Budget

Housing Advocacy in Action! Week of April 17

Michele Thomas, Director of Policy and Advocacy

Last week brought the final cutoff of the regular legislative session. By April 12, all bills had to clear the floor of the opposite house from which they originated. As often discussed in these blog posts, bills that are “NTIB”, necessary to implement the budget, are not subject to these cutoffs. House Bill 1570/Macri, the Bringing Washington Home Act, is considered NTIB and is still alive despite not moving off of the House floor yet.

The last week of the session will largely be consumed by floor action in the House and Senate mostly dealing with bills on their “concurrence” calendars. Concurrence is needed when a bill has been amended in the opposite house, after it already passed the floor of the chamber in which it originated. Since the bill is now different, the chamber that first passed it has to decide if they agree with the changes. If they do not, they send it back with a request to “recede from amendments.” Good bills die in this process, even after making it this far. There are about 50 bills left for the House to consider and about 40 in the Senate, with about 8 bills currently in dispute.

What’s next?

Just about everyone is wondering the same thing: When will the special session start and how much time it will take to reach agreement on the budget? The plan for how special session will be rolled out will likely be made public by the end of the week. The options include starting immediately on April 24, waiting some set period of time to allow for a break, or not starting at all until agreement has been reached. Regardless, special session will most likely mean that the bulk of lawmakers will return home, with only budget negotiators staying in Olympia.

The Silver Lining

The good news about special session is that it offers real, in-district opportunities for advocacy to move lawmakers on key issues that are unfinished. In addition to the budgets, there is House Bill 1570/Macri and the House revenue proposal (House Bill 2186/Lytton) will also be on the table. This means that we all have been given more time to educate our lawmakers on the importance of these bills. Lawmakers have been hearing about 1570 all session, but now that they will be home, we can ensure that they see first-hand the good that the Homeless Housing and Assistance Surcharge does in their community! The Housing Alliance will be securing a date soon for a webinar on in-district special session advocacy. Watch for an announcement soon!

You are invited to a special call on House Bill 2186 - the House revenue package!

Want to learn more about what is in the House revenue package and how you can support it? Join the Housing Alliance for a special call on Wednesday, April 19 from 8:30 AM - 9:30 AM. We will be joined by Representative Noel Frame/36 LD who is the vice chair of the House Finance Committee. And Andy Nicholas from the Washington State Budget & Policy Center will also join us. Both will help us understand the tax proposal and how it both brings in much-needed new revenue while also fixing our regressive tax system. We will also discuss what affordable housing and homelessness advocates can do to help ensure that the bill passes. Register here for the phone number and to pre-submit any questions for Andy and Representative Frame.

Thanks for the many actions you’ve taken this session. Please help us wrap up this session with a bang and take action today! We will post one last blog next week to wrap up the regular session, but will provide updates during the special session when things are happening.

Lastly, don’t forget about the April 25 early bird registration deadline for the Conference on Ending Homelessness. The Conference is scheduled for May 10th and 11th in Tacoma. Click here for all the information. Note that Washington State Supreme Court Justice Mary Yu is one of our keynotes! She is incredible and you won’t want to miss her!

- Michele

Housing Advocacy in Action! Week of April 10

Michele Thomas, Director of Policy and Advocacy 

 

The end of the regular legislative session, April 23, is rapidly approaching. It has been a long time coming, but as discussed last week, the Operating Budget in particular is one item that's not likely to be resolved soon. The budget bills and any other bills deemed “NTIB” – necessary to implement the budget, might need a special session or two to reach final agreement.

The last two weeks of this regular session is expected to be a flurry of action to pass the many bills that are subject to the normal cutoff dates. This Wednesday, April 12 is the floor cutoff for bills that have made it all the way over from the opposite chamber and through the opposite house committees. They need to be voted on by the full Senate or House by 5:00 PM on the 12th in order to continue to proceed in the process. The Legislative website offers more detailed information on the legislative process. If you are following a particular bill this session, you might be interested in reading the information about concurrent, dispute, or conference committees. It is surprising, but not uncommon, for bills to die even after being voted off of both floors due to mismatching amendments that cannot be resolved before the last day of session.

Revenue

Last week started with an early Monday morning hearing (April 3) on the House revenue package. The Housing Alliance was proud to sign in pro along with about 30 of our members. Many nonprofits across the state have been doing deep organizing work to move their organizations – including their staff, boards, members, and donors – to a position of full support for a fair, progressive tax system. The many, many nonprofits who took the proactive step to sign in pro on HB 2186/Lytton (D, 40th LD) on Monday signifies this work. This is an important milestone. If this bill was introduced five or so years ago, it would not have been able to garner this depth of support, but due to the work of so many people and organizations across the state, 84 testified pro Monday (vs. 36 con), and another 83 signed in pro (vs. 25 con). Good work! But lawmakers still need to hear more from their constituents about this bill. Some fear political reprisals for a yes vote, so House lawmakers need to hear loud and clear that you support this progressive tax package that shifts the overall cost towards wealthy households, and away from the low- and middle-income households in our state that are currently paying a disproportionate amount of their incomes on taxes compared to the rich.

The Capital Budget(s)

Another big development last week was the release of the House Capital Budget on Wednesday (April 5). It was subsequently heard early on Thursday morning (kudos to the House Capital Budget Committee for being the first in years to give the public more than 3 hours with the budget bill before public testimony). The Housing Alliance and six of our member organizations testified pro because the House Capital Budget invests a bit deeper in affordable housing than the Senate’s budget. Check out the great testimony here and here, and much thanks to everyone who came to Olympia so early to testify!

From left to right: Liz Mills, YWCA Seattle, King & Snohomish Counties; Jessa Lewis, Tenants Union of Washington State; Philippa Nye, Ally Community Development; Mallory Hagel, volunteer with OPAL Community Landtrust and Kirk McClain, with the Housing Alliance’s Emerging Advocate’s Program and Capitol Hill Housing.

The House Capital Budget proposes $106.37 million for affordable housing, while the Senate budget proposes $99 million. The good news is that since the budgets are not too far apart in this area, ending with the $106 million high water mark shouldn’t be unrealistic. But there are two significant factors to consider. One is that the total House budget proposal is significantly bigger than the Senate’s (by over $155 million). This could mean that negotiations with the Senate result in a smaller final budget. The second is that the House’s proposal is very far from the housing community’s biennial ask of $200 million for the Housing Trust Fund. While this is disappointing, there is still an opportunity to make up for some of this gap in the 2018 supplemental budget. But remember, the supplemental budget is always smaller than the original, so the bulk of our $200 million ask needed to be in the 2017 budget. Despite the disappointing House proposal, it is clear that we now have to unify and work hard to ensure that the final budget ends no lower than the House’s $106 million, and then we will work to get the deepest supplemental investment possible in 2018. And we also need to push to hold on to a big bright spot in the House budget, that wasn’t in the Senate’s: the $39 million for a competitive pool for general affordable housing and homelessness investments. We don’t want that lost during the budget negotiations.

Additional points of comparison between the two Capital Budget proposals:

  • Both budgets have similar language that allows the Department of Commerce to use funds allotted to categories for “other low-income and special needs populations” if there are not “adequate suitable projects in a category”. This ensures flexibility and that no money will be left on the table if a specified category doesn’t have enough projects submitted.
  • The House budget has more in project earmarks: $10.09 million vs. $8.4 million in the Senate budget. Each budget has different projects earmarked. The Housing Alliance does not support project earmarks, instead we advocate for a bigger overall competitive appropriation for affordable housing.
  • The Senate budget includes a $6 million set-aside for tiny “homes” projects in Shelton and Orting that is not included in the House budget. Instead the House has a bucket valued at $2.795 M that is for tiny “homes”, but aimed at a chronically homeless population, and without the specific geographic requirement. Click here to access the House and Senate budget bills, as well as summaries of each bill that are prepared by legislative staff. The Leap website also has other helpful information, I encourage you to poke around!

Washington Housing Opportunities Act, HB 1570/Macri!

One of the most important bills of the session might not be resolved before the end of regular session on April 23. HB 1570/Macri is NTIB (as covered in previous posts) and is still in a position to be enacted this year. But the lines between the House and Senate have clearly been drawn. Between the stark differences in the Operating Budget Proposals by each chamber, and the many good housing and homelessness bills that have been killed by Senate leadership this session, it is absolutely clear that housing and homelessness issues will be serious points of contention during special session negotiations. Representative Ormsby (D, 3rd LD) and chair of the House Appropriations Committee discussed the differences in the budgets on last week’s episode of Inside Olympia. The show starts with an interview with the Senate Budget writer, Senator Braun (R, 20th LD). It is a particularly interesting episode of the weekly show, especially regarding the political and philosophical differences between the House and Senate majority parties that the episode highlights.

Lawmakers need to hear from you!

Stay tuned to the Housing Alliance’s social media for breaking news, and we will continue to keep you updated during these last weeks. Most importantly, please help us ensure that lawmakers continue to hear from constituents about affordable housing and homelessness issues. Your advocacy has been great, but we need to push through together because the legislature is not yet responding to affordable housing and homelessness as if it is a crisis. It is, and we need you to help raise the urgency. Even if you called your lawmaker last week, please do it again. If you haven’t called them recently, please do so today. You can leave one message for all of your lawmakers through the state’s toll free legislative hotline: 1-800-562-6000. It is open Monday – Friday from 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM. Click here for talking points and to sign our pledge to make the call!

Ask a Lobbyist!

I recently was asked two related questions that are timely given that the end of session is so near, yet final agreement on the budgets any time soon is unlikely.

Question 1: If the legislature knows that it will not be able to finish their budget within the timeframe of the session, why don’t they just agree to change the timeframe instead of going through the drama of declaring special sessions?

Question 2: It seems like lawmakers in Olympia rarely finish the budget by their deadline and always need to go into overtime. Wouldn’t it be better if we switched to a full time legislature, instead of holding them to unworkable deadlines?

The timeframes under which the legislature can be convened are determined by the state constitution, which caps the length of the regular session during an odd-numbered year to 105, and to 60 days on even-numbered years. The same section of the constitution (article 2, section 12) outlines the rules for calling a special session. Here is the language:

(1) Regular Sessions. A regular session of the legislature shall be convened each year. Regular sessions shall convene on such day and at such time as the legislature shall determine by statute. During each odd-numbered year, the regular session shall not be more than one hundred five consecutive days. During each even-numbered year, the regular session shall not be more than sixty consecutive days.

(2) Special Legislative Sessions. Special legislative sessions may be convened for a period of not more than thirty consecutive days by proclamation of the governor pursuant to Article III, section 7 of this Constitution. Special legislative sessions may also be convened for a period of not more than thirty consecutive days by resolution of the legislature upon the affirmative vote in each house of two-thirds of the members elected or appointed thereto, which vote may be taken and resolution executed either while the legislature is in session or during any interim between sessions in accordance with such procedures as the legislature may provide by law or resolution. The resolution convening the legislature shall specify a purpose or purposes for the convening of a special session, and any special session convened by the resolution shall consider only measures germane to the purpose or purposes expressed in the resolution, unless by resolution adopted during the session upon the affirmative vote in each house of two-thirds of the members elected or appointed thereto, an additional purpose or purposes are expressed. The specification of purpose by the governor pursuant to Article III, section 7 of this Constitution shall be considered by the legislature but shall not be mandatory.

(3) Committees of the Legislature. Standing and special committees of the legislature shall meet and conduct official business pursuant to such rules as the legislature may adopt.

Regarding the question about whether it would be better to have the legislature convened full-time… it wouldn’t address the problem of when the legislature is able to reach agreement on a final budget. The state budgets are biennial and expire after two years. Regardless of how long the legislature is allowed to convene, lawmakers still need to get the Operating Budget done before the current one expires. In this case, agreement must be met by June 30 2017.

Feel free to submit your questions about the legislative process by emailing reinyc@wliha.org.

Lastly, the annual Conference on Ending Homelessness is almost here! Join us May 10 and 11 in Tacoma for two action-packed days of learning, networking, self-care, and movement building. The early bird registration rates expire on April 25 – sign up soon, and also be sure to reserve your hotel room before they fill up. Learn more about the conference here.

Thanks for your partnership in advocacy,

Best,

Michele

Housing Advocacy in Action! Week of April 3

Michele Thomas, Director of Policy and Advocacy

Last week was very busy in Olympia with the release of two new budget bills and another cutoff. With Sine Die (the last day of the regular session) rapidly approaching on April 23, the pace in Olympia won’t slow down any time soon. The budgets introduced last week included much better news for affordable housing and homelessness than the Senate’s Operating Budget (which was released the prior week and was detailed in last week’s blog post). The House Operating Budget was a net positive for affordable housing and homelessness, and the Senate’s Capital Budget proposal came in much higher than normal for the Housing Trust Fund ($96.572 million). Once the House releases their Capital Budget bill on Wednesday, all budget proposals will be out.

It is unclear if budget negotiations are already underway between the House and the Senate, but regardless it is not expected that compromise will be reached before April 23rd. The Housing Alliance is pushing for the adoption of the House Operating Budget and for both chambers to get much closer to our Housing Trust Fund ask of $200 million for this biennium.

Here is a comparison of the House and Senate Operating Budgets on key affordable housing and homelessness issues:

Housing and Essential Needs (HEN)
What is it? HEN provides rental assistance and access to basic sanitary items for extremely low-income, temporarily disabled adults.
Senate Budget: The original budget proposal completely eliminated all funding for HEN, but it was amended to include $10 million for the program. This amounts to a cut of over 80%.
House Budget: Fully funds the program, plus creates a new transportation stipend. Beginning in July 2018, $10 per month is provided to cover the cost of travel expenses for Housing and Essential Needs recipients.

Aged, Blind, and Disabled (ABD) cash assistance
What is it? ABD provides cash assistance (currently $197) for extremely low-income, permanently disabled adults, and SSI facilitation services to assist in obtaining federal benefits.
Senate Budget: Per SB 5898/Braun, the Senate’s budget assumes savings from a new 35-month time limit for receiving the ABD cash grant, which would terminate the benefit for approximately 2,400 individuals.
House Budget: The House budget fully funds the program and also increases the monthly cash grant beginning in July 2018, from $197 per month to $227 per month.

Medicaid Transformation Demonstration
What is it? Washington has finalized an agreement with the federal government for a five-year demonstration that allows innovative uses of Medicaid dollars to improve health, provide better care, and lower costs. Under the demonstration, the state will receive up to $1.5 billion in federal investments. The demonstration includes investments in Permanent Supportive Housing Services impacting the health and well being of people with disabilities experiencing long-term homelessness.
Senate Budget: Suspends the state’s ability to move forward with the demonstration and rejects $1.5 billion federal dollars to serve the health needs of low-income Medicaid recipients.
House Budget: Provides budget authority for the state to move forward with the demonstration and accept the federal funds.

Young Adult Housing and Shelter
What is it? The Young Adult Shelter program provides Emergency, temporary shelter, assessment, referrals, and permanency planning services for young adults ages 18 through 24, and the Young Adult Housing Program provides rental assistance.
Senate Budget: Eliminates all funding.
House Budget: Fully funds.

Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)
What is it? TANF provides modest cash assistance to extremely low-income adults with dependent children.
Senate Budget: Eliminates approximately $96 million from the TANF program, plus over $44 million from the Working Connections Childcare Program.
House Budget: Adds over $12 million to increase the cash grant by 8% starting in July 2018 (for example, a grant for a family of 4 is raised from $613 to $662). This budget section also increases the grants for State Family Assistance and Refugee Cash Assistance by 8%.

The House Operating Budget also adds other additional funds:

  • Funds are added to account for HB 1831/Pettigrew, which raises the asset limit caps that applicants to TANF, HEN, and ABD can have in order to qualify for the programs. The bill allows for a higher maximum value of a vehicle, and for a person to have slightly higher amounts of “liquidable cash” including in their kids’ savings accounts, a burial plot, 401Ks, etc.
  • Funds are added from the General Fund to provide new rental assistance resources for homeless families ($1 million) and for funding for permanent supportive housing services ($6 million).
  • Funds are added to assist youth exiting state institutions to find housing ($3 million from the General Fund, plus an additional $1 million from the Home Security Fund).

The House Revenue Package

The House’s budget proposal meets the McCleary mandate to invest new dollars in k-12 education without cutting human services or other important functions of state government. They are able to do this because they have also introduced a revenue package that would generate over $2.8 billion dollars this biennium. HB 2186 by Representative Lytton (D, 40th LD) was heard in the House Appropriations Committee on Monday morning (April 3). Over 120 people signed in to testify on the bill, the majority in support. The Housing Alliance signed in pro and believes that this tax package is fair, smart, and responsible. Interestingly, many people and businesses across the state would actually experience a tax reduction. Here are resources to learn more about the package:

House Democrats overview of the package

House Bill 2186 bill page

Washington Budget and Policy Center (overview of House revenue package and also Senate revenue proposal)
 

What to expect next

The last budget to be released is the House Capital Budget. The House Capital Budget Committee has said that it will release its budget proposal on Wednesday, April 5 and will hold a hearing on it at 8:00 am on Thursday, April 6. The Senate budget set funding for the Housing Trust Fund at $96.572 million, and added an additional earmark for an affordable housing project to bring the overall affordable housing investment to $99 million. We hope that the House will come much closer to our biennial ask of $200 million. We need to get as close as possible in order for the 2018 supplemental Capital Budget appropriation to be able to feasibly close the gap to end the biennium with $200 million. The Housing Alliance testified last week on the Senate’s Capital Budget with thanks for the historically high starting point, but we noted that it was still far from our total ask. You can watch our testimony here. Keep watching for the next panel of three stellar advocates who also testified from Plymouth Housing, the YWCA of Seattle, King and Snohomish, and from the Tacoma Pierce County Affordable Housing Consortium.

Tuesday the 4th marks the next cutoff – all bills must clear the opposite chamber’s fiscal committee in order to keep moving (unless of course it has that special “NTIB – Necessary to Implement the Budget” status which exempts it from cutoffs). And then next week, April 12, brings the big floor cutoff. All bills must clear the opposite floor by that date in order to keep on moving towards the governor’s signature.

Keep connected to the Housing Alliance emails and social media for breaking news over the next couple of weeks. As things heat up and move more quickly in these final weeks, big decisions will likely be made. We will continue to keep you informed. The next advocate’s call is scheduled for Friday, April 14 at 11:00am. We provide detailed updates in this hour-long call for all affordable housing and homelessness advocates. Just email Reiny for the call in number and code: reinyc@wliha.org.

Lastly, we had no new submissions for our “Ask a Lobbyist” column this week. But if you have a question you’d like to ask about the legislative process, about lobbying in Olympia or about the politics impacting affordable housing and homelessness… ask away! We’d love to answer your questions. Just submit your question (and note we will keep your identity anonymous) to Reiny at reinyc@wliha.org.

Best,

Michele

Housing Advocacy in Action! Week of March 27

Michele Thomas, Director of Policy and Advocacy

 

Senate Budget

The Senate introduced their Operating Budget last Tuesday (March 21st) mid morning, and then conducted the committee hearing on it just hours later. The Housing Alliance testified con (you can watch testimony here). The budget proposal from the Senate Republicans completely eliminated the Housing and Essential Needs program, suspended the state from accepting $1.5 billion federal dollars for Medicaid innovation (including approximately $200 million for Permanent Supportive Housing services), it earmarked over $30 million of existing homelessness funds for programs that used to be funded out of the general fund, and assumed savings from a proposed new time limit on the Aged, Blind, and Disabled program. It also eliminated funding for the homeless student stability act, for young adult shelter and for young adult housing programs. Funds were swept from TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) for other programs and new requirements were put on the extremely low-income families who apply for TANF benefits. The budget was an attack on homelessness and anti-poverty programs, which was especially troubling given the recent Trump budget release which also proposed extremely deep cuts to affordable housing, homelessness, and human services.

Despite this grim budget proposal, the good news is that it caused an uproar from advocates and from housing champions in the Senate. The uproar led to an amendment in the Ways & Means Committee by Senator Miloscia (R, 30th LD) which restored $10 million in funding for the Housing and Essential Needs Program. This still amounts to a cut of over 80% to this critical safety net program, which provides rental assistance to temporarily disabled, extremely low-income adults. More than forty additional amendments were offered by Democratic members of the Ways & Means Committee. The amendments offered would have restored funding to the safety net. Almost all were rejected, with the partial restoration of HEN by Senator Miloscia being the shining anomaly. The bill was voted out of committee with all Republicans voting yes, minus Senator Miloscia who voted no with every Democratic member. The bill was then sent to the Senate Floor.

Next, the Senate as a whole considered the bill on Thursday night. After hours of deliberation the bill was voted out of the chamber on a party line vote. Again, Democrats offered many amendments to restore the safety net. One by Senator Nelson (D, 34th LD) to restore funding for the Homeless Student Stability Act was adopted. The amendment restores $2 million in funding from the General Fund to this program, which addresses the needs of homeless public school students and their families. This amendment came at a time when homelessness is rising among public school kids in our state. In the last school year, the state identified over 39,000 students as experiencing homelessness. This recent article by the Kitsap Daily News highlights the importance of the homeless student stability act.

Please thank the following Senators for standing up for affordable housing and homelessness programs:

Senator Darneille (D, 27th LD), author of several committee and floor amendments to restore funding for HEN, ABD, TANF and homeless youth.
Jeannie.Darneille@leg.wa.gov
(360) 786-7652

Senator Nelson (D, 34th LD) for restoring funding for the Homeless Student Stability Act.
Sharon.Nelson@leg.wa.gov
(360) 786-7667

Senator Billig (D, 3rd LD) for introducing amendments to restore funding to Working Connections Childcare for TANF families.
Andy.Billig@leg.wa.gov
(360) 786-7604

Senator Frockt (D, 46th LD) for introducing an amendment to fund higher ed grants from a source other than TANF.
David.Frockt@leg.wa.gov
(360) 786-7690

Senator Miloscia (R, 30th LD) for introducing a successful amendment to partially restore funding for the Housing and Essential Needs program.
Mark.Miloscia@leg.wa.gov
(360) 786-7658


What's next:

The House is set to release their Operating Budget proposal (SHB 1067) on Monday afternoon (March 27th) and hear it a little later the same day. The Housing Alliance will be testifying to weigh in on how key budget priorities are treated, including HEN, ABD (Aged Blind and Disabled) and the Medicaid Innovation Demonstration. Next the Senate will introduce their Capital Budget, most likely on Tuesday (March 28th). The Capital Budget funds the Housing Trust Fund so we are eagerly waiting its release. The House is expected to release their Capital Budget in the week of April 3rd.


More on the safety net programs under attack: Housing & Essential Needs (HEN) and the Aged, Blind, and Disabled Program (ABD).

These programs comprise the heart of what is often referred to as “disability lifeline”, assisting disabled and extremely low-income adults. As Senator Darneille, 27th LD, said on the Senate floor on Thursday night, “every one of us needs a helping hand at some point in our lives.” Housing and Essential Needs provides rental assistance and access to an essential needs bank where people can get basic sanitary items. The Aged, Blind, and Disabled (ABD) program provides a cash grant of up to $197 per month. People cannot be on both programs at the same time and DSHS determines which program they are eligible for. If someone is deemed to have a permanent disability and likely to qualify for federal social security benefits, they are offered ABD. If someone moves from HEN to ABD because their disability status changed, they often face homelessness because of the loss of the housing assistance. This is just one problem with these safety net programs that needs to be fixed, but instead we often find ourselves fighting for the very preservation of the programs themselves because of attacks on them.

The Senate’s budget adds a new time limit on ABD, which would terminate benefits for approximately 2,395 people in the first month the time limit is implemented. On Thursday night, the Senate also passed a corresponding bill, SB 5898, to implement this change in statute and to implement other harmful changes to TANF and to Working Connections Childcare. The Housing Alliance testified con on the bill in committee. To learn more about these safety net programs, check out this excellent work session from Friday. The Housing Alliance’s Kate Baber organized the work session, which was requested by Representative Kagi (D, 32nd LD), chair of the House Early Learning & Human Services Committee. The work session provides an overview of HEN, ABD, and TANF and features Housing Alliance 2015 Advocate of the Year, Kirk McClain. Kirk shares his story of homelessness and how HEN helped him by providing a path into housing (Kirk’s part starts at about 52 minutes in, followed by Kate who discusses the implications of the Senate’s budget proposal).


New Bills Introduced

In addition to the budget and the associated budget bills, a couple of other important bills were also introduced last week. SB 5911 by Senator Nelson (D, 34th) would invest $60 million into homelessness services, including HEN rental assistance, $95 million into the Housing Trust Fund for housing for people experiencing homelessness, and $5 million for the Operations and Maintenance of affordable housing. The bill is strategically tied to a strategy in the Senate’s budget that uses “rainy day” funds to cover a specific item in their budget ($700 million needed for a public employee retirement plan). A 60% vote is required to transfer money from the rainy day which means that Democratic votes will be required to pass this central component to the Republican’s budget bill. The bill was referred to Ways and Means.

SB 5903, the “housing for all act” was introduced by Senator Darneille (D, 27th LD). Key elements of the bill include the elimination of the sunset on the Homeless Housing and Assistance surcharge and an increase of $50. It would also make the Housing and Essential Needs program an entitlement and double the ABD cash grant for the biennium. The bill creates a new local sales tax option for chemical dependency, mental health, and housing services for people experiencing homelessness. The bill was referred to the Senate Human Services, Mental Health and Housing Committee.
 

Ask a lobbyist!

This week’s question is “What is the difference between the Washington Housing Trust Fund and the Washington Housing Trust Account?”

This is a timely question given that the legislative budget proposals are now rolling out. The Washington Housing Trust Account is a budget account for the Department of Commerce that is legally set up to accept funds for certain purposes, including for the Housing Trust Fund and for administration of the Housing Trust Fund program. Loans for affordable housing development that are paid off also go into this account. The Housing Trust Fund is a program created in law that is subject to appropriations from the Capital Budget. Each year, the Housing Alliance advocates for new investments into the Housing Trust Fund to expand the state’s supply of affordable housing.

The Department of Commerce has several different accounts under its authority that are used for certain purposes. One of the things that make the Operating Budget bills difficult to read is that there is often a lot of fund transfers from one account to another, making the overall impact on affordable housing and homelessness difficult to discern. The main accounts we watch are the Housing Trust Account, the Home Security Fund and the Affordable Housing for All account. Again, the Housing Trust Account holds funds for purposes related to the Housing Trust Fund program. The Home Security Fund is where the money from the Homeless Housing and Assistance surcharge goes, and the Affordable Housing for All account receives funds from the original $10 document recording fee, often referred to as “2060” reflecting the bill number which created the account and the program back in 2002. These funds generated by the 2060 surcharge can be used to provide housing and shelter and operations and maintenance for affordable housing programs serving extremely low-income people and related programs. Commerce accounts are often raided by the legislature for earmarks for specific programs, which has particularly impeded the ability of Commerce to provide operations and maintenance support over the years.

 

 

Housing Advocacy in Action!

Michele Thomas, Director of Policy and Advocacy

Welcome to the first “Housing Advocates in Action” update of the 2017 legislative session! Watch for an email in your inbox, and a full blog post here every week or so. This update will serve as a “what’s happening” in Olympia with housing and homelessness policy, and will include the best ways for you to TAKE ACTION and be a housing advocate. In the past these have been weekly emails, but with so much happening in Olympia, we didn’t want to constrain ourselves to a strict timeline. These are great emails to send to your colleagues, board members, and family who share your passion for ending homelessness and expanding affordable housing opportunities. So, bookmark our blog, and watch for our emails so you’re always in the know!

For this first post, on the week of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I'd like to start with a quote:

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr
London, December 7th, 1964
For the full speech, listen to Democracy Now 1-16-17

“The other myth that gets around a great deal in our nation and I’m sure in other nations of the world, is the idea that you can’t solve the problems in the realm of human relations with legislation, that you can’t solve the housing problem, the job problem, and all of these other problems with legislation, that you’ve got to change the heart. We had a presidential candidate just recently who spoke about this a great deal. Mr. Goldwater sincerely believed that you couldn’t do anything though legislation because he voted against everything in the Senate, including the civil rights bill. And he said all over the nation throughout the election that you don’t need legislation, that legislation can’t deal with this problem, that you’ve got to change the heart. I want to go half way with brother Goldwater because I think he is right. You’ve got to change the heart. You must change your heart where there are prejudices. If we are going to solve the problem of mankind, every white person must look in their heart and look deep down within to challenge prejudice that may be there and believe that every negro and every colored person must be treated right… but after saying all of that I must go on to the other side and this is where I must leave Mr. Goldwater and others who believe you can’t solve this with legislation… it may be true that you can’t legislate integration, but you can legislate desegregation, it may be true that morality can’t be legislated, but behavior can be regulated, it may be true that the law can’t change the heart, but it can restrain the hardness. It may not be able to make people love me, but it can prevent people from lynching me and I think that is pretty important also.”
 

Housing Alliance advocates traveled to Olympia to educate lawmakers on the House Community Development, Housing & Tribal Affairs Committee about the importance of the Document Recording Fees in their local efforts to prevent and end homelessness. Special thanks to Kay, Rhonda, Tess and Mary Jane for their extremely informative presentations.

Pictured here: Kay Murano, Executive Director, Spokane Low Income Housing Consortium, Rhonda Hauff, Chief Operating Officer/Deputy CEO, Yakima Neighborhood Health Services, Tess Colby, Manager, Pierce County Community Connections, Mary Jane Brell-Vujovic, Director, Snohomish County Human Services Department

The Housing Alliance team hit the ground running when the legislative session started on Monday, January 9th. With two work sessions on affordable housing and homelessness, four budget hearings, and many lawmaker meetings, it was a very busy first week. But every week during the session is likely to be equally as busy, especially since our movement has done an excellent job of raising affordable housing and homelessness to the forefront of legislative priorities for many lawmakers.

With expectations low, we strive even higher.

The legislature, as in years past, is divided with the House controlled by the Democrats and the Senate controlled by the Republicans. Many are already predicting that this session, which is scheduled to end on Sunday April 23rd, will be prolonged until the day before a state budget must be signed – June 30th. Technically, the legislature’s sole job is to pass a budget for the next two fiscal years, which begins on July 1, 2017. If a budget isn’t passed by then, the state government will shut down. That is an unlikely scenario and expectations are that, although it may take a while, agreement on a new budget will be reached. The question is, what will be in the final budget and will it invest in affordable housing and homelessness?

The Governor invested deeply in affordable housing and homelessness – but even his budget left room for improvement. Important highlights include:

  • Doubling of the ABD (Aged, Blind, and Disabled) cash grant from $197 to $400. This cash grant helps extremely low-income, disabled adults meet their basic needs while they are applying for SSI. $400 puts the program on par with the average HEN (Housing and Essential Needs) rental assistance, thereby helping to prevent people from becoming homeless when they are transferred to the ABD program. This transfer, per state law, happens once someone is determined to have a permanent disability and the very low $197 per month is not enough to cover the loss of the HEN rental assistance.
  • $20 Million dollars for the Home Security Fund to increase resources to prevent and end homelessness. The Governor’s budget would put new money from the state general fund into the Home Security Fund, allowing the state to send out more money to local communities for homelessness services. This is the same account (The Home Security Fund) that document recording fee revenue is deposited in and would fund the same kinds of critical services including domestic violence shelters, homeless youth programs, permanent supportive housing services, rental assistance, and more.
  • $116.5 Million for affordable housing development, plus $28 Million for weatherization of low-income single-family homes. The Governor’s Capital Budget proposes a total of $116.5 million for affordable housing, including $88.8 million for the Housing Trust Fund and $10 million for the preservation of currently affordable housing that is aging. These investments are good starting point, but we are urging that the legislature to get much closer to our ask of $200 million dollars between the next two budget years (the biennium). $200 million for the Housing Trust Fund would create over 5,700 new, affordable homes while also creating 9,000 local jobs and over $655 million in local income.

In contentious times, we need to stay on course with a clear focus on the top affordable housing and homelessness priorities. As in years past, persistent, loud, and righteous advocacy can move mountains in our state. In the face of a Donald Trump becoming our nation’s president and his cabinet of Wall Street, far-right extremists, it is more important than ever that our state stands up for and invests in the needs of our lowest-income neighbors. While the Housing Alliance will be leading on the top affordable housing and homelessness priorities, we will also be supporting efforts to protect immigrants, protect voting rights, protect the rights of LGBTQ communities, especially our transgender neighbors whose non-discrimination protections are under attack, and of people of color. All of these communities, and more, are being targeted, and the Housing Alliance will stand with our allies against hate and discrimination. 

Affordable housing and homelessness top priorities

Expect to see new bills filed this week that will,

  • Secure and preserve funding for homelessness services: Eliminate the sunset on the document recording fees, increase the fee and fix the 45% mandated use on just on purpose – private, for-profit rental vouchers.
  • Outlaw discrimination based on a renter’s source of income: Everyone should have an equal opportunity to compete for housing, yet many landlords categorically deny applications by people relying on lawful sources of income to help pay their rent. Discrimination based on the use of a Section 8 voucher or SSI income has a profound impact on low-income households, many who have waited years for their housing assistance. It has disparate impacts on people already at high risk of discrimination based on race, disability, family status, age, or status as a veteran because all these households experience disproportionately high incidences of poverty. Local jurisdictions in our state have passed or enhanced source of income protections for renters, including most recently Vancouver, Seattle, and Renton, but this discrimination should be outlawed to ensure all of Washington’s tenants are protected.

Exciting developments last week for the Medicaid Demonstration Transformation (aka the “1115 waiver for Permanent Supportive Housing):

The Health Care Authority (HCA) announced on January 9 that the federal Centers on Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approved Washington's Medicaid Transformation Demonstration, also known as Washington's 1115 waiver. This includes the new supportive housing services Medicaid benefit that the Housing Alliance has been advocating for over the past several years. CMS has approved high-level “special terms and conditions”, and now the HCA will work to finalize the benefit design and implementation timeline. DSHS is hosting a webinar to provide updates to stakeholders on January 26 at 8:30 AM; you can register for the webinar here.

A couple of messaging notes for advocates--the state will now be referring to the 1115 waiver as the "Medicaid Demonstration Transformation." The benefits within initiative three, which includes the supportive housing benefit, will be referred to as "Community Transition Support Services."

Lastly, here's a link to the state's official announcement.

Affordable Housing and Homelessness are top legislative priorities

Despite the grim state budget fights that lie ahead and the many scary impacts of a Trump administration, our movement has pushed affordable housing and homelessness to the forefront of Olympia’s agenda. In these otherwise uncertain times, this means we have a very strong foundation to build off of and that means that we can still secure significant wins this session. But wins will require advocacy and determination, so let’s start of this week with a bang. Please take action today and tell your lawmakers to support at $200 Million investment in the Housing Trust Fund, and to eliminate the sunset on Document Recording Fees and raise the fee.

Housing and Homelessness Advocacy day is a fun, uplifting and impactful day of action. And we need you!

On February 2 in Olympia, over 600 advocates from nearly every district in the state will put on their red scarves and converge on the capitol for meetings with legislators, a rally on the capitol steps (one of the biggest of the year!), as well as attend workshops on important issues and advocacy skills, inspiring words from some of our legislator champions, and more. This day helps to show the depth, breadth and passion of the affordable housing and homelessness movement. And it helps move lawmakers on our key legislative priorities. Register today!

Another way to help make Advocacy Day a success is as a volunteer. Volunteers for a variety of roles are still needed, from registering attendees in the morning, to leading meetings with your district's lawmakers (this role is especially crucial - if you've been to Advocacy Day before, please consider taking it on). Sign up to volunteer here.

If you have questions about Advocacy Day, contact Alouise at the Housing AlIiance. I hope to see you on February 2!

Help us educate lawmakers with stories from people impacted by homelessness, discrimination or housing insecurity.

The Housing Alliance is in the process of creating a one-page document for each legislative district in the state that will include data about housing and homelessness, and a personal story of someone who’s life is better because they have a safe, affordable home. The stories are approximately 250 words with a picture. Because session has already started, we need these stories as soon as possible for our lawmaker meetings!

We need storytellers for the following legislative districts: 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 25, 26, 28, 30, 31, 34, 39, 43, 44, 46.

If you have a story to share, or if you know someone who does, please email dimitrig@wliha.org and he can coordinate with you!

Do you want to testify this session? We can help!

Testifying on a bill can be an empowering experience that helps to educate lawmakers on the need to pass a bill or to invest in a program. Especially if you have a personal experience with an issue, your story can profoundly impact where a lawmaker stands. Let us know if you are interested in learning more or if you are already planning on coming down to testify. Fill out this simple survey and we will be in touch! 

Again, with expectations low for this session, we strive even higher. Together, we will continue our track-record of making significant gains for affordable housing and homelessness. But your advocacy is needed more than ever – please join us in being bold, loud and persistent.

Advocacy Calls

Starting January 20th, join us every-other-Friday at 11am for a conference call detailing the very latest on housing and homelessness priorities in Olympia. These calls will cover progress of important bills and advocacy opportunities, and you don't have to be a policy expert to follow what's happening. Calls will be held on 1/20, 2/3, 2/17, 3/3, 3/17, 3/31, and 4/14. Anyone can join, just email reinyc@wliha.org for your call in code.  

- Michele and the Housing Alliance team.

P.S. Join the Housing Alliance on Saturday, January 21st for the Seattle Womxn’s March.

When: Sat. Jan 21
Meeting time: 10:00am
Meeting location: West entrance of Judkins Park near 20th & S. Charles St.

10:00am Arrive & find group - look for Housing Alliance banner and red scarves
10:30am Rally/speakers begin
11:00am March begins

End Location: Seattle Center, 400 Broad St, Seattle 98109
Route Length: 3.6 miles

 

Sine Die part 2 - A Disappointing Budget

Housing Alliance Public Policy Team

Lawmakers gavelled an end to the 2016 Legislative Session late on Tuesday (3/29/16) after passing supplemental capital and operating budgets.

While we are pleased to see some very important investments in affordable housing and homelessness programs, especially for homeless youth, overall the budget compromise is disappointing. Washington is facing a housing affordability crisis and homelessness has reached emergency levels in many communities across the state. This budget fails to adequately invest in the solutions we need to address this crisis. Both the House and Senate had budget options on the table that would have made a real difference in addressing homelessness and public will has never been higher – people recognize that we need to do more. The legislature missed an opportunity.

Below you will find our full statement to the press, followed by a comprehensive table comparing all the budget proposals from the 2016 Legislative Session.

 

Statement to the press

Investments in affordable housing and homelessness in the compromise operating and capital budgets are a small step forward in recognizing the crisis afflicting tens of thousands of families and individuals in communities across Washington. However, these investments fail to expand the proven solutions we need to address homelessness.

The supplemental budgets fall far short of addressing the existing need on the streets and in communities across our state. The original House Operating Budget proposal (HB 2376) was passed by the Democratic-majority House of Representatives and included an additional $37.5 million for affordable housing and supportive services for those in need. The Bring Washington Home Act, (SB 6647) proposed by Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson (D-34, Maury Island) would have invested an additional $186.8 million in a range of affordable housing solutions, homelessness outreach and intervention, and supportive services. Either of these earlier proposals would have made a significant positive impact in the lives of the families and individuals across Washington who are homeless or at risk of becoming so - but the Republican-controlled State Senate refused to give either proposal serious consideration beyond a cursory public hearing.

The final compromise Capital and Operating Budgets passed by the Legislature does total approximately $15 Million for affordable housing and homelessness services. Some of the investments and re-appropriation of funds support important youth homelessness programs, including: $2 Million for the Homeless Student Stability Act (HB 1682), $1.028 Million for HOPE Beds for homeless youth, and $800,000 for Street Youth Services. Unfortunately, the vast majority of this is from existing program funding and does not actually invest new resources in proven solutions to homelessness.  

The final compromise Capital Budget (HB 2380) provides an additional $8 million for affordable housing, including for the Housing Trust Fund, which will fund affordable homes through a competitive grant process and will also fund four specific projects including two youth shelters. Additionally a new program is created, modeled from a similar program in Oregon, which provides incentives for landlords to rent to tenants relying on federal Housing Choice (section 8) vouchers by funding reimbursement for damages to units that exceed normal wear and tear. This new program seeks to help break down unnecessary and unfair barriers to housing by addressing the unfounded fears of landlords that low-income renters cause more damage to units.

Overall, these budgets do not keep pace with the growing need in Washington State.

Recent data from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction shows that 35,511 pubic school children were homeless at some point in the last school year. During the recent point in time count in January, 4,505 people were counted outside in the middle of the night, after the shelters were full in King County. That represented a 19% increase over 2015. Snohomish County saw a 54% increase in unsheltered homelessness in that same period. Kitsap County saw a 30% increase, including a doubling of people living unsheltered.

Significantly greater investment is needed to address this crisis. The Washington Low Income Housing Alliance will continue to work with elected officials toward meaningful, comprehensive solutions. 

###

 

2016 Legislative Session Budget Proposals

BUDGET ITEM

GOVERNOR BUDGET – 12.17.15

HOUSE BUDGET – 2.22.16

SENATE BUDGET - 2.24.16 

SENATE
BUDGET -
3.11.16

FINAL BUDGET -
3.29.16

FUND SOURCE

HOUSING & ESSENTIAL NEEDS

 

No Change

No Change

No Change

No Change No Change General Fund

AGED, BLIND, & DISABLED PROGRAM

 

No Change

No Change

No Change

No Change No Change General Fund

MEDICAL CARE SERVICES

 

No Change

No Change

Analysis in Progress

No Change No Change General Fund

SSI FACILITATION SERVICES

 

No Change

No Change

No Change

No Change No Change General Fund

TEMPORARY ASSISTANCE FOR NEEDY FAMILIES

 

No Change

No Change

No Change

No Change No Change General Fund (State and Federal)

BEHAVIORAL HEALTH HOUSING SUPPORT & STEP DOWN SERVICES

+$2.8 Million

+$2.762 Million

 

+$2.762 Million

+$2.762 Million +2.762 Million $2 Million from General Fund, $762 from General Fund - Federal Approrpriation
AGED, BLIND, AND DISABLED MEDICAL ASSISTANCE
THE CATEGORICALLY NEEDY BLIND DISABLED AND COMMUNITY OPTIONS PROGRAM ENTRY SYSTEM (COPES) POPULATIONS ARE REMOVED FROM MANAGED CARE AND NOW COVERED UNDER FEE-FOR-SERVICE BEGINNING JULY 1, 2016 No Change No Change Yes. See section 213(1)(b)

Yes. See section 213(1)(b)

*language updated from 2.24.16 budget, but still could result in transfer to fee-for service.

No Change N/A
CONSOLIDATED HOMELESS GRANT

CONSOLIDATED HOMELESSNESS GRANT RESTORATION

 

Not Included

+$6.62 Million

+$7.466 Million

+$6.62 Million +$6.62 Million  $4.782 Million from the Home Security Fund and $1.838 Million from the Affordable Housing for All Account (Commerce)

CONSOLIDATED HOMELESSNESS GRANT YOUTH INVESTMENT

 

Not Included

+$787,000

Not Included

+$787,000 +$787,000 Home Security Fund

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 Not Included N/A

RAPID REHOUSING, FAMILIES

 

 

Not Included

+$2.5 Million

Not Included

Not Included Not Included N/A

RENTAL ASSISTANCE

 

Not Included

+$10 Million

Not Included

Not Included Not Included N/A

PERMANENT SUPPORTIVE HOUSING SERVICES & SHELTER

 

Not Included

+$19.729 Million

Not Included

Not Included Not Included N/A

YOUTH & YOUNG ADULT HOMELESSNESS INVESTMENTS

HOPE BEDS

 

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  +$1.028 Million for HOPE Beds and +$248,000 for licensing of additional HOPE and CRC beds $1.028 Million for HOPE Beds from the Home Security Fund
CRISIS RESIDENTIAL CENTER (CRC) BEDS Not Included Not Included See above +$714,000 for ten crisis residential centers beds +$714,000 for ten crisis residential centers beds Home Security Fund

YOUNG ADULT SHELTER BEDS

 

Not Included

$420,000

Not Included

+$420,000 +$420,000 $210,000 from the Home Security Fund and $210,000 from the General Fund

STREET YOUTH SERVICES

 

Not Included

$800,000

+555,000
($120,000 set aside for South King County)

+$800,000 ($120,000 set aside for South King County) +$800,000 ($120,000 set aside for South King County) General Fund

HOMELESS STUDENT STABILITY ACT FUNDING (HB 1682)

 

Not Included

+$4 Million

Not Included

Not Included +$2 Million $1 Million for Home Security Fund and $1 Million from General Fund
HOUSING TRUST FUND TRANSFER TO HOME SECURITY FUND AND/OR GENERAL FUND
DURING THE 2015-2017 BIENNIUM, THE LEGISLATURS MAY TRANSFER FROM THE WASHINGTON HOUSING TRUST FUND TO THE HOME SECURITY FUND ACCOUNT AND TO THE STATE GENERAL FUND SUCH AMOUNTS AS REFLECT THE EXCESS BALANCE IN THE FUND. Not Included Not Included Not Included Not Included Section 936, page 324 N/A
OTHER WASHINGTON HOUSING TRUST ACCOUNT TRANSFERS (THIS ACCOUNT FUNDS O&M AND HOUSING TRUST FUND PORTFOLIO MANAGEMENT, AMONG OTHER THINGS)
HOUSING TRUST ACCOUNT TRANSFER TO GENERAL FUND 0 0 -$1 Million -$1 Million -$3 Million N/A
HOUSING TRUST ACCOUNT TRANSFER TO HOME SECURITY FUND 0 0 -$4 Million -$4 Million -$7 Million N/A

MEDCAID WAIVER FOR PERMANENT SUPPORTIVE HOUSING (1115 WAIVER REQUEST SUBMITTED BY DSHS AND HEALTH CARE AUTHORITY)

BUDGET LANGUAGE RESTRICTING USE OF ANY NEW FEDERAL FUNDS OBTAINED FROM THIS WAIVER N/A N/A Yes. See section 213(1)(c) Yes. See section 213(1)(c) - (g) Yes. See section 213(1)(c) - (g) N/A
 

 

CAPITAL BUDGET ITEM

GOVERNOR BUDGET – 12.17.15

HOUSE CAPITAL BUDGET – 2.24.16

SENATE CAPITAL BUDGET –
2.24.16

Final Budget - 3.29.16 Fund Source

WEATHERIZATION MATCHMAKER PROGRAM

+$5 Million

0

0

0 N/A

HOUSING TRUST FUND PORTFOLIO PRESERVATION PROGRAM

+$2.5 Million

0

0

0 N/A

RAPID HOUSING IMPROVEMENTS TO BRING PRIVATE MARKET RENTAL HOMES INTO COMPLIANCE WITH ESTABLISHED HOUSING STANDARDS

+$1.5 Million

0

0

0 N/A

RAPID HOUSING ACQUISITION DEMONSTRATION TO DEVELOP CONGREGATE SMALL UNIT DWELLINGS OR CONVERT SINGLE-FAMILY HOMES INTO MULTI-FAMILY HOMES

+$1.275 Million

0

0

0 N/A

HOUSING TRUST FUND

+$1 Million
For Affordable Senior Housing

-$4.3 Million

0

+3.5 Million $.5 Million from State Taxable Building Construction Account and $3 Million from Washington Housing Trust Account (Commerce)
Housing Trust Fund project set-asides (total dollars, see bill for project details, HB 2380 section 1005) 0 -$4.3 Million 0 -$4.75 Million Housing Trust Fund

LANDLORD MITIGATION FUND (ONLY ACCESSIBLE IN JURISDICTIONS THAT PROHIBIT RENTAL SOURCE OF INCOME DISCRIMINATION)

+$125,000

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

0

+$125,000 Washington Housing Trust  Account (Commerce)

STUDY OF HOUSING OPPORTUNITIES FOR VETERANS EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS & THE CONVERSION OF UNITS TO PROVIDE PSH FOR GERIATRIC VETERANS WITH PSYCHIATRIC DISORDERS

+$100,000

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

0

+$100,000 Washington Housing Trust  Account (Commerce)

HOMELESS YOUTH COMPETITIVE GRANT PROGRAM (INCLUDES SET ASIDES FOR $1.03/COCOON HOUSE AND $1.545/PSKS YOUTH FACILITY IN SEATTLE)

0

+$5 Million

0

0 N/A

RIVERTON PARK HOME-OWNERSHIP PROJECT

0

+$600,000 

0

+$600,000  Ultra energy efficient affordable housing appropriation

MENTAL HEALTH HOUSING HEALTH HOMES

0

0

+$7.5 million 

+$6 Million See section 1005 9(a) $3 Million from State Taxable Building Construction Account and $3 Million from the Washington Housing Trust Account (Commerce)

MENTAL HEALTH HOUSING, FIRST AND DENNY

0

0

$500,000

$500,000 State Building Construction Account
Health Home, Pierce County (contingent on Pierce County passing the MID per RCW 82.14.460) 0 0 0 +$1.5 Million  State Taxable Building Construction Account

 

 


 

2016 Supplemental Budget 2.0 - Our Analysis

-UPDATED 3/11 TO INCLUDE SPECIAL SESSION SENATE BUDGET PROPOSAL. SEE TABLE BELOW

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 

Senate
Budget -
3.11.16

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

+$787,000

Not Included

+$787,000

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

 

HOPE Beds

 

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

$420,000

Not Included

+$420,000

Street Youth Services

 

Not Included

$800,000

+555,000
($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 –
2.24.16

Weatherization Matchmaker Program

+$5 Million

0

0

Housing Trust Fund Portfolio Preservation Program

+$2.5 Million

0

0

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

+$1.5 Million

0

0

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

+$1.275 Million

0

0

Housing Trust Fund

+$1 Million
For Affordable Senior Housing

-$4.3 Million

0

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

+$125,000

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

0

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

+$100,000

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

0

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

0

+$5 Million

0

Riverton Park home-ownership project

0

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

0

Mental Health Housing Health Homes

0

0

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

Mental Health Housing, First and Denny

0

0

$500,000

 

 


 

Budget Choices and Consequences

The budget debate -- much like the cold weather here in Seattle -- seems to be dragging on and on. And unfortunately, the budget, much like inclement weather, seems to hit those without a home especially hard.

The Seattle Times recently pointed out that most of the difference between the latest GOP budget and the Democrat budget proposals is made up by cuts to three programs: $41 million from the complete elimination of Disability Lifeline; $155 million by taking all of the unexpended funds from Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) and then adding additional cuts, and then $54 million from the complete elimination of Housing and Essential Needs (HEN).

The choice presented to Washingtonians is a very stark one. On one hand, we can fund programs that protect the most vulnerable in our society. This approach leads to stories like this one:

“Thank you for this assistance, I am currently homeless, camping by the river in a tent. I have been since October 2011. Thanks to the HEN program I have been able to get the resources to look for housing and they put me in a motel so I don’t have to be in the cold. I was currently diagnosed with Hepatitis C and my health is very poor. I believe I can have a much better future with this program. It has made me more focused and determined to find housing because now I have hope, knowing I have this help. Thank you.”

Or, on the other hand, we can make deeper and deeper cuts to critical services. The result of that choice, we saw last week, was new data from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction showing the largest year-to-year increase in the number of identified homeless students since Columbia Legal Services started analyzing the data in 2007 -- a flabbergasting 19% increase. This means there are more than 26,000 homeless students in Washington, or close to 1 in every 40 students. 

I wish we could say this was surprising news, but our members have been telling us for quite awhile now that the fastest growing population of recipients of services has been single mothers, many of whom have never received services before. More than 13% of people in Washington struggle to survive with incomes at or below the poverty line, and among single women with young children that percentage jumps up to 47.9%. When the state made cuts to the safety-net last year, housing advocates across the state said that we were going to see more homeless families. 

On one hand, we have Senator Murray's Operating Budget, which reverses cuts and can lead to stories of people leaving homelessness and finding independence. On the other hand, we have the latest Republican budget, which will lead to more and more families falling through the holes in what was once our state's safety-net. This is why it is critically important that we keep letting our elected officials know that they need to stand strong through the special session and budget negotiations and make sure the ending budget protects these safety net programs. Please take a minute to let your legislators know that you support a budget that protects the most vulnerable.

Click here to send a message to your legislators to stand strong and protect safety-net programs.

Thank you for your advocacy,

--Ben

 

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