The Week in Housing Advocacy

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Michele Thomas, Director of Policy and Advocacy

This year’s legislative session has gotten off to a slower, but perhaps more thoughtful, start. Many members of the legislature are new and many of the staff members, both partisan and nonpartisan, are new as well. The Governor’s Office is still hiring their lead staff and everything is taking longer than usual to settle. 

$175 Million for the Housing Trust Fund

Despite the slow starts, this week's first highlight comes from Monday’s House Capital Budget Committee hearing. The Housing Alliance organized stakeholders to testify about the importance of the Housing Trust Fund. The committee heard outstanding testimony in defense of $175 million for the Housing Trust Fund. You can hear from two of the standouts below. The week in review continues after the jump.

David Lord, Director of Public Policy for Disability Rights Washington

"The Housing Trust Fund is one of those resources that really makes a difference. I see it all the time with people that I encounter who've now got a place to live that is decent and that they can afford to live on with their SSI..."

 

Ingrid McDonald, Advocacy Director of AARP Washington

"This is especially important because of the age wave on the horizon. Twelve percent of our population now is 65-plus. By 2030 that will be twenty percent. And the population of 85-plus individuals, the oldest of the older cohort, will triple by 2060. So we really need to be thinking about building the housing infrastructure that is going to work for a very different population."

 

 

Startling Stats on the Age of Homeless Students

Also, committees are taking advantage of the relatively slow start by devoting more time to examine issues with work sessions. The Housing Alliance helped to organize two of these sessions on affordable housing and homelessness for the House Community Development, Housing, and Tribal Affairs Committee. This provided us with a great opportunity to educate committee members on key programs like the Housing Trust FundHousing and Essential Needs/Disability Lifeline and the Washington Families FundYou can see one of the highlights from Tuesday's session in our previous blog post.  Casey Trupin from Columbia Legal Services wrapped up that particular session on homelessness and did a great job highlighting the impact that a lack of safe, affordable housing has on educational achievement. He shared that over 50% of homeless students counted by their school are under the age of 10. This startling fact moved the committee, who responded with pledges to examine the issue more and to act this session. You can find more data on homelessness and student learning at their SchoolHouse Washington website.

Movement on the 72-Hour Notification Rule for Homeless Youth in Shelters

Lastly, this week saw some significant movement on one of our Support Items, permanently reinstating the 72-hour notification rule for homeless youth in the shelter system, now SB 5147. Advocates participated in a great hearing on Thursday. Thanks to Terry Pottmeyer (Friends of Youth CEO) and Cassie Franklin (Cocoon House CEO) who both did a fantastic job of testifying before the Senate Human Services and Corrections Committee. In fact, the committee went immediately into Executive Session and passed the bill out of committee. It now goes directly to the Rules Committee as there is not a fiscal note.

 


 

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