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!





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:

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

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,


2016 Supplemental Budget 2.0 - Our Analysis


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 

Budget -

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


Not Included


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




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


Not Included


Street Youth Services


Not Included


($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 –

Weatherization Matchmaker Program

+$5 Million



Housing Trust Fund Portfolio Preservation Program

+$2.5 Million



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

+$1.5 Million



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

+$1.275 Million



Housing Trust Fund

+$1 Million
For Affordable Senior Housing

-$4.3 Million


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


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


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


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


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


+$5 Million


Riverton Park home-ownership project


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


Mental Health Housing Health Homes



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

Mental Health Housing, First and Denny







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:


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


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




Next steps



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)



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



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



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



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)



SHB 2585

Concerning private activity bond allocation

Senate Financial Institutions & Insurance.

Hearing 2/24 1:30



ESHB 2834

Homeless youth

Human Services, Mental Health & Housing.

Hearing 2/23 at 10:00



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



SSB 5221

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

House Judiciary

Heard on 2/18



SB 5894

Addressing unlawful activities on certain rental properties

House Judiciary

Hearing 2/23 at 10:00 AM



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



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



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



SSB 6342

Concerning private activity bond allocation.

House Committee on Community Development and Housing & Tribal Affairs

Hearing 2/22 at 1:30



ESB 6413

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


House Judiciary

Hearing 2/24 at 8:00 AM


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 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.


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 


The Week In Housing Advocacy - Weeks 1 and 2

Michele Thomas, Director of Policy and Advocacy

The 2016 state legislative session started on January 11th and it’s been a very busy two weeks! This email contains updates on how affordable housing and homelessness priorities are faring, plus a timely and important call to action.

The Week in Housing Advocacy will be published every other week throughout the session. On the off weeks we invite you to participate in advocate conference calls, which will include live updates from Olympia. These calls are open to all Housing Alliance advocates:

Housing Alliance advocate updates live from Olympia

All calls are at 12:00pm via this phone number and code: 1-866-339-4555, 2064429455

February 5
February 19
March 4
March 18

The Week in Housing Advocacy

The good news from Olympia is that affordable housing and homelessness are top-of-mind issues. The Housing Alliance has been joined by many in our efforts to eliminate barriers to housing and address the emergency of homelessness. The bad news is that Olympia is a very polarized environment and it is an extremely tight budget year. Despite these obstacles there are still opportunities to make real progress this session, but that hinges on whether or not lawmakers hear from you. There are many important issues lawmakers are grappling with and they need to hear that you want them to prioritize affordable housing and homelessness. Please take part in this week’s call to action to make sure lawmakers know that we need them to protect low-income renters from discrimination while also building more affordable housing!

Please call your lawmakers in Olympia. You can leave one message for all of your lawmakers (which includes two representatives, one senator and the governor). Call 1-800-562-6000 during 8:00 AM - 8:00 PM Monday through Friday.

Please call Monday with this simple message,

“Please outlaw discrimination based on a renter’s source of income by passing SB 5378 and HB 1565. We need to ensure that low-income renters are given an equal opportunity to apply for housing. And please fund the Housing Trust Fund at $10 million dollars to build homes for people with disabilities, seniors, homeless youth and more.”

Let us know if you get a response from your lawmakers! Email Teresa Clark, our new Mobilization Specialist at (and if you haven’t seen it yet, check out Teresa’s blog post to learn more about her extensive background in community organizing.

$10 Million for the Housing Trust Fund

This year we are asking for $10 million to be allocated to the Housing Trust Fund in the Supplemental Capital Budget. This year is the second half of the biennium and the legislature can make additional appropriations and adjustments to the budgets that they passed last year. There is capacity in the Capital Budget to fund the Housing Trust Fund at this level, but lawmakers are getting a lot of asks. In order to secure this funding, lawmakers needs to hear from you.

Here is a quick overview of key talking points you can use when you talk to lawmakers. To get a copy of our Housing Trust Fund briefing paper, click here.


  • The Housing Trust Fund supports community efforts to ensure the availability of safe, healthy, and affordable housing by providing loans and grants for construction, acquisition, and rehabilitation of low-income multi-family and single-family housing
  • A new $10 million investment in the Housing Trust Fund will build over 280 additional permanently affordable homes for homeless families with children, seniors, veterans, homeless youth, farmworkers, people with disabilities and more.


  • There is a great need for permanent affordable housing in every community in Washington State (share an example from your community).
  • The Point In Time Count in January 2015 counted 19,418 people experiencing homelessness that night, across the state. Over 7,100 of them were unsheltered, including families with children and unaccompanied youth. This is a 3% increase from 2014.

Housing costs are increasing across the state while take-home pay for those with the lowest incomes significantly declined from 2009:

Outlaw Discrimination Based on a Renter’s Source of Income

SB 5378 was heard before the Senate Human Services, Mental Health and Housing Committee on Thursday, January 21. 13 people testified in support, including a for-profit landlord and a fire-fighter injured on the job who is now a section 8 tenant. Many others signed in with support for the bill. The lively hearing went for over an hour and the committee members were very engaged. Be sure to take action today by calling the legislative hotline to urge your lawmakers to pass the bill. But if any of the below is your Senator, you have an especially strong opportunity to support the passage of this bill. Each Senator below is on the committee and their votes are critical. If you live in their district, please call them directly to urge them to quickly pass SB 5378 out of committee:

Senator Email Phone
O'Ban, Steve (R)
Committee Chair
28th LD (Lakewood, Tacoma) (360) 786-7654
Miloscia, Mark (R)
Vice Chair, bill sponsor
30th LD (Federal Way) (360) 786-7658
Darneille, Jeannie (D)
Ranking Minority Member
27th LD (Tacoma) (360) 786-7652
Hargrove, Jim (D)
24th LD (Clallum, Jefferson
and Grays Harbor Counties) (360) 786-7646
Padden, Mike (R)
4th LD (Spokane County) (360) 786-7606

Senator Nelson calls for $300 million to be allocated to the emergency of homelessness

Senator Sharon Nelson, 34th LD and Senate Democratic Leader, is calling on her colleagues in the legislature to respond to the emergency of homelessness by allocating $300 million from the state’s “rainy day fund” to the Housing Trust Fund, homelessness services, shelters, Hope Beds and more. Thursday on TVW’s Inside Olympia, Senator Nelson answered questions about her plan. She says, “I believe that we do have an emergency in this state. When you look across the state and see that we have close to 34,000 kids who are homeless, this is a crisis…. We can do better.” See the whole interview and hear what Senator Nelson says about the Housing Trust Fund and other 2016 legislative priorities (and if you attend Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day on February 2nd, you’ll hear from her yourself during the opening ceremony!):

Tight Budget Once Again

Everyone in Olympia was hoping for a ruling on Initiative 1366 sooner than later, so there was a strong sense of relief when on Thursday the King County Superior Court issued their ruling that 1366 is indeed unconstitutional. I-1366 is the Tim Eyman initiative that narrowly passed in November with 51% of the vote. If enacted, the legislature would have to either send a constitutional amendment to the people that would require a 2/3 super majority vote of the legislature to raise taxes or face an automatic decrease in the state sales tax. On April 15, 2016, the state retail sales tax rate would decrease from 6.5 percent to 5.5 percent resulting in a loss of over $8 billion dollars in general fund revenue over the next 6 fiscal years. This would put a $1.5 billion hole in the current budget and then cost the state $1.5 billion each fiscal year. Hence, the strong sense of relief that I-1366 appears to be heading to the dustbin. However, the case could now be sent for additional consideration by the State Supreme Court so the issue may not be finalized yet. 

Read more about the impact of this ruling from the Olympian

Despite the apparent relief from I-1366, the legislature is still in another tight budget year with very little room to address any emerging needs. Even an ask for a modest $3 million for the Consolidated Homelessness Grants is a tall order. But there is still an opportunity to remedy the cuts to homelessness services that are being implemented across the state.

Prevent cuts to homeless services

The Housing Alliance is calling on the legislature to allocate $3 million from the state’s general fund to backfill the cuts to the Consolidated Homeless Grant. The total shortfall is $7.5 million but there is an identified source for the balance, hence our ask of “$3 million in new dollars and $4.5 million in expenditure authority to the Department of Commerce”.

The Housing Alliance needs you to educate lawmakers on the impact of the $7.5 million shortfall. Please contact with examples of how the cuts are impacting your community. Stories that illustrate the impact of services funded by the State Consolidated Homeless Grants are also needed.

We hope to see you on February 2 for Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day!

The Housing Alliance’s annual lobby day is one of the best opportunities to educate lawmakers on what they can do the help end homelessness and expand opportunities for affordable housing. If you haven’t signed up already, we encourage you to register soon so you can take part in this exciting, effective and informative day of action. Check out the details here.

Progress on Fair Tenant Screening and Eviction Reporting

We are excited to share that, thanks to Senator Mark Mullet, 5th LD, that an agreement has been reached that will make progress on the Fair Tenant Screening Act and on how evictions are reported by tenant screening companies. SB 6413/Mullet and HB 2811/Walkinshaw will make important progress on both these issues, while in exchange allowing landlords to have an additional seven days in which to postmark the return of a deposit. The Housing Alliance strongly supports these bills and encourages lawmakers to vote yes. It is rare to find agreement in which all stakeholders feel that they’ve gained something and the compromise that Senator Mullet has brokered is long-awaited. It will have a significant, positive impact on the lives of Washington’s many tenant households.

Thank you for advocating for affordable housing and ending homelessness. The victories from 2015 and previous legislative sessions show that we can move mountains when we come together to advocate for change. And we can make more progress this session. Please take action today and stay tuned for more advocacy opportunities.

Meet Teresa!

Teresa Clark, Mobilization Specialist

Earlier this week I joined the staff of the Housing Alliance as Mobilization Specialist. As a Seattle-area native and long-time organizer, I am alarmed by the growing rates of homelessness, housing instability, and economic displacement in my region and statewide. I am energized by the opportunity to enter this work at such an urgent and exciting time.

I come to the Housing Alliance from the Washington Community Action Network, where I was most recently the Organizing Director, but have served in many capacities for the better part of 10 years. I'm excited to use my background in community organizing, coalition work, and leadership development to help advance the goals of the Housing Alliance. I especially hope to bring the intersectional perspective I have developed through working on many racial and economic justice issues to my work in housing. 

I have seen over and over as an organizer how strategically mobilizing a community of people can lead to big wins, and I'm honored to start the next chapter of my organizing career as part of the Housing Alliance team.

Stay tuned for more from me on the Housing Alliance's Board Advocacy Project, our Tookit to Combat the Stigma and Criminalization of Homelessness, plus important action alerts throughout the legislative session. I look forward to working together as a community of advocates this session and beyond!

2016 Supplemental Budget 1.0 – Our Analysis

The Housing Alliance Policy and Advocacy Team

Governor Jay Inslee introduced his 2016 Supplemental Budget Proposal on December 17, 2015. The release of the Governor’s budget signifies the beginning of the state’s supplemental budget development process and sets the tone for the upcoming legislative session. We are pleased to report that the Governor’s proposal protects vital homelessness safety net programs and makes a number of positive, targeted investments to expand access to affordable housing. 

Before delving into the budget details—here is a quick refresher of our state’s budget process. Washington’s budget operates on a two-year, biennial calendar. On odd years, such as 2015, the legislature passes a full biennial budget. On even years, like 2016, the legislature passes a smaller supplemental budget that amends the larger budget to reflect the changing needs within our state, such as natural disasters, caseload changes, and emerging issues in our economy and local communities.

The Governor’s Supplemental Operating Budget proposes $2.8 million in new housing services, and his Supplemental Capital Budget proposal includes $11.5 million in new affordable housing investments (scroll to bottom of post for details). In addition to housing investments, the Governor’s budget also appropriates new funding for our state’s mental health system and modest investments for other community needs.

Affordable housing, homelessness, and other important community programs were protected and received modest investments because the Governor opted to close four tax-loopholes to raise revenue. We applaud the Governor’s leadership in examining and closing tax-loopholes. We urge the legislature to build upon these loophole closures and raise additional new revenue so our state has adequate resources to ensure all people have access to safe, healthy, and affordable homes. Check out the Washington State Budget & Policy Center’s blog post for a more in-depth analysis of the tax-loophole closures in the Governor’s proposal.

The Governor took an important step forward by introducing a supplemental budget proposal that protects our homelessness safety net and makes a number of targeted investments to expand access to affordable housing. Thus, we encourage you contact Governor Inslee to thank him for his continued commitment to expanding access to safe, healthy, and affordable homes.   
Here’s how you can contact Governor Jay Inslee: 

Last of all, we hope you can join us in Olympia on February 2, 2016 for our annual Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day! This is a great opportunity to meet directly with your lawmakers during the legislative session and share why funding affordable housing and homeless programs is a priority for you. 

Governor’s Supplemental Budget Summary

Operating Budget Homelessness Safety Net Appropriations 

Governor Inslee’s Operating Budget proposal includes $2.8 million in new housing service investments and protects critical homelessness safety net programs. 

  • $2,800,000 is for supportive housing services and short-term rental assistance for people leaving or at risk of needing inpatient behavioral health services. Services will be delivered through four new housing and recovery services teams modeled after the Housing and Recovery Through Peer Services (HARPS) Program
  • Aged, Blind, and Disabled (ABD) Program is protected—no cuts and no additional investments were made. ABD helps permanently disabled adults and elderly immigrants meet their basic needs by providing modest cash assistance. 
  • Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) is protected—no cuts and no additional investments were made. HEN provides rental and utility assistance to adults with temporary disabilities while they are recovering. 
  • Medical Care Services (MCS) is protected—no cuts and no additional investments were made. MCS provides health coverage to people who receive financial support through the Aged, Blind, and Disabled program but are unable to receive Medicaid health coverage. 
  • SSI Facilitation Services are protected—no cuts and no additional investments were made. These services assist permanently disabled adults reach economic security by applying for federal SSI benefits. 
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is protected—no cuts and no additional investments were made. TANF helps low-income families with children meet their basic needs through a modest cash grant and services. 

Capital Budget Affordable Housing Appropriations

Governor Inslee’s Capital Budget proposal includes $11.5 million in new affordable housing investments. This allocation represents a significant percentage of the overall Capital Budget and includes the following appropriations:

  • $5,000,000 is for the Weatherization Matchmaker Program to help make low-income homes more energy efficient.
  • $2,500,000 is for the Housing Trust Fund Portfolio Preservation Program to preserve existing housing trust fund projects operated by local housing authorities and serving very low-income and homeless households. 
  • $1,500,000 is for rapid housing improvements to bring private market rental homes into compliance with established housing standards in order to improve access to housing for families using rental assistance programs. Property owners will be required to maintain the unit for housing choice voucher recipients for an appropriate period of time after repairs are completed. 
  • $1,275,000 is for a rapid housing acquisition demonstration to develop congregate small unit dwellings or convert single-family homes into multi-family homes. 
  • $1,000,000 is for the Housing Trust Fund to build affordable senior housing. 
  • $125,000 is to create a landlord mitigation fund available to landlords who have rented to tenants with housing choice vouchers and whose rental units are in a jurisdiction that prohibits denying tenancy based solely on the applicant's source of income. 
  • $100,000 is for a study of housing opportunities for veterans experiencing homelessness and the conversion of units to provide permanent supportive housing for geriatric veterans with psychiatric disorders.




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