Blogs

COVID-19 Housing and Homelessness Provider Stakeholder Call 4/22/2020

COVID-19 Housing and Homelessness Provider Stakeholder Call 4/22/2020

Here is a link to the 4/22/2020 recording

 

Speakers from 4/22/2020:

  

Action Alert: Take action today and email your members of congress!

Ask them to ensure that the next stimulus package includes:

  • $11.5 billion in Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) funding. This combined with the $4 billion previously provided in the CARES Act will reach the funding level needed to expand access to emergency shelter, short-term rental assistance, and housing stabilization services;
  • A uniform, national moratorium on evictions and foreclosures; and
  • $100 billion in rental assistance to keep people housed and ensure landlords, including low-income housing providers, have the income they need to continue to operate.

 

Resources Highlighted: 

COVID-19 Housing and Homelessness Provider Stakeholder Call 4/15/2020

Resources from 4/15/2020 COVID-19 Housing and Homelessness Stakeholders Call:

Here is the audio for 04/15/2020.

Speakers:

 

Action Alert: Take action today and email your members of congress!

Please contact your members of Congress today and ask them to ensure that the next stimulus package includes:

  • $11.5 billion in Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) funding. This combined with the $4 billion previously provided in the CARES Act will reach the funding level needed to expand access to emergency shelter, short-term rental assistance, and housing stabilization services;
  • A uniform, national moratorium on evictions and foreclosures; and
  • $100 billion in rental assistance to keep people housed and ensure landlords, including low-income housing providers, have the income they need to continue to operate.

 

Resources Highlighted: 

 

COVID-19 Housing and Homelessness Provider Stakeholder Call 4/08/2020

Resources for Weekly COVID-19 Housing and Homelessness Call - 04/08/2020

Here is a link to the recording of the 4/08/2020 call.

 

Speakers 04/08/2020

 

Tracking Federal Funding:  Here is a link to Denny Heck's bill, providing $100B for emergency rental assistance. 

Action Alert: Take action in support of this bill here

 

Resources Highlighted: 

COVID-19 Housing and Homelessness Provider Stakeholder Call 4/01/2020

Weekly COVID-19 Housing and Homelessness Call - 04/01/2020

 Audio of 4/01/2020 Stakeholder call

 

Speakers 04/01/2020:

 

Action Alert: As mentioned on the call, we just released an email action alert asking the Governor to extend and expand the eviction moratorium -- Please take action here!

 

Resources Highlighted: 

COVID-19 Housing and Homelessness Provider Stakeholder Call 3/25/2020

Weekly COVID-19 Housing and Homelessness Call - 03/25/2020

3-25-20 COVID-19 Call Recording

 

Speakers:

 As we continue to elevate the need and build the case for extending the eviction moratorium and appropriating rental assistance funding at the state and national level, we will need data and stories to present as evidence (even when to us the need is already clear). If you track data at your organization, or if you would like to help people share their stories, please connect with me ASAP at johns@wliha.org.

 

Sine Die 2020! Thanks for helping us make significant progress this session.

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CONTACT:

Jamala Henderson, Communications Specialist, Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, jamalah@wliha.org

206-442-9455 ex. 208

 

Rachael Myers, Executive Director, Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, rachaelm@wliha.org

 

 

 

Advocates for affordable housing and solutions to homelessness applaud progress made during 2020 legislative session

 

When the 2020 legislative session ended yesterday, it marked the third year in a row of state lawmakers taking major steps to ensure that more people in Washington have safe, affordable places to live.

 

Every year, the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance develops a set of policy priorities to expand housing opportunities for low-income Washingtonians. All but one of those priorities passed this year, as well several other important affordable housing bills.

 

According to Housing Alliance Executive Director, Rachael Myers, “We have much more to do to end homelessness and make housing more affordable for low-income households, but legislators took important steps this year. We applaud them for that, especially in light of unprecedented public health fears and fear about the economic impact that could have.”

 

Overall, affordable housing and homelessness resources included in the final budgets totaled 173.8 million. Important highlights include:

 

  • $40 million for the Housing Trust Fund to build affordable homes. The majority of homes built by the Housing Trust Fund serve extremely low-income households. According to a report released earlier this week by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, there are just 31 homes affordable and available in Washington State for every 100 households at that income level. While still an enormous gap, that’s better than last year’s 29. The improvement is likely due to state and local investments in affordable homes.
  • $10 million to rapidly preserve currently affordable homes that are at risk of losing affordability requirements. Over 5,000 affordable homes across the state are at risk of losing their affordability and that number grows significantly over the next ten years if nothing is done to prevent it.
  • $15 million to increase the Housing and Essential Needs rental assistance program for disabled adults.
  • $15 million for operations and maintenance of permanent supportive housing. Permanent supportive housing is a critical part of the solution to homelessness, housing people with significant behavioral and physical health needs.
  • $68 million for shelter for people experiencing homelessness.

 

The House’s original budget proposal included $60 million in capital funding for permanent supportive housing, which is not included in the final budget. While the final budget makes deep and important investments, especially in a supplemental budget year, permanent housing is ultimately the solution to unsheltered homelessness. Failing to invest in building permanent supportive housing is a missed opportunity.

 

The legislature also tapped the Budget Stabilization Account (“rainy day fund”) to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. The Housing Alliance is currently calling on state leaders to ensure that adequate resources are available to make sure that everything possible is done to protect people experiencing homelessness who are extremely vulnerable to the virus. “We circulated a letter late Thursday afternoon calling for state action to provide the resources and training needed for homelessness service providers across the state, and within three hours more than 200 organizations had signed on. We appreciate that the state is responding rapidly to mitigate this crisis, but we fear that without a direct and specific focus on the needs of people experiencing homelessness, many of our most vulnerable neighbors will not get the care and protection they need,” said Rachael Myers.


Lawmakers also passed a host of bills that will increase housing affordability and help stem the tide of homelessness. A particular highlight is passage of House Bill 1590/ Doglio which gives cities and counties the ability to implement a local sales and use tax for affordable housing through a vote of local elected officials. The legislature created this option in 2015 but required a ballot measure, and only a handful of cities have been able to use it. HB 1590 will make implementing this option quicker and more efficient, and could result in nearly $150 million for affordable housing and behavioral health programs across the state.

According to Michele Thomas, Housing Alliance Director of Policy and Advocacy, “This is a truly historic session. Our state’s elected officials prioritized affordable housing and homelessness by passing many critical bills and by appropriating an unprecedented amount of dollars for housing in their final budgets. Many new affordable homes will be built, low-income tenants in rural communities will not be displaced, moving will be more affordable, and people with disabilities will be given new opportunities for rental assistance to prevent homelessness. And these protections and investments couldn’t be coming at a more critical time as tens of thousands of households across the state face unemployment at a time of sky-high rents. Affordable housing is the solution to homelessness and this session ensures that the state continues on the path towards meeting the needs of every low-income household in our state.”

Additional key bills impacting affordable housing and homelessness

 

EHB 1694/ Morgan: Requiring landlords to allow installment payment plans for deposits, last month's rent and nonrefundable fees, and capping holding fees to no more than 25% of first month’s rent.


SHB 2384/ Doglio: Modernizes and expands a property tax exemption for affordable housing providers. This will significantly help nonprofits who often run on modest budgets to provide the affordable homes our communities so urgently need.

 

SHB 2634/ Walen: Creating a Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) exemption when selling to an affordable housing provider who acquires the property for affordable housing. This will incentivize sales to affordable housing providers and give them a leg up when competing for increasingly scarce land for multifamily housing.

 

EHB 2797/ Robinson: Improvements to last year’s HB 1406 so that local jurisdictions can take full advantage of the state sales tax credit for affordable housing. 34 counties to date have implemented this option and many cities across the state have as well, resulting in tens of millions of dollars for affordable housing and rental assistance each year over the life of the tax credit.

 

ESSB 6378/ Kuderer: Makes improvements to last year’s eviction reform bill (SB 5600) including improvements to eviction notices so tenants are informed about resources and improvements to the court eviction process so that tenants can stop an eviction when they are able to access rental assistance.

 

HB 2535/ Kirby: Providing for a grace period before late fees may be imposed for past due rent and allowing disabled and elderly tenants receiving federal income assistance to request a rent due date more in line with the date that their monthly income arrives.
 

SHB 2343/ Fitzgibbon: This is a follow-up bill to last year's 1923 also by Representative Fitzgibbon which addressed barriers to building affordable housing, incentivized cities to create housing plans and more. Most significantly for affordable housing, HB 2343 lowers the transit frequency times required in order to prevent a local jurisdiction from requiring parking for affordable housing which is a significant and unnecessary cost drive to building affordable homes. 

 

SHB 2456/ Callan: Expanding the homeless grace period for households accessing working connections child-care from four to twelve months in order to help them access employment, housing and services while their children are safe and high-quality childcare.SHB 2567/ Thai: Protecting access to courts for immigrant households by prohibiting warrantless, civil arrests inside court houses and by preventing judges, court staff and others from inquiring into or sharing citizenship status. This is critical in ensuring immigrant households can defend themselves in eviction lawsuits.

SHB 2441/ Entenman: Improving access to temporary assistance for needy families by adjusting when a family can be terminated from the program.

 

SHB 2607/ Callan: Improving access for youth and young adults experiencing homelessness to obtain a Washington state ID, including by expanding access for young adults aged 18 – 25 to qualify for reduced costs identicards.

 

SB 6229/ Kuderer: Streamlining reporting for recipients of housing-related state funding by removing Washington state quality award program requirements. This will reduce significant unnecessary and wasteful spending and staff time for nonprofits and local governments.

 

2SSB 6478/ Nguyen: Revising the TANF program to allow families to maintain benefits beyond the program time-limits if they are facing hardship, including homelessness.

 

 

These bills represent significant steps forward that will prevent and end homelessness for households across Washington State. The legislature missed the opportunity to make even more progress when they failed to pass HB 2453/Macri which would require landlords to have a legitimate business or behavioral reason to evict a tenant. Additionally, HB 2907/Macri and HB 2958/Springer did not pass and would have provided King County a new progressive revenue tool for addressing homelessness. Those efforts will come up again in a future legislative session.

 

 

The Washington Low Income Housing Alliance leads the movement to ensure that everyone in Washington has the opportunity to live in a safe, healthy, affordable home. Our members include 140+ organizations all across Washington and our online action network is made up of almost 10,000 individuals, including many people who have personally experience homelessness or housing instability.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Executive Director Statement on Partnership for Affordable Housing

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January 8, 2020

 

Greetings,

 

We know that some of our members and allies are being contacted and invited to sign on to a newly formed group called Partnership for Affordable Housing. The group is primarily made up of realtors, landlord lobby groups, bankers, business groups, and several construction unions.

 

They are describing themselves as an affordable housing coalition and incorporating language supporting things we all know are needed like rental subsidies and funding for the Housing Trust Fund. While we welcome support for these efforts, the real point of this coalition is to oppose any legislative efforts aimed at stabilizing rents.

 

The Housing Alliance encourages you to decline any invitation to join this coalition. By being a part of the Housing Alliance and/or your local housing consortium, you are already part of a powerful affordable housing coalition grounded in the values of expanding opportunity to affordable homes and ending homelessness. Even if this group shared these values, new groups like this don’t generally add value, but they do confuse and dilute our message.

 

The Housing Alliance believes that we should look to what Oregon and California have passed recently and consider legislation in Washington that places reasonable limits on rent increases. And we believe this should be combined with investments in housing that is affordable to low income people and eliminating barriers to housing production.

 

Partnership for Affordable Housing is fundamentally an anti-rent control lobbying and communications effort, not a welcome or needed partner.

 

For some thoughtful discussions on rent stabilization / rent control see:

 

Crosscut:

Who's Afraid of Rent Control

 

The Stranger:

The Need for Rent Control

The Case Against Rent Control

What Washington Can Learn From Rent Control Victories in Oregon and California

 

 

Rachael Meyers

Executive Director

Washington Low Income Housing Alliance

Executive Director Statement on Governor Inslee's Proposed Homelessness Investments

                                                                                  

 
For Immediate Release                                                                                                                             
Wednesday December 18, 2019

Download this statement here

      

Statement from Executive Director Rachael Myers on Governor Jay Inslee’s proposed investments in homelessness programs

 

At a time when the federal government is not only underfunding, but ignoring best practices for ending homelessness, we are extremely proud that our Governor is recommending significant new investments in the Housing and Essential Needs program, permanent supportive housing, shelter, and other critical homelessness interventions. 

 

The proposal will invest $146 million in the current budget and includes funding for enhanced shelter and for long term solutions including permanent supportive housing. It comes after last year’s historic appropriation of $175 million in the state Housing Trust Fund to build new affordable homes, and the creation of a new local funding source for cities and counties to use to build affordable homes in their communities (HB1406). This year we will also be asking the Legislature for an additional $10 million investment in the Housing Trust fund in order to prevent the loss of currently affordable homes.

 

Expanding shelter is necessary when people have nowhere to sleep tonight. Permanent housing is the solution to homelessness. Both are necessary investments and we applaud the Governor for recognizing that. We agree with Governor Inslee that Washington’s homelessness crisis is being driven by the sky-high rents across the state. Income inequality also underlies our crisis – as rent levels are set based on what upper income earning households can afford, middle- and lower-income households are left struggling to keep a roof over their heads. Many are not able to make it.

 

The unprecedented proposal for a deep investment in effective strategies to solve homelessness is bold, justified, and will be put to immediate use to keep people in their homes. We call on the Legislature to follow the Governor’s lead.

 

 

Rachael Myers

Executive Director

Washington Low Income Housing Alliance

Join WLIHA & WHAAF for our 2019 Annual Member Meeting – it's virtual!

 

You’re invited to join the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance and the Washington Housing Alliance Action Fund's Annual Member Meeting, taking place this year as a virtual event.

We have a lot to celebrate and an exciting state legislative strategy for next year that we can't wait to share with you! State legislators will be taking your questions about what to expect in the 2020 legislative session, and we’ll also get to hear from local lawmakers about recent wins and housing needs across Washington.

 

What: Annual Member Meeting
When: Tuesday, December 10 from 4:30-5:30pm
Where: Anywhere! All you need is your phone or a computer to join us for this short, power-packed member meeting.

To get the login details: RSVP here

 

If you have questions about this event, please contact teresac@wliha.org

 


 

And, if you're in the King County region, join the Housing Development Consortium and the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance on Thursday, December 12 to close out 2019! In addition to brief HDC member business, we are gathering with members, supporters, and friends for a joint happy hour and networking celebration! We hope you’ll be able to join in the festivities, including the famous HDC prize wheel, appetizers, wine, beer, and non-alcoholic refreshments. We'll also relive some of the top advocacy and programmatic moments of 2019 and look ahead to the 2020 legislative session!

What: End of Year Celebration
When: Thursday, December 12, 5:30 - 7:30 pm

Where: ACT Theatre, Bullitt Cabaret
Getting there: ACT Theatre is located on 7th and Union. Visit ACT's website for directions and parking

 

Meet Jamala Henderson, Storyteller

By Christena Coutsoubos, Housing Alliance Board Member

Jamala Henderson joined the Housing Alliance staff May 6 as our new communications specialist. Her background is in journalism, where she spent fourteen years as a news anchor and reporter at KUOW. Jamala holds a B.A. from The Evergreen State College and is working towards a master’s degree in Digital Media Communications at the University of Washington. 

Meet Jamala Henderson, the Housing Alliance’s new communications specialist and self-described “geekiest of geeks.”  Visitors to her office are greeted by a line of figurines from her favorite science fiction franchises. She’s a frequent speaker at GeekGirlCon, moderating panels such as “Geek Elders Speak.”  Her Twitter feed is consumed with discussions of Game of Thrones and Star Wars. She’d love to talk with you about that episode of Star Trek: Discovery that was written by two women of color. 

What does sci-fi fandom have to do with housing justice? Jamala says it’s all about the power of storytelling. “The stories we read for fun, to take us away from our lives –those stories can get people to think about issues, things they might not necessarily think about otherwise,” says Jamala, “if you do it in ways that make it compelling.”  

In her 14-year career as a journalist, Jamala loved telling stories of real people that might not otherwise be heard. “I believe a story well told is what helps human beings grab onto an issue, helps us get a bit of understanding. I get really excited about the ways in which stories can reach us and help us think creatively.”  Jamala’s determined to bring her love of well-told stories to her new work at the Housing Alliance. “Listening is my superpower,” she says, and she intends to use it to uplift the voices of people who have struggled with housing insecurity. 

The switch from journalism to advocacy may seem unusual, but Jamala is eager to embrace the freedom she sees in this new field. “There was a tension in me. I needed a position where I could advocate for what I believe in, express my opinions and what I see in the world to the fullest,” she says. Like many of us, Jamala has been distressed by the visible suffering of people experiencing homelessness and struggled to know how to respond. “I’m excited to expand my knowledge of what I can do. Getting deeper into how we as people of color can uplift ourselves and others to live decent, happy lives and have homes, friends and support.”  

In addition to her work at the Housing Alliance, Jamala is pursuing a master’s degree in Digital Media Communications from the University of Washington. She hopes to use it to develop the next generation of storytellers. “For me, most important part is that I want to be able to teach. I want to be like Yoda and pass on what I have learned!”

You can welcome Jamala to the housing justice team at JamalaH@wliha.org, or connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.  She’ll be listening for you!

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