreme Court ruled that the State of Washington has been violating its constitutional obligation to amply fund K-12 education, and gave the legislature until 2018 to comply. 

If the legislature funds basic education at the expense of other supports that help low-income students and students of color, the promise of McCleary will not be met. It is for this reason that we teamed up with the Children’s Alliance, Equity in Education Coalition, and Columbia Legal Services to write an amicus brief to the Washington Supreme Court to urge the court not to implement sanctions that would undermine other critical services. 

Almost half of all Washington children—4 in 10—live in a family with inadequate income. And a rising share of the state’s student body are children of color, who tend to face implicit, institutional and structural racial bias that forms imposing barriers to their success. These factors—whether they take the form of financial insecurity, homelessness, foster care placement, poorer access to health care or household hunger—make a child’s educational opportunity fragile.

The brief argues that, as the Court considers next steps in its oversight of the McCleary decision, it must avoid harm to social service programs that stabilize families and schools, protecting children. To do otherwise would further endanger children’s rights to educational opportunity.

“Education is a primary pathway out of poverty,” says Jon Gould, deputy director of the Children’s Alliance. “When the route to educational success is blocked for some children, our entire state suffers for years to come. When almost half of students are denied the resources they need to succeed in school, we all feel the consequences. Today’s disparities in educational outcomes for children in low- income families and students of color are unacceptable. The next steps in the McCleary case should be laser-focused on improving student outcomes and closing these gaps. Today’s children will soon become tomorrow’s parents, workers, volunteers, and decision-makers. All Washington’s children need a wide, broad path forward into the healthy futures we dream for them.”

Poverty often forces changes in schools and other threats to academic achievement. Social programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, State Food Assistance, the Washington Families Fund, the foster care system, and the Housing Trust Fund provide a source of stability that keeps kids learning.

Yet in defining basic education, the Legislature has not included non-academic supports commonly relied upon by low-income students and their families. If ample funding for education pursuant to McCleary comes at the expense of such programs—including early learning—educational opportunity would suffer another setback.

“The constitutional promise of McCleary can never be met if we don’t invest in all of our kids,” says Katara Jordan, staff attorney with Columbia Legal Services. “If some students are allowed—or worse, compelled—to fall further behind, we all suffer the consequences in every Washington classroom and in our state as a whole. Educational opportunity must be available to all students, no matter their race or socio-economic background. Remedies that deny or impair the supports that students need to thrive in the classroom are unacceptable.”

“Making ample provision for the opportunity of a basic education means we serve students—each and every student—in schools. It means we honor their parents, we honor all the cultures and families that make up Washington’s communities, and we make sure their basic needs are met. We prevent educational crises brought on by health problems, an eviction, a job loss or incarceration in the family from ending a child’s opportunity to an education and a bright future. And we do so in collaboration with early learning and higher education—and not in competition,” says Sharonne Navas, co-founder and executive director of the Equity in Education Coalition.

“We need more money flowing into educational systems, including early learning and higher education, because our educational systems need to be responsive to the hurdles our students face, like homelessness, hunger and poverty,” Navas continues. “A well-funded educational system can mitigate these hurdles.”

“It is imperative that we not only fund basic education for all students in Washington, but that we eliminate barriers to educational opportunity for low-income and homeless students,” says Rachael Myers, executive director of the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance. “This means providing for children’s basic needs outside the classroom too. Things like having a safe home and enough food to eat make all the difference in whether or not a child can truly take advantage of great classrooms. Sacrificing one to fund the other is like cutting off the head to save the body.”

The Amicus parties have expertise in non-academic supports that bolster educational opportunity, such as affordable housing and homelessness prevention, foster care, food security and other services. They argue that the Court and the Legislature should eliminate barriers to opportunity. The Amicus participants are:

Columbia Legal Services has extensive expertise advocating for the rights of homeless families and children and foster children, and to fund programs that provide an income to families with children, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

The Equity in Education Coalition is a statewide coalition of communities of color working toward a more targeted and comprehensive approach to close the opportunity gap. It works to provide an excellent education to children of color, children who live in low-income households, children with special education or language needs and children from immigrant and refugee communities.

The Children’s Alliance is a membership-based organization of 10,000 individuals and 58 member organizations. It works to improve the well-being of children through positive change in public policies, priorities and programs. The Children’s Alliance convenes public and private partner organizations and leaders so they can collaborate on issues affecting kids and families.

The Washington Low Income Housing Alliance works to ensure that everyone in Washington can live in a safe, healthy, affordable home. Since 1988, the Housing Alliance has worked to improve public policy and public investments in affordable homes to achieve this mission, in partnership with 140 organizational members and 8,000 individual members, nonprofit housing providers, social service providers and homeless service providers.

The brief, filed June 7, is available on the state Supreme Court’s McCleary page, or by clicking here.

Lifelong Advocates Are Born Out Of The EAP Program

Matthew Anderson, EAP Graduate, Housing Advocate

At this year’s Conference on Ending Homelessness, I had the opportunity to help with the Emerging Advocates Program (EAP). The experience was especially rewarding to me, because I am an EAP graduate. The program has changed my life, my work, and it is very dear to my heart. If you read this post and feel inspired like I am, I encourage you to apply for the EAP fall session, which runs September-November, 2016. Applications are accepted until July 24, 2016.

EAP is an intense advocacy-training program for individuals that have experienced homelessness and are currently advocating for housing and social justice issues. This year’s cohort consisted of 22 advocates. It was an extraordinary experience to hear their stories, to learn about their work, and to witness their passion.  The conference program for EAP consists a jam-packed day of training the day before the conference begins, EAP approved training during the conference, and a debrief session.

The first part of day one consisted of an introduction to the Housing Alliance and an Advocacy Workshop by Nancy Amidei. During a workshop discussion, a participant stated, “how important it was to do advocacy work,” especially since he could “not vote due to a past felony.” Immediately Nancy asked him if his time and supervision was completed. He said, “oh yeah, for quite some time.” Nancy explained to him that he was eligible to vote, and took a voter registration card out of her bag. Within minutes it was completed and in a stamped envelope. The impact and celebration from the room was electric!

The afternoon featured two workshops, one on housing policy and the other on how to tell your personal story. It was eye opening how many of us at the workshop had benefited from the funding and policies that the Housing Alliance has advocated and fought for! It helped to go more in depth on what’s happening in Olympia, and to discuss how EAP participants are working on these issues in their own communities.  The story-telling workshop was emotional. It is still difficult for many of us to write down and reflect on our story, because it means having to go back and relive times of hopelessness, hurt, and the struggles related to experiencing homelessness and other traumatic situations. I have to say, this workshop was done in a safe, welcoming, and confidential environment. It was also a way to practice the shorter versions of our stories; the things we want our legislators to hear and understand. At the end of the workshop, it was clear that everyone had become closer and shared a special bond.

The EAP dinner consisted of graduates from previous years and the new attendees in Spokane -- what a powerful group! It just felt right being there. It was like being with family. Hugs were abundant, and it was easy to see the room was full social justice advocates. Every time I am around people from my class and others, I witness that look of love in their eyes. It was awesomeness at its best!

Over the next 2 days, participants attended their choice of EAP approved conference workshops, and the Been There Breakfast.  I was the facilitator of that breakfast; a safe space where everyone could talk about the training, the conference, and how their lives were impacted. Day one had paid off not only in excellent training, but also in bringing the group closer together. One attendee, Billy, commented that, “knowing other people from EAP really made the workshops at the conference better and more comfortable”, and many others shared this sentiment.

At the end of the conference the EAP participants attended a debrief session that I will never forget, it was just one of those incredible experiences that stay with a person. Everyone sat in a big circle and talked about what they got out of the training. Every person, almost to a tee, talked about specific ways they could take what they learned and immediately incorporate into the work they do, and how important the relationships they had made were. The passion and love in the room was incredible. When each person spoke it was clear that, if you were hurting, or needed help, this was who you would want to grab your hand and pull you up. We went out to take a group photo and the last thing I heard was “hey there is a feed tomorrow, is anyone available?”

Here is what EAP some participants had to say:

Alfredo

”Meeting all the other advocates really reminded me of how our causes overlap. It’s not just what I am doing that is important, but what we are doing to change the situation with housing and social justice.  Alfredo went on to say, “if I had to put into words what I got out of EAP, it is the fact that it ignited a fire, a fire that was already there but it wasn’t hot like it is now!” Alfredo gave an example of this, he is holding a direct action to try to get the sit and lay policy changed in Spokane.

Renee

“I'm a homeless advocate, that's currently, homeless. This isn't my first time homeless, but prior to being homeless.... I've always had a passion to advocate for the homeless. 
With that being said, I cannot find words to express how much I enjoyed the conference in Spokane 2016. I enrolled and applied for a scholarship to the EAP part of the conference. As you guessed, I was selected.”
“The other applicants and the staff are so totally committed to the mission. The training you receive really helps you step up your advocacy work with elected officials, in a manner that is empowering. So empowering, you feel confident to talk with electeds in every forum you see them in.”

Billy

“The Emerging Advocates Program is awesome! Were already connecting a network of organizations through all of these truly amazing people. Coming up with plans of action to advocate more effectively. I love being in a room with so many altruistic people who share the same passion for improving the lives of others. Feels kind of good being in their presence when they are so few in everyday life... But we are all here to change that!”

EAP wouldn’t be possible without community support. Amerigroup Washington recently presented a $5,000 contribution in support of the Emerging Advocates Program, because they believe in aiding leadership development and advocacy support for individuals with direct experience of housing instability or homelessness. The check presentation took place at the first joint Housing Alliance and Housing Alliance Action Fund Member Meeting, in April. 

For more information about the Emerging Advocates Program, visit www.wliha.org/eap.

Sine Die part 2 - A Disappointing Budget

Housing Alliance Public Policy Team

Lawmakers gavelled an end to the 2016 Legislative Session late on Tuesday (3/29/16) after passing supplemental capital and operating budgets.

While we are pleased to see some very important investments in affordable housing and homelessness programs, especially for homeless youth, overall the budget compromise is disappointing. Washington is facing a housing affordability crisis and homelessness has reached emergency levels in many communities across the state. This budget fails to adequately invest in the solutions we need to address this crisis. Both the House and Senate had budget options on the table that would have made a real difference in addressing homelessness and public will has never been higher – people recognize that we need to do more. The legislature missed an opportunity.

Below you will find our full statement to the press, followed by a comprehensive table comparing all the budget proposals from the 2016 Legislative Session.

 

Statement to the press

Investments in affordable housing and homelessness in the compromise operating and capital budgets are a small step forward in recognizing the crisis afflicting tens of thousands of families and individuals in communities across Washington. However, these investments fail to expand the proven solutions we need to address homelessness.

The supplemental budgets fall far short of addressing the existing need on the streets and in communities across our state. The original House Operating Budget proposal (HB 2376) was passed by the Democratic-majority House of Representatives and included an additional $37.5 million for affordable housing and supportive services for those in need. The Bring Washington Home Act, (SB 6647) proposed by Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson (D-34, Maury Island) would have invested an additional $186.8 million in a range of affordable housing solutions, homelessness outreach and intervention, and supportive services. Either of these earlier proposals would have made a significant positive impact in the lives of the families and individuals across Washington who are homeless or at risk of becoming so - but the Republican-controlled State Senate refused to give either proposal serious consideration beyond a cursory public hearing.

The final compromise Capital and Operating Budgets passed by the Legislature does total approximately $15 Million for affordable housing and homelessness services. Some of the investments and re-appropriation of funds support important youth homelessness programs, including: $2 Million for the Homeless Student Stability Act (HB 1682), $1.028 Million for HOPE Beds for homeless youth, and $800,000 for Street Youth Services. Unfortunately, the vast majority of this is from existing program funding and does not actually invest new resources in proven solutions to homelessness.  

The final compromise Capital Budget (HB 2380) provides an additional $8 million for affordable housing, including for the Housing Trust Fund, which will fund affordable homes through a competitive grant process and will also fund four specific projects including two youth shelters. Additionally a new program is created, modeled from a similar program in Oregon, which provides incentives for landlords to rent to tenants relying on federal Housing Choice (section 8) vouchers by funding reimbursement for damages to units that exceed normal wear and tear. This new program seeks to help break down unnecessary and unfair barriers to housing by addressing the unfounded fears of landlords that low-income renters cause more damage to units.

Overall, these budgets do not keep pace with the growing need in Washington State.

Recent data from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction shows that 35,511 pubic school children were homeless at some point in the last school year. During the recent point in time count in January, 4,505 people were counted outside in the middle of the night, after the shelters were full in King County. That represented a 19% increase over 2015. Snohomish County saw a 54% increase in unsheltered homelessness in that same period. Kitsap County saw a 30% increase, including a doubling of people living unsheltered.

Significantly greater investment is needed to address this crisis. The Washington Low Income Housing Alliance will continue to work with elected officials toward meaningful, comprehensive solutions. 

###

 

2016 Legislative Session Budget Proposals

BUDGET ITEM

GOVERNOR BUDGET – 12.17.15

HOUSE BUDGET – 2.22.16

SENATE BUDGET - 2.24.16 

SENATE
BUDGET -
3.11.16

FINAL BUDGET -
3.29.16

FUND SOURCE

HOUSING & ESSENTIAL NEEDS

 

No Change

No Change

No Change

No Change No Change General Fund

AGED, BLIND, & DISABLED PROGRAM

 

No Change

No Change

No Change

No Change No Change General Fund

MEDICAL CARE SERVICES

 

No Change

No Change

Analysis in Progress

No Change No Change General Fund

SSI FACILITATION SERVICES

 

No Change

No Change

No Change

No Change No Change General Fund

TEMPORARY ASSISTANCE FOR NEEDY FAMILIES

 

No Change

No Change

No Change

No Change No Change General Fund (State and Federal)

BEHAVIORAL HEALTH HOUSING SUPPORT & STEP DOWN SERVICES

+$2.8 Million

+$2.762 Million

 

+$2.762 Million

+$2.762 Million +2.762 Million $2 Million from General Fund, $762 from General Fund - Federal Approrpriation
AGED, BLIND, AND DISABLED MEDICAL ASSISTANCE
THE CATEGORICALLY NEEDY BLIND DISABLED AND COMMUNITY OPTIONS PROGRAM ENTRY SYSTEM (COPES) POPULATIONS ARE REMOVED FROM MANAGED CARE AND NOW COVERED UNDER FEE-FOR-SERVICE BEGINNING JULY 1, 2016 No Change No Change Yes. See section 213(1)(b)

Yes. See section 213(1)(b)

*language updated from 2.24.16 budget, but still could result in transfer to fee-for service.

No Change N/A
CONSOLIDATED HOMELESS GRANT

CONSOLIDATED HOMELESSNESS GRANT RESTORATION

 

Not Included

+$6.62 Million

+$7.466 Million

+$6.62 Million +$6.62 Million  $4.782 Million from the Home Security Fund and $1.838 Million from the Affordable Housing for All Account (Commerce)

CONSOLIDATED HOMELESSNESS GRANT YOUTH INVESTMENT

 

Not Included

+$787,000

Not Included

+$787,000 +$787,000 Home Security Fund

EMERGENCY HOMELESSNESS INVESTMENTS FUNDED VIA BUDGET STABILIZATION ACCOUNT WITH AUTHORIZATION FROM HB 2988                            

RAPID REHOUSING, BEHAVIORAL HEALTH

 

Not Included

+$5 Million

Not Included

Not Included Not Included N/A

RAPID REHOUSING, FAMILIES

 

 

Not Included

+$2.5 Million

Not Included

Not Included Not Included N/A

RENTAL ASSISTANCE

 

Not Included

+$10 Million

Not Included

Not Included Not Included N/A

PERMANENT SUPPORTIVE HOUSING SERVICES & SHELTER

 

Not Included

+$19.729 Million

Not Included

Not Included Not Included N/A

YOUTH & YOUNG ADULT HOMELESSNESS INVESTMENTS

HOPE BEDS

 

Not Included

$1.028 Million for 23 HOPE Beds

+1.506 Million for 10 CRC & 18 HOPE Beds

+$1.028 Million for HOPE Beds and  +$1.028 Million for HOPE Beds and +$248,000 for licensing of additional HOPE and CRC beds $1.028 Million for HOPE Beds from the Home Security Fund
CRISIS RESIDENTIAL CENTER (CRC) BEDS Not Included Not Included See above +$714,000 for ten crisis residential centers beds +$714,000 for ten crisis residential centers beds Home Security Fund

YOUNG ADULT SHELTER BEDS

 

Not Included

$420,000

Not Included

+$420,000 +$420,000 $210,000 from the Home Security Fund and $210,000 from the General Fund

STREET YOUTH SERVICES

 

Not Included

$800,000

+555,000
($120,000 set aside for South King County)

+$800,000 ($120,000 set aside for South King County) +$800,000 ($120,000 set aside for South King County) General Fund

HOMELESS STUDENT STABILITY ACT FUNDING (HB 1682)

 

Not Included

+$4 Million

Not Included

Not Included +$2 Million $1 Million for Home Security Fund and $1 Million from General Fund
HOUSING TRUST FUND TRANSFER TO HOME SECURITY FUND AND/OR GENERAL FUND
DURING THE 2015-2017 BIENNIUM, THE LEGISLATURS MAY TRANSFER FROM THE WASHINGTON HOUSING TRUST FUND TO THE HOME SECURITY FUND ACCOUNT AND TO THE STATE GENERAL FUND SUCH AMOUNTS AS REFLECT THE EXCESS BALANCE IN THE FUND. Not Included Not Included Not Included Not Included Section 936, page 324 N/A
OTHER WASHINGTON HOUSING TRUST ACCOUNT TRANSFERS (THIS ACCOUNT FUNDS O&M AND HOUSING TRUST FUND PORTFOLIO MANAGEMENT, AMONG OTHER THINGS)
HOUSING TRUST ACCOUNT TRANSFER TO GENERAL FUND 0 0 -$1 Million -$1 Million -$3 Million N/A
HOUSING TRUST ACCOUNT TRANSFER TO HOME SECURITY FUND 0 0 -$4 Million -$4 Million -$7 Million N/A

MEDCAID WAIVER FOR PERMANENT SUPPORTIVE HOUSING (1115 WAIVER REQUEST SUBMITTED BY DSHS AND HEALTH CARE AUTHORITY)

BUDGET LANGUAGE RESTRICTING USE OF ANY NEW FEDERAL FUNDS OBTAINED FROM THIS WAIVER N/A N/A Yes. See section 213(1)(c) Yes. See section 213(1)(c) - (g) Yes. See section 213(1)(c) - (g) N/A
 

 

CAPITAL BUDGET ITEM

GOVERNOR BUDGET – 12.17.15

HOUSE CAPITAL BUDGET – 2.24.16

SENATE CAPITAL BUDGET –
2.24.16

Final Budget - 3.29.16 Fund Source

WEATHERIZATION MATCHMAKER PROGRAM

+$5 Million

0

0

0 N/A

HOUSING TRUST FUND PORTFOLIO PRESERVATION PROGRAM

+$2.5 Million

0

0

0 N/A

RAPID HOUSING IMPROVEMENTS TO BRING PRIVATE MARKET RENTAL HOMES INTO COMPLIANCE WITH ESTABLISHED HOUSING STANDARDS

+$1.5 Million

0

0

0 N/A

RAPID HOUSING ACQUISITION DEMONSTRATION TO DEVELOP CONGREGATE SMALL UNIT DWELLINGS OR CONVERT SINGLE-FAMILY HOMES INTO MULTI-FAMILY HOMES

+$1.275 Million

0

0

0 N/A

HOUSING TRUST FUND

+$1 Million
For Affordable Senior Housing

-$4.3 Million

0

+3.5 Million $.5 Million from State Taxable Building Construction Account and $3 Million from Washington Housing Trust Account (Commerce)
Housing Trust Fund project set-asides (total dollars, see bill for project details, HB 2380 section 1005) 0 -$4.3 Million 0 -$4.75 Million Housing Trust Fund

LANDLORD MITIGATION FUND (ONLY ACCESSIBLE IN JURISDICTIONS THAT PROHIBIT RENTAL SOURCE OF INCOME DISCRIMINATION)

+$125,000

+$125,000 (from Commerce's Housing Trust Account)

0

+$125,000 Washington Housing Trust  Account (Commerce)

STUDY OF HOUSING OPPORTUNITIES FOR VETERANS EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS & THE CONVERSION OF UNITS TO PROVIDE PSH FOR GERIATRIC VETERANS WITH PSYCHIATRIC DISORDERS

+$100,000

+$100,000 (from Commerce’s Housing Trust Account)

0

+$100,000 Washington Housing Trust  Account (Commerce)

HOMELESS YOUTH COMPETITIVE GRANT PROGRAM (INCLUDES SET ASIDES FOR $1.03/COCOON HOUSE AND $1.545/PSKS YOUTH FACILITY IN SEATTLE)

0

+$5 Million

0

0 N/A

RIVERTON PARK HOME-OWNERSHIP PROJECT

0

+$600,000 

0

+$600,000  Ultra energy efficient affordable housing appropriation

MENTAL HEALTH HOUSING HEALTH HOMES

0

0

+$7.5 million 

+$6 Million See section 1005 9(a) $3 Million from State Taxable Building Construction Account and $3 Million from the Washington Housing Trust Account (Commerce)

MENTAL HEALTH HOUSING, FIRST AND DENNY

0

0

$500,000

$500,000 State Building Construction Account
Health Home, Pierce County (contingent on Pierce County passing the MID per RCW 82.14.460) 0 0 0 +$1.5 Million  State Taxable Building Construction Account

 

 


 

Join us to celebrate our 2016 Advocacy Awardees!

Athena Youm, Membership & Development Associate

Every year, we gather together at our Annual Member Meeting to recap the legislative session and outline our upcoming work so that all Washington residents have the opportunity to live in safe, healthy, affordable homes in thriving communities.

We hope you'll join us at this year's member meeting Wednesday, April 20th at 5pm!

New this year, we’ll recognize our 2016 Advocacy Awardees at the Member Meeting and hear from the Housing Alliance Action Fund about interim advocacy opportunities. Be sure to RSVP to me to save your spot!

Over the years, we’ve honored a diverse group of community advocates, lawmakers, and organizations to highlight their achievements in advocacy for affordable housing and an end to homelessness. There are so many outstanding allies in our statewide movement fighting for new investments in housing, homelessness, mental health, and health care in the face of numerous challenges. We are excited to recognize the champions in our community.

I hope you'll join us on April 20th to meet with fellow advocates, toast this year’s award recipients, and help us celebrate the end of another legislative session with delicious food and beverages at the Impact Hub in Pioneer Square.

Address: 220 2nd Ave S, Seattle, WA 98104
Date: April 20, 2016
Time: 5:00pm – 7:00pm
Refreshments will be provided. 

Week in Housing Advocacy - Sine Die Edition

Michele Thomas, Director of Policy and Advocacy

Special Session Means More Time for Advocacy!

As with many of the recent legislative sessions, lawmakers were not able to reach agreement on a final budget and the Governor has called them into overtime. Starting on Thursday, March 10th we are now in a 30-day special session. Despite a lot of grumbling by tired lobbyists and lawmakers, this is a good thing. It means that the House hasn’t caved to the many cuts proposed by the Senate in their Supplemental Operating Budget Proposal. And, it gives us more time to keep pushing for the final budget to include deep investments in affordable housing and homelessness.

Remember, the House and the Senate budget proposals were worlds apart.

The House made new investments in housing, homelessness, mental health, health care, early learning and other important areas while the Senate’s budget made deep cuts. It isn’t surprising there wasn’t time to reconcile those deep differences and we applaud the House for not caving to the cuts. Please show them that you’ve got their backs and that you want the Senate to agree to the investments by emailing your lawmakers again today. Have you emailed or called recently? That is ok. We’ve been told time and time again by lawmakers themselves, that they need to keep hearing from us. Repeatedly telling lawmakers that you are watching and that you expect them to stay strong is incredibly helpful, especially at this critical time in the negotiations.

Special Session Process

When lawmakers are not able to finalize a budget during the time allotted during the “regular session” the Governor can call them into a “special session”. During the next 30 days, lawmakers will mostly focus on issues pertaining to the budget. However, Governor Inslee took an unusual move on the evening of the last day of the regular session by vetoing many bills simply because the legislature didn’t finalize a budget. Usually, Governors reserve their veto authority to address policy concerns with bills that have passed the legislature. Because he vetoed many bills there may be a push to reconsider those bills during the special session.

Senate Introduces New Budget Bill

The Senate released details on a new budget bill around noon on Friday, March 11th and held a public hearing at 2:00pm the same day. The budget represents some compromises that brings it closer to the House’s proposal, but still does not include the $37 million in new dollars for affordable housing and homelessness that was in the House’s budget. Please see our updated budget tracker for details on key programs and again, please contact your lawmakers today to ask them to pass the House’s Supplemental Budget proposal.

Stay Tuned

The Housing Alliance will keep you updated on developments throughout the special session. For timely updates, follow our social media pages especially the Housing Alliance’s Facebook page and Twitter, with the hashtag #wahomes. And we will be holding a member call on Friday, March 18th at noon. The conference call number is 1-866-339-4555, 2064429455. 

Once the session is over, we will provide opportunities for a comprehensive analysis of session outcomes and opportunities for advocacy during the spring, summer and fall.

Thanks again for your advocacy and please keep it up!

Michele

 


 

 

Week In Housing Advocacy Weeks 7 & 8

Michele Thomas, Director of Policy and Advocacy

A lot has happened over the past two weeks. Several “cutoffs” have come and gone, both chambers have released their budgets, many bills have died, but some new ones were introduced (more on that below). Luckily, many good affordable housing and homelessness related bills have passed both chambers! Passing a bill is an incredible feat given that our legislature has a deeply divided political environment that is very hard to navigate a bill through. But at every tough turn, it was advocacy that escorted the bills to the next step.

But we’re not done yet.

We need to keep pushing hard to help ensure that the final budgets make deep investments in affordable housing and homelessness. Please tell your lawmakers to pass the House Supplemental Operating Budget.

House Budget Invests Deeply to Alleviate Homelessness Crisis

This Thursday is the last day of the regular legislative session. If lawmakers are going to reach agreement on their budgets, they only have until Thursday at midnight to finalize the details. The problem is, their budget proposals are very far apart. As you can see in the grid below, the House makes new investments in Human Services, Mental Health and Health Care, and Early Learning and Child Care, while the Senate makes deep cuts in all these areas. They are also far apart in K-12 investments (the House comes in with $196.8 million more for schools than the Senate) and in other key budget areas.

The House Operating Budget is a great budget for affordable housing and homelessness. Champions in the House recognize that homelessness is a crisis and have proposed deep investments. Their budget includes $37.2 million for services including rental assistance and permanent supportive housing, with an additional $6.3 million for programs related to youth homelessness. Meanwhile, the Senate’s budget included language that would block the opportunity to secure the much anticipated “1115 Global Medicaid Waiver”. This waiver would allow new flexibility over federal Medicaid dollars to pay for the services delivered in Permanent Supportive Housing. If approved, this could bring in an additional $54 million in service dollars each year. See our budget overview for a comparison between the Governor, House and Senate budget proposals. But most importantly, it is critical that you take action today to tell your lawmakers to pass the House’s budget. Your lawmakers need to know that you are watching and that you expect them to support deep investments in services and affordable housing. 

If you've already emailed your lawmakers, THANK YOU! It is critical that they keep hearing from you, especially in this last week. Please make a call to the state’s toll-free hotline today to leave one message for all of your lawmakers. Call 1-800-562-6000 with a message like this:

“We must do more to prevent & end homelessness. Please pass the House’s Operating Budget.”

The hotline is open this week Monday - Thursday from 8:00 AM - 8:00 PM.

 

Budget Area

House Operating Budget

Senate Operating Budget

Human Services

+ 44.669 million

- 52.404 million

Mental Health

+ 26.874 million

- 18.687 million

Health Care

+ 19.310 million

- 35.747 million

Early Learning &

Child Care

+ 8.037 million

- 3.158 million

 

Many Important Bills Are Only Inches From the Finish Line

Let’s start with the bad news. The Source of Income Discrimination bill, HB 1565 by Representative Timm Ormsby (3rd LD, Spokane) has died in the Senate Human Services, Mental Health and Housing Committee. The bill made it through the House with strong support from many champions but Senator Steve O’Ban (28th LD, Lakewood) chair of the Senate committee, failed to bring the bill up for a hearing and a vote. This bill would outlaw discrimination based on a renter’s use of rental assistance or other government assistance to help pay the rent. People relying on retirement benefits or social security would have been protected as well. Currently, many landlords categorically deny housing to whole groups of people even though they have the resources to pay the rent. This denial of housing is often a proxy for discrimination already outlawed including racial, familial status and disability related discrimination.

Even though the bill didn’t make it through the whole process, the public testimony, the significant news coverage and the many conversations had with lawmakers have together built a strong foundation to keep moving this issue forward. Special thanks those of you who shared your personal stories of experiencing discrimination. And please join us throughout the interim (spring, summer and fall) in activities to get ready for next session, including meetings with lawmakers, story collection and more. Contact Teresa to learn more about how you can help: Teresac@wliha.org.

Now for the good news!

Several important bills have made it through both chambers and just have one last small step to go before they are delivered to the governor for his signature. Thank you for all you’ve done to help escort these bills through!

SB 6413 by Senator Mullet (5th LD, Issaquah) unanimously passed the House early last week, after passing the Senate in February. A small amendment was made in the House so the bill will have to go back to the Senate for “concurrence” with the change. Because the change is minor and agreed upon by all parties, the concurrence process should be quick and not present any problems.

This bill moves us forward on the Fair Tenant Screening Act by defining a portable report and requiring landlords to disclose if they will accept a portable report. The bill also creates a new process for tenants to remove certain eviction records from inclusion in tenant screening reports. And it also provides landlords with 7 additional days in which to postmark the return of a deposit, moving the timeline from 14 to 21 days. Please thank Senator Mullet for his leadership on this bill! You can call his office with a quick thank you message at (360) 786-7608.

HB 2971 by Representative McBride (48th LD, Kirkland) unanimously passed the Senate early last week. This bill also had a small technical correction made in the Senate that has to be concurred to by the House. Again, this is a minor change agreed to by all parties and should not present any obstacles.

The bill corrects a problem created by a bill last year (HB 2122) which had language inserted during the third special session which prohibits local jurisdictions from passing ordinances to protect renters (such as local source of income discrimination ordinances) if they also used the flexibility over certain tax proceeds that the bill otherwise provided. There was no nexus between tenant protections and the taxing authority and there had been no public hearing on the language. After we raised the alarm and after several stakeholder meetings that began last winter, agreement was reached in session on how to address the problem. We are very happy that we were joined by the Association of Washington Cities, the Association of Washington Counties and the state Realtors association to get this bill passed. Please thank Representative McBride for her leadership on this bill! You can call her office with a quick thank you message at (360) 786-7848.

HB 1682 by Representative Fey (27th LD, Tacoma) passed the Senate with a strong bipartisan vote and now also has to go back to the House for concurrence. This bill is known as the “Homeless Student Stability Act” and will provide additional support for homeless students and their families, and to schools to better identify homeless students. Congratulations and thank you to our partners at Columbia Legal Services, especially Katara Jordan and Hillary Madsen who have worked for years on this important issue. And please call Representative Fey with a quick thank you message for his leadership at (360) 786-7974.

HB 1875 by Representative Walsh (16th LD, Walla Walla) passed the Senate unanimously and now has to go back to the House for concurrence. This bill will allow TANF recipients to participate in a two-year vocational education program instead of just one year of the program. This is critical in helping people earn the skills they want and need to get a living wage job. Please thank Representative Walsh for her strong leadership on this issue: (360) 786-7836.

Fate of Some Bills Still to Be Determined

Senator Nelson’s Bringing Washington Home Act, SB 6647 had a hearing last Wednesday morning, but the Senate Ways and Means committee has not brought it up for a vote. Since they heard it after the policy bill cutoff, they seem to agree that the bill is not subject to the ordinary deadlines. This can happen when a bill is deemed “necessary to implement the budget” (also referred to as “NTIB”). The Bringing Washington Home Act would invest almost $200 million dollars in homelessness and affordable housing, including the Housing Trust Fund. The resources come from the state’s Rainy Day Fund, which is a large pot of money set-aside for emergencies and budget shortfalls. As Senator Nelson has said, homelessness in our state is an emergency and the state should being doing a lot more to address it.

A new bill, 6671 by Senator Hill (45th LD, Woodinville) was introduced last week. It was heard on Wednesday and voted out of committee the next day. It is late in the session for new bills to be introduced so this bill was a surprise. It largely reconfigures reporting requirements of the Department of Commerce and adds new reporting requirements on counties. All counties receiving state homelessness dollars would now be required to provide yearly reports to the legislature on their progress in meeting the goals of 5 year plans to end homelessness (changed from 10 year plans).  Overall, the bill isn’t a problem but it misses the mark. To end homelessness, our state needs to invest in affordable housing, invest in mental health and chemical dependency services, end source of income discrimination and invest in more rent subsidies, and invest in safety net services for unaccompanied homeless youth, protect renters and ensure everyone has the opportunity for a living wage job. Studies and plans alone can’t end homelessness.

Helpful Links to Navigate the Legislative Process

The legislative process can be a bit self-referential and exclusive. But the state’s website and the Legislative Information Center are extremely helpful resources. Below are some links that we think are particularly helpful.

Let us know if you have questions about the process or have ideas on topics we should go into more depth on during the Housing Alliance’s “Learn at Lunch” calls and webinars that will be held this spring and summer. Email Teresa with your ideas at TeresaC@wliha.org.
 

Official website of the state legislature

List of on-line educational materials including “How a Bill Becomes Law”

Session Cutoff Calendar

State budget information, including legislative proposals and educational materials on the budgets.

Roster of State Lawmakers, includes the name and contact information of their Legislative Assistant and links to their home page, bill sponsorship and more.

Bill Information

State Laws (Revised Code of Washington) and Agency Rules (Washington Administrative Codes)

Washington Low Income Housing Alliance State Legislative Agenda


Conference on Ending Homelessness is Coming Up!

The annual Conference on Ending Homelessness is May 11 and 12th at the Spokane Convention Center. Scholarship applications and registration will open on March 14th. Mark your calendars now because this will be a dynamic and informative conference with something for everyone who wants to prevent and end homelessness. Whether you are a social worker, an advocate, someone with personal experiences of homelessness or a volunteer board member this conference will be full of information you won’t want to miss. Highlights for advocates include legislative workshops, an unveiling of a new toolkit to combat the criminalization of homelessness, and a workshop on how to help prevent the document recording fee cliff in 2019 when $30 will sunset.

Thank you for Your Advocacy

This legislative session has proved that it is advocacy that makes the difference. You can see it pay off firsthand when you spend as much time in Olympia as I do. If you sometimes feel like making another call or sending another email won’t make an impact, please consider how high of a priority affordable housing and homelessness has become for our lawmakers. It’s because of relentless and strategic advocacy that bills like the Bringing Washington Home Act were introduced and that so many good bills have passed this year. Advocacy can stand up to and overcome the other forces that influence Olympia such as deep campaign contributions. Our movement, and you, are being heard. Please keep it up and work to bring in others. Encourage your networks to join you in advocacy by sharing Housing Alliance alerts on Twitter and Facebook.

And thanks for all you do,

Michele

2016 Supplemental Budget 2.0 - Our Analysis

-UPDATED 3/11 TO INCLUDE SPECIAL SESSION SENATE BUDGET PROPOSAL. SEE TABLE BELOW

The Housing Alliance Policy Team

The State House of Representatives released its 2016 Supplemental Operating Budget proposal on Monday, Feb 22, 2016, and we are pleased to report that it is a stellar budget for housing and homelessness services. The House has proposed nearly $60 million in new investments in housing assistance and homelessness services for youth and young adults, families, seniors, and people with disabilities. This proposal comes at a time when homelessness is at emergency levels in communities in every corner of Washington. See below for how the House's budget proposal compares to the Governors budget proposal. 

Please consider reaching out to the Chair and Vice Chair of the House Appropriation Committee to thank them for introducing a strong operating budget that invests new resources in housing and homelessness services. Here is the budget writers' contact information:

The House's budget is the second of three 2016 Supplemental Operating Budget proposals that will be introduced this legislative session. It follows the Governor's budget, which was released on December 17, 2015, and it precedes the Senate's budget, which will be released this week. Once all three budgets have been introduced, leaders from the House and Senate will meet with the Governor to negotiate a final budget that all three bodies agree to pass in to law. A final budget is expected to be passed by Sine Die, the last day of the regular legislative session, on March 10, 2016. 

Stay tuned for additional budget updates over the next several weeks and please take action to tell your lawmakers that this is a great budget for affordable housing and homelessness. In addition to the Senate's Operating Budget proposal, we are also waiting for the House and Senate's Capital budget proposals. Additional budget analayses will be posted on our blog, and budget advocay alerts and updates will be emailed to our email list. You can sign-up to receive housing and homelessness action alerts here if you are not already subscribed.  

Thank you for your advocacy!

 

2016 Supplemental Operating Budget Proposals

 

Budget Item

Governor Budget – 12.17.15

House Budget – 2.22.16

Senate Budget - 2.24.16 

Senate
Budget -
3.11.16

Housing & Essential Needs

 

No Change

No Change

No Change

No Change

Aged, Blind, & Disabled Program

 

No Change

No Change

No Change

No Change

Medical Care Services

 

No Change

No Change

Analysis in Progress

No Change

SSI Facilitation Services

 

No Change

No Change

No Change

No Change

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

 

No Change

No Change

No Change

No Change

Behavioral Health Housing Support & Step Down Services

+$2.8 Million

+$2.762 Million

 

+$2.762 Million

+$2.762 Million

Consolidated Homelessness Grant Restoration

 

Not Included

+$6.62 Million

+$7.466 Million

+$6.62 Million

Consolidated Homelessness Grant Youth Investment

 

Not Included

+$787,000

Not Included

+$787,000

Emergency Homelessness Investments Funded Via Budget Stabilization Account With Authorization From HB 2988                            

Rapid Rehousing, Behavioral Health

 

Not Included

+$5 Million

Not Included

Not Included

Rapid Rehousing, Families

 

 

Not Included

+$2.5 Million

Not Included

Not Included

Rental Assistance

 

Not Included

+$10 Million

Not Included

Not Included

Permanent Supportive Housing Services & Shelter

 

Not Included

+$19.729 Million

Not Included

Not Included

 

Youth & Young Adult Homelessness Investments

 

HOPE Beds

 

Not Included

$1.028 Million for 23 HOPE Beds

+1.506 Million for 10 CRC & 18 HOPE Beds

+$1.028 Million for HOPE Beds and +$714,000 for ten crisis residential centers beds.

Young Adult Shelter Beds

 

Not Included

$420,000

Not Included

+$420,000

Street Youth Services

 

Not Included

$800,000

+555,000
($120,000 set aside for South King County)

+$800,000 ($120,000 set aside for South King County)

Homeless Student Stability Act Funding (HB 1682)

 

Not Included

+$4 Million

Not Included

Not Included

Other housing trust account transfers 
 
Housing Trust Account transfer to General Fund 0 0 -$1 Million -$1 Million
Housing Trust Account transfer to Home Security Fund 0 0 -$4 Million -$4 Million

 

Capital Budget Item

Governor Budget – 12.17.15

House Capital Budget – 2.24.16

Senate Capital Budget –
2.24.16

Weatherization Matchmaker Program

+$5 Million

0

0

Housing Trust Fund Portfolio Preservation Program

+$2.5 Million

0

0

Rapid Housing Improvements to bring private market rental homes into compliance with established housing standards

+$1.5 Million

0

0

Rapid Housing Acquisition Demonstration to develop congregate small unit dwellings or convert single-family homes into multi-family homes

+$1.275 Million

0

0

Housing Trust Fund

+$1 Million
For Affordable Senior Housing

-$4.3 Million

0

Landlord Mitigation Fund (only accessible in jurisdictions that prohibit rental source of income discrimination)

+$125,000

+$125,000 (from Commerce's Housing Trust Account)

0

Study of housing opportunities for veterans experiencing homelessness & the conversion of units to provide PSH for geriatric veterans with psychiatric disorders

+$100,000

+$100,000 (from Commerce’s Housing Trust Account)

0

Homeless Youth Competitive Grant Program (includes set asides for $1.03/Cocoon house and $1.545/PSKS youth facility in Seattle)

0

+$5 Million

0

Riverton Park home-ownership project

0

+$600,000 (From Ultra energy efficient affordable housing appropriation)

0

Mental Health Housing Health Homes

0

0

+$7.5 million ($4.5 million in new dollars, $3 million from Commerce's Housing Trust Account).

Mental Health Housing, First and Denny

0

0

$500,000

 

 


 

The Week In Housing Advocacy - Weeks 5 and 6

Michele Thomas, Director of Policy and Advocacy

Although this legislative session is technically a short one, there has been a lot of movement on bills so far. With only three weeks left, we are happy to share that all of our key lead and support issues are still alive, and many bad bills are dead for the session. We still need your advocacy though. Please take action now to tell your lawmakers to fix the shortfall in homelessness funding and to invest in affordable homes.

What happens next

Although this legislative session is technically a short one, there has been a lot of movement on bills so far. With only three weeks left, we are happy to share that all of our key lead and support issues are still alive, and many bad bills are dead for the session. We still need your advocacy though. Any bills still alive will have closely timed hurdles to get through in order to keep moving. The first floor cutoff was last week, Feb. 17th. All bills had to clear their house of origin (House bills had to clear the house, Senate bills had to clear the Senate). The process was already a long one for these bills: They had to make it out of their policy and/or fiscal committee, get out of the Rules Committee, and then get an affirmative vote on the Floor. Bills that have made it this far will face the same hurdles in the other chamber.


The next cutoff is this Friday the 26th. Bills must be voted out of the opposite chamber's policy committee by then. Any bills with fiscal impacts must also clear the opposite chamber's fiscal committee by Monday the 29th. The only bils that are not subject to these deadlines are bills considered "necessary to implement the buget". Those bills are not subject to any cutoffs, other than the last day of session, which is scheduled for March 10th.

One key bill, HB 1565, is at rist because it has not yet been scheduled for a hearing:

HB 1565 will outlaw discrimination based on a renter's use of housing assistance or income assistance. It was passed out of the House last week, but Sentor O'Ban, the chair of the Senate Human Services, Mental Health & Housing Committee must bring the bill up for a hearing and a vote. Please contact hime to ask him to give the bill a hearing. It only has until Friday to keep moving this session!




Email to Senator O’Ban embedded in the email blast text:

Steve.O'Ban@leg.wa.gov

Subject: Please give HB 1565 a hearing! Everyone deserves an opportunity to live in safe, affordable home!

Content:

Senator O'Ban,

 

Please give HB 1565 a hearing and bring the bill up for a vote. This is a very important bill that will open up housing opportunities for vulnerable households including veterans, seniors, people with disabilities, households with young children and more. We need the private market to be partners in ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to live in a safe, healthy, affordable home. Housing assistance is a necessity for many of Washington’s households - without it, many are unable to leave homelessness or will face it. Every renter should be given an equal opportunity to apply and shouldn’t be turned away because of stigmas and stereotypes. Please help ensure that HB 1565 keeps moving in the legislative process.
 

 

Below is a grid that outlines where all the key bills are at, including our lead bills! As you can see, things are largely still looking good. Only two bills that we oppose are still alive, but many important housing bills are still moving.
 

Housing Alliance position
 

Bill

Title

Status

Next steps

Sponsor

Lead

HB 1565

Concerning the preservation of housing options for participants in government assistance programs.

Human Services, Mental Health & Housing.

Senator O'Ban (28th LD) needs to schedule the bill for a hearing. (not scheduled as of 6:00 pm 2/19)

Ormsby

Support

E2SHB 1605

Modifying certain provisions governing benefit charges of fire protection districts and regional fire protection service authorities.

Senate Committee on Government Operations & Security

Hearing 2/25 10:00 AM

Peterson

Support

3SHB 1682

Improving educational outcomes for homeless students through increased in-school guidance supports, housing stability, and identification services.

Senate Committee on Early Learning & K-12 Education

Hearing 2/22 at 1:30

Fey

Support

ESHB 1875

Concerning the definition of work activity for the purposes of the WorkFirst program.

Human Services, Mental Health & Housing.

Hearing 2/25 12:00

Walsh

Support

SHB 2396

Concerning access to nonemergency, outpatient, primary health care services for unaccompanied homeless youth under the federal McKinney-Vento homeless assistance act.

Senate Health Care

Senator Becker (2nd LD) needs to schedule the bill for a hearing (not scheduled as of 6:00 pm 2/19)

McBride

Support

SHB 2585

Concerning private activity bond allocation

Senate Financial Institutions & Insurance.

Hearing 2/24 1:30

Robinson

Support

ESHB 2834

Homeless youth

Human Services, Mental Health & Housing.

Hearing 2/23 at 10:00

Senn

Lead

EHB 2971

Addressing real estate as it concerns the local government authority in the use of real estate excise tax revenues and regulating real estate transactions.

Senate Committee on Ways & Means

Hearing 2/23 at 3:30 PM

McBride

Oppose

SSB 5221

Concerning the disposition of tenant property placed upon the nearest public property.  

House Judiciary

Heard on 2/18

Benton

Oppose

SB 5894

Addressing unlawful activities on certain rental properties

House Judiciary

Hearing 2/23 at 10:00 AM

Sheldon

Support

SSB 6211

Concerning the exemption of property taxes for nonprofit homeownership development.

House Committee on Community Development and Housing & Tribal Affairs

Hearing 2/22 at 1:30

Dammeier

Support

2SSB 6239

Providing local governments with options to preserve affordable housing in their communities.

House Committee on Community Development and Housing & Tribal Affairs

Hearing 2/22 at 1:30

Fain

Support

SSB 6337

Disposing tax foreclosed property to cities for affordable housing purposes.

House Committee on Community Development and Housing & Tribal Affairs

Hearing 2/22 at 1:30

Darneille

Support

SSB 6342

Concerning private activity bond allocation.

House Committee on Community Development and Housing & Tribal Affairs

Hearing 2/22 at 1:30

Miloscia

Lead

ESB 6413

Modifying residential landlord-tenant act provisions relating to tenant screening, evictions, and refunds.


 

House Judiciary

Hearing 2/24 at 8:00 AM

Mullet



Budgets will be released starting Monday the 22!

The House will release their Supplemental Operating Budget on Monday and their Supplemental Capital Budget on Wednesday. This is the second half of the biennium so the budgets are based off of last year’s and are therefore “supplemental”. Given the recent bad news in the revenue forecast (see below) it is wise to not expect many new allocations in the budgets. The Senate is likely to release and hear their budgets on Wednesday the 24th, but at the time of publication they had not publicly released their plans.

The Housing Alliance has been working hard to make sure that the Operating Budget includes the needed language to address the significant shortfall in homelessness funding (also being talked about as the shortfall in the Consolidated Homeless Grants). We will continue working to ensure that there are no cuts to key safety net programs such as the Housing and Essential Needs program and the Aged, Blind and Disabled program.

The Capital Budget is where the Housing Trust Fund is funded and we have been working hard to ensure that there is new money available for affordable housing. We have also been encouraging lawmakers to include the Governor’s budget recommendations, especially one which creates a landlord mitigation fund for landlords with rental units in jurisdictions that protect against source of income discrimination.

Once the budgets are released, the Housing Alliance will be using our blog and social media to share updates. You can join this us by taking action and by using your own social media to help more people get the message. Watch for a shareable graphic to use on facebook and twitter. We encourage you to share it on your own page to promote others to take action. Use the message "Our leaders should be working to create homes, not homelessness."

Take Action Today

Now is an optimal time to take action on the budget. There is still time to influence budget writers! Please take action now to tell your lawmakers to fix the shortfall in homelessness funding and to invest in affordable homes.

State Budget Forecast - Gloomy Outlook

On Wednesday the 17th, the State’s Economic and Revenue Forecast Council released the latest economic forecast. The council is required to provide lawmakers with an economic forecast that they can use to then write the state budget. The budget outlook was bleak and they forecasted deeper deficits than previously anticipated. In a rare move, Representative Dunshee voted to reject the Council’s forecast. As the lead budget writer for the House Operating Budget, his rejection of the forecast was a surprise move. It is unclear how it will impact the looming budget negotiations, but concerns about cuts are deepening. Stay tuned for updates on budget news and check out the Budget and Policy Center’s blog. They make a good case that new revenue is needed.

Keep the advocacy coming!

Housing and homelessness advocates have been making your voices heard this session. From the 700 of you who attended advocacy day earlier this month, to the hundreds of you who have taken action each week - your input is making a difference! Please keep it up as we near the end of the session. These last weeks will be critical and every one of you is needed to push these important bills and budget asks to the finish line. Don’t forget to take action now!

 

Michele and the Housing Alliance team

 

The Week In Housing Advocacy - Weeks 3 and 4

Michele Thomas, Director of Policy and Advocacy

Half way through the session, housing issues alive and well!

We are now at the halfway point of the legislative session and we are happy to report that all of our priority issues are still alive and well. Affordable housing and homelessness remains a top issue for many lawmakers, and the near 700 people who came to Olympia on February 2nd for Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day certainly helped!

The last two weeks in Olympia were a flurry of hearings and votes by lawmakers to move bills out of their policy committee before they hit the first deadline or “cutoff” of the session. Tuesday, February 9th brings the second deadline: bills have to clear fiscal committees in order to keep moving. Here is the status of our lead bills and some key support bills as well:
 

Addresses housing options for participants in government assistance programs. (Outlawing Discrimination based on a Renter’s Source of Income.)

HB 1565 by Representative Ormsby

Passed out of House Judiciary Committee on 2/4. Currently in House Rules Committee.

SB 5378 by Senator Miloscia

This bill is dead since it didn’t get a vote in Senate Human Services, Mental Health and Housing Committee. But the House companion (1565) can still pass!

Addresses tenant screening, evictions, and deposit or security refunds under the residential landlord-tenant act.

SB 6413 by Senator Mullet

Passed out of the Senate Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee unanimously on 2/3. Currently in Senate Rules.

HB 2811 by Representative Walkinshaw

Passed out the House Judiciary Committee unanimously on 2/4. Currently in House Rules.

Establishes the homeless student stability and opportunity gap act.

SB 6298 by Senator Frockt

Passed the Senate Committee on Early Learning & K-12 Education unanimously on 1/28. Currently in Senate Ways and Means.

HB 1682 by Representative Fey

Passed out House Appropriations on 1/25. Currently in House Rules.

Authorizes city governing authorities to adopt a property tax exemption program, and county governing authorities to adopt a property tax exemption program for unincorporated jurisdictions, to preserve affordable housing that meets health and quality standards for very low-income households at risk of displacement or that cannot afford market-rate housing.

HB 2544 by Representative Frame

Passed the House Committee on Community Development, Housing and Tribal Affairs on 2/2 and was heard in House Finance on 2/5.

SB 6239 by Senator Fain

Passed the Senate Human Services, Mental Health and Housing Committee on 2/1 and was heard in Senate Ways and Means on 2/4.

Addresses the sale of manufactured/mobile home communities. (Gives nonprofits the opportunity to purchase).

HB 2799 by Representative McBride

Passed House Judiciary on 2/4 and is scheduled for a hearing in House Finance on 2/8 at 8:00 AM.

Revises the definition of "work activity," for purposes of the WorkFirst program, to increase the threshold from twelve months to twenty-four months for vocational educational training, with respect to any individual.

HB 1875 by Representative Walsh

Passed the House last year and is now in House Rules.

 

Time to Speak Up for the Housing Trust Fund!

Budget writers are right now negotiating what to include in their budget proposals. The House will come out first with their budgets, sometime around Presidents Day. Since the budgets are not ready, there is still time to make sure that the Housing Trust Fund is funded at $10 million. Take action today and challenge your colleagues, friends and family to join you

Senator Sharon Nelson and Senate Democrats introduce the “Bring Washington Home Act”

On Thursday, February 4th, SB 6647/Nelson “The Bring Washington Home Act” was introduced. This bill will allocate $186 million to affordable housing & homelessness from the “rainy day fund”. With leverage from tax credits and local sources overall, it will invest a total of $300 million in affordable housing and homelessness programs! This is a bold proposal to address the crisis of homelessness that every community in our state is facing. The most basic duty of government is to protect its residents from danger, and our state is failing if even one person is forced to sleep outdoors. But we are failing miserably when thousands suffer this fate every night. All levels of government need to step up, including the federal government, but the Washington State Legislature must do more.

Senator Nelson’s bold proposal should be endorsed by all lawmakers, but it is possible that it won’t be given a hearing in the Senate. Some lawmakers have asserted that homelessness is only a problem in Seattle. If you’d like to join our letter to editor campaign to shine a spotlight on homelessness in every community in our state, please contact Teresa Clark today.
Check out the press conference on the bill’s release here.
And read our press statement here.

State Releases New Homeless Public School Student Numbers and Finds 9.1% Increase

On February 2nd, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) reported that 35,511 students were homeless in the 2014-15 school year. This is a 9.1 % increase from the previous school year and represents 3.3% of all public school students. OSPI reports that the four-year graduation rate for homeless students in the class of 2015 was 51.9% while the rate for all students was 78.1%.

According to our partners at Columbia Legal Services, the new data reveals that homelessness continues to disproportionately impact students of color. African American, American Indian, and Latino students are 2 to 3 times more likely to be homeless. CLS estimates that between 2,600 and 4,400 of these students may be unaccompanied homeless youth who are not in the custody of a parent or guardian.

You can see how many students were reported as homeless in your local school district here

Lots of Media Interest in bill that bans Source of Income Discrimination

Media interest in a bill can be hard to come by, but there has been a lot of interest in our efforts to outlaw source of income discrimination. These articles are a valuable tool for educating lawmakers and the general public alike. Please spread the word by sharing them via your social media networks. And special thanks to John, Carissa, Mindy, and the many other tenants who have been sharing their personal stories with lawmakers and reporters.

Vouchers little help if landlords reject them
Olympian Editorial Board

Tenants on public aid find some doors closed
By Jordan Schrader, Tacoma News Tribune

Lawmakers try to prevent discrimination of tenants with housing vouchers
By Natasha Chen, KIRO 7

Bring your Board of Directors to Olympia!

With half of the session left to go, there is still time to bring your board of directors to Olympia to meet with lawmakers. And the Housing Alliance can help. If you are interested in learning more about the logistics and benefits of getting your board involved, please contact Teresa Clark at TeresaC@wliha.org. If getting everyone to Olympia seems daunting, you could also consider “virtual meetings” with your lawmakers. Contact us soon to talk more about getting your board involved during this legislative session.

Thank you for your advocacy and don’t forget to take action today for the Housing Trust Fund.

Sincerely,
Michele

There's More To Do - Together.

Rachael Myers, Executive Director

We are grateful to the Seattle King County Coalition on Homelessness for providing leadership in conducting the One Night Count of people experiencing homelessness in King County, and to the volunteers who spent the night documenting this crisis.  

The number of people surviving outside in King County – 4,505 – is heartbreaking. On the morning of January 29th volunteers across King County counted those who are unsheltered - families with babies and school age children, people in wheelchairs, people sleeping on buses, senior citizens, and so many more. Some would leave their tents or cars in the morning to go to a classroom, or to a job. All are human, members of someone’s family, and all are depending on us to do a better job at solving this crisis.

Homelessness has been declared an emergency in Seattle and King County, but this crisis extends beyond these borders. Local communities all across Washington are experiencing a homeless emergency, and it is not a crisis they can solve alone. It will take the combined efforts of community members, local partnerships, the state, and the federal government all working together.

That’s why the Housing Alliance is working hard at the state level to fight for resources like the Housing Trust Fund and to protect the Consolidated Homeless Grant – both of which help local communities address homelessness. It’s why we’re working to improve tenant rights and protections, because unfair and unnecessarily barriers to housing - like landlords refusing to accept a housing voucher - are making this problem worse.

It’s also why we’re calling on the federal government to come to the table as a true partner in addressing the housing crisis that exists all across the nation. 35 years of cuts to federal housing programs have driven much of what we see on the streets today.

And it’s why we’re building a movement - of people who care, who will speak up, and who are willing to do the work.

We know how to solve this crisis.

What’s missing is the political will.

Join us in Olympia to talk to lawmakers on Feb 2 

Contact your legislators today 

Sign the petition calling for 7 million affordable homes across the country 
 



 

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