Thursday March 10 was the last day of the 2022 legislative session and we celebrated historic investments in affordable homes and homelessness prevention! Washington state lawmakers chose to make unprecedented investments to address our state’s affordable housing and homelessness crisis. The state’s Supplemental Capital Budget included over $440 million new dollars for housing justice priorities including:
- $114 million for the Housing Trust Fund
- $240 million for Rapid Housing Acquisition
- $60 million for the new Apple Health and Homes program
- $15 million for homeless youth facilities
- $2 million for manufactured housing preservation
- $9 million for affordable housing development utility connections
The Operating Budget included:
- $2 million for pre-eviction legal aid
- $55 million for frontline homelessness service providers
- $68.5 million for rental assistance
- $4.5 million for foreclosure prevention
- $45 million for services to help transition people experiencing unsheltered homelessness into affordable housing
- And funding to permanently increase the Aged, Blind, and Disabled cash grant from $197 to $417 per month.
This is what a serious commitment to ending homelessness and filling our state’s gap in affordable homes looks like! The historic appropriations in this budget will house and support many thousands of people across the state. Altogether, the new investments finalized in the budgets this week are well over $669 million!
And the total two-year capital investment for building or acquiring affordable homes and shelter is over $734 million dollars! These budget investments show that advocacy works and that advocates pushed lawmakers to step up big to solve our state’s affordable housing and homelessness crisis.
Despite these historic budget investments, many important policy bills died early in the process. That being said, several Housing Alliance priority and support bills made it through the short session with bipartisan support. We are so grateful to advocates and elected housing champions who made this possible!
- Senate Bill 5749, sponsored by Senator Yasmin Trudeau, requires landlords to provide rental payment options beyond just an online portal.
- House Bill 1643, sponsored by Representative Hackney, creates a real estate excise tax exemption to give nonprofit affordable housing developers and local governments a leg up when competing for properties, making it easier and quicker to build more affordable housing.
- House Bill 1866, sponsored by Representative Frank Chopp, creates the “Apple Health and Homes” program which will increase and streamline permanent supportive housing, pairing it with health services.
- House Bill 2075, sponsored by Representative Strom Peterson, will keep DSHS services open and accessible, which has not been the case over the last two years.
- House Bill 1905, sponsored by Representative Tana Senn, prevents discharges into homelessness among young people exiting publicly funded systems of care such as the juvenile justice system, behavioral health inpatient care, and foster care.
- House Bill 1724, sponsored by Representative Nicole Macri, will create a task force in the Department of Commerce with permanent supportive housing providers and add a seat on the Affordable Housing Advisory Board for a permanent supportive housing provider.
It was unfortunate that bills as common sense as House Bill 1904, sponsored by Representative Strom Peterson, which would have required landlords to give six months’ notice of significant rent increases, did not gain enough support to continue on in the process. The Housing Alliance was also disappointed that even with tireless advocacy and widespread community support, HB 2017 and HB 2023 did not make it through this year’s session. House Bill 2017, also known as the Housing Justice Act, sponsored by Representatives Lauren Davis and Tarra Simmons, would have protected the formerly incarcerated and their family members from housing discrimination. House Bill 2023, sponsored by Representative David Hackney, would have added enforcement mechanisms for tenants to the residential landlord tenant act. The Housing Alliance will be back in 2023 to continue to push for the passage of these important bills and for more investments into affordable housing and homelessness prevention.
Thank you again to the thousands of advocates across the state who worked so hard this session for incredible housing justice wins.