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The Housing Alliance Policy & Advocacy Team
Governor Jay Inslee rolled out his budget and revenue proposals over the course of four days, saving affordable housing and homeless service funding until Thursday. And...<drum roll> affordable housing and homelessness programs fared well in the governor's budget proposal!
Thank you to everyone who contacted the governor in September asking him to not accept agency proposals to eliminate the Aged, Blind, and Disabled (ABD) program and SSI facilitation services and to cut the Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) program. We are very happy to share that all these programs have been held harmless in the governor's budget. And we are also very happy to share that a significant appropriation for affordable housing is in his capital budget (details below). Overall there is $100 million for affordable housing including $75 million for the Housing Trust Fund (with no buckets or project lists).
The reason the governor was able to protect affordable housing and homelessness programs: REVENUE. Some programs are directly tied to new revenue. And given the massive budget deficit, it is miraculous to see a budget proposal without deep cuts to affordable housing and the homelessness safety net.
Given this very positive budget news, we have three requests:
- Please take a moment to reflect on how effective advocacy has already been in this budget proposal.
- Then please continue the momentum by taking further advocacy action today for revenue. We now need lawmakers to know that the affordable housing and homelessness community supports revenue.
Please sign our petition as an individual and, if you can, as an organization.
- Thank Governor Inslee. He took a bold stand on revenue and we need to make it clear to the legislature that we will support them when they follow his lead.
You can leave him a message at 1.800.562.6000.
You can email him here.
You can tweet a thanks to him here.
You can also thank him in a Facebook post.
Thank you for your advocacy, and stay tuned for more budget details in the coming weeks ahead.
Homelessness Safety Net Services
- ABD unharmed (no cuts & no additional appropriation) - financial assistance for people with permanent disabilities.
- HEN unharmed (no cuts & no additional appropriation) - rent assistance for people with temporary disabilities.
- Incapacity determination staff unharmed.
- We haven’t yet confirmed if Medical Care Services for the aged population were cut.
- $780,000 reduction in SSI facilitation staff, but not from the DSHS Economic Services Administration.
- Governor's budget did not harm these programs that departments had proposed reducing/cutting:
ABD preserved, SSI facilitation
TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) Tribal Programs
LEP (Limited English Proficiency) services
Other Safety Net Services
- $1,700,000 cut to AREN (Additional Requirements for Emergent Needs) - a program that provides an emergency cash grant for families on TANF who experience an emergency or crisis requiring money*.
- $15,768,000 cut to TANF - Participation Incentive - This program provides an incentive payment to TANF WorkFirst parents who are participating in approved WorkFirst (TANF's job search and preparation program) activities at least 20 hours per week and meeting the requirements of their individual plans.
Mental Health Services
- Mental health budget overall 26% increase.
- Breakfast After the Bell (a specialized breakfast program for schoolchildren) funded, although we are seeking more details.
Capital Budget Affordable Housing Appropriations
- $75,000,000 for the Housing Trust Fund overall:
$60,000,000 of HTF is from a new capital budget appropriation.
$15,000,000 is a new appropriation from the Washington Housing Trust Account that is possibly tied to revenue from the governor's Cap and Trade Proposal.
- $5,000,000 is for an ultra-efficient affordable housing demonstration (from the State Taxable Building Construction Account).
- $5,000,000 is for Housing Trust Fund portfolio preservation (from the State Taxable Building Construction Account).
- $15,000,000 is for the Weatherization Matchmaker Program (program to help make low-income homes energy efficient) from the State Taxable Building Construction Account. Our partners Washington State Community Action Partnership (WSCAP) & Opportunity Council are requesting $20,000,000.
$100,000,000 for affordable housing!
Homeless Youth and Families
This budget creates an Office of Youth Homelessness:
- New general fund appropriation of $150,000 in 2016 and $150,000 in 2017 to create the office of youth homelessness:
"The office will be responsible for identifying service gaps for youth and young adults who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. The office will further lead efforts to improve data collection, ensure services are available statewide, and assure that programs fulfill federal regulations and guidelines for preventing and ending youth homelessness."
This budget transfers Crisis Residential Centers, Hope Beds, and Street Youth Services from DSHS to the new Office of Youth Housing at the Washington State Department of Commerce:
- $1,023,000 new appropriation.
- $10,741,000 in funding transferred from DSHS.
- $3,000,000 for the Washington Youth and Family Fund overall:
One-time funding of $2,000,000 from the Washington Housing Trust Account Operations and Maintenance Fund (O&M) and $1,000,000 from the State General Fund.
“Appropriation for fiscal year 2016 is provided solely for the Washington youth and families fund to address issues affecting unaccompanied youth and young adults as well as families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. The department of commerce shall work with the administrator of the Washington youth and families fund to assure a portion of the funding is used to build capacity among providers in identifying, engaging, and providing enhanced support for commercially sexually exploited children.”
Ending Family Homelessness
- $4,000,000 in new appropriations.
“The Ending Family Homelessness Initiative uses a rapid rehousing model to enable families to move into stable permanent housing through temporary rent assistance. Funding is provided to expand this program.”
Bolstering Economic Security
The budget proposal includes the Working Families Tax Rebate, which refunds 10% of people's Earned Income Tax Credit return. More than 435,000 families would receive a rebate of up to $624 per year. Offsets increase cost of energy from the governor's climate policy and helps make the state's tax system more equitable.
*To get AREN, you must:
- Be eligible for temporary assistance for needy families (TANF), state family assistance (SFA), or refugee cash assistance (RCA);
- Have an emergency housing or utility need;
- Have a good reason that you do not have enough money to pay your housing or utility costs; and
- Have not previously received the AREN maximum limit of seven hundred fifty dollars in a 12-month period. We will count all AREN payments received in a 12-month period by any adult in your TANF assistance unit, for any assistance unit, when we calculate your AREN limit.
Edit to add Working Families Tax Rebate and changed language: 12/19/2014, 1pm