Housing Trust Fund

Housing Advocacy in Action! Week of March 20

Michele Thomas, Director of Policy and Advocacy

We are now over two-thirds of the way through this 105-day legislative session. Over 2000 bills are already dead for the session. If a bill is dead, since it is the beginning of the two-year budget/bill cycle, it will be able to start the process over in 2018 without being reintroduced. But there is also a saying in Olympia that a bill is never really dead until “sine die”. Sine die, basically meaning “adjournment”, is called to close a legislative session. Even if lawmakers are called back for a special session, they will call Sine Die by (or before) April 23, which is the last day allowed for this session.

Interesting facts

1473 bills have been introduced in the House (an average of 15 per Representative). 566 of those House bills have been passed out of House committees. 376 of them have been passed out of the House, and are now in the Senate. Two House bills have already passed the Senate.

1297 bills have been introduced in the Senate (an average 26 per Senator). 484 Senate bills have been passed out of Senate committees. 283 of them have been passed out of the Senate, and are now in the House. Four Senate bills have already passed the House.

The Legislature is set to release budgets this week: action needed!

The state Senate will be the first to release their budgets this year. The Senate Republicans are holding a press conference on Tuesday, March 21 to discuss their Operating Budget proposal. They are expected to release the Capital Budget a little later in the week. Once the first legislative budget is out, hearings will begin. The Housing Alliance will be weighing in with either concern over cuts to safety net programs or with thanks if our budget priorities are protected. The House is currently expected to release their budgets next week (during the week of March 27). Watch this blog and Housing Alliance social media for updates on the budget proposals and for urgent action requests. In the meantime, now is a critical time to weigh in with lawmakers with a request to fund the Housing Trust Fund at $200 million. This week is the last week to influence the Capital Budget proposals before they are finalized and released. We need a groundswell of voices asking for the Housing Trust Fund to be prioritized. Please take action today and ask your board, your colleagues, and other networks to join you.

Do you want more background on the state budget? Here are some useful resources:


Federal budget proposal is draconian and irresponsible


via Washington Post

Last week, President Trump released a budget blueprint for the 2018 fiscal year (October 1, 2017 – September 30, 2018.)

His priorities are clear. In order to significantly increase military spending, make a down payment on his wall, and fund school vouchers, the President has proposed deep cuts that would devastate communities across the country and take life saving services away from people who rely on them.

His proposal cuts HUD by 13%, or $6.2 billion compared with 2016 levels. Compared to funding levels needed for 2017, the budget is a $7.5 billion, or 15% reduction.

The President’s budget eliminates Community Development Block Grants that provided $51 million for housing and infrastructure in Washington in 2016 and the HOME Investment Partnership program that provided $19 million to our state and local communities to build and preserve affordable homes. It also eliminates Choice Neighborhood grants, the Self-help Homeownership Opportunity Program, and the Section 4 Capacity Building Program.

It also eliminates:

  • Legal Aid – which helps low-income tenants avoid unwarranted evictions and remove barriers to rental housing.
  • US Interagency Council on Homelessness – which coordinates the federal response to homelessness across 19 agencies and reduced homelessness among veterans by half since 2010.
  • LIHEAP – which heats the homes of low-income seniors and families during the winter.

While this budget is just a starting point, and has critics among both Republicans and Democrats in Congress, fighting it is one of the most important things we can do right now. Because the budget is so extreme, there is a risk that restoring some high profile programs and adopting smaller cuts could be seen as a reasonable compromise. Given the enormity of the housing affordability crisis in Washington and across the country, any significant cuts will increase homelessness and cause greater suffering.

One thing we know is clear: advocacy can defeat this budget proposal! Over the coming weeks and months, the Housing Alliance will send out more information and resources on the federal budget, but for now, here are some important resources that will provide more background:

National Low Income Housing Coalition resources:

  • Archive of all NLIHC webinars, including one from Monday, March 20, which provides an overview of the budget proposal and advocacy needed to defeat it.

Center for Budget and Policy Priorities resources:

Additionally, if you are part of an organization, you can sign onto a letter telling Congress to protect affordable housing and transportation funding.

We will continue to update you on progress and opportunities to make your voice heard. 


Ask a Lobbyist: What is a “Special Session”?

We’ve been hearing that the use of the terms “regular session” and “special session” are a bit confusing. Here is some background on what they mean:

The short answer is that a “special session” is an extended session. It is necessary if the legislature is unable to finish the budget during the “regular session”. Here is the longer story:

According to the book Sine Die by Edward D. Seeberger, Washington voters adopted a constitutional amendment in 1979 that provided for the current legislative calendar which sets a 105-day “regular” session during each odd-numbered year and a regular 60-day session in each even-numbered year. Prior to that, sessions were held every odd-numbered year and were limited to just 60 days.

We are currently about two-thirds of the way through the regular 2017 105-day session, which must adjourn no later than April 23. And an Operating Budget for the next biennium must be finalized (voted on by both chambers and signed by the Governor) before July 1 – the date that current budget expires. If the legislature is not done with the budget process by April 23, they will need to be called back for an additional session. If they are unable to finalize it within that first special session, they will be called back for another. Each special session can last no more than 30 days and can be called by the Governor (which is most common) or by a two-thirds vote of all members of the legislature. Even though they are called for 30 days at a time, they can adjourn before the 30 days are up. Usually during a special session, only budgets and items that are necessary to implement the budget can be considered. Special sessions have become very common in recent years, with the 2015 session requiring several in order to reach agreement between the House and Senate on the final budget. That year, it took until June 30 to reach final agreement, with the Governor signing it just hours before the deadline. It is assumed that budget deliberations this year will be hard and will require at least one special session. The Housing Alliance will keep advocates updated on all budget deliberations, so if a special session is called, you will know.

Have a question? Ask a Lobbyist here.

 

-Michele

 

 

 

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

 

 


 

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 TeresaC@wliha.org. 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.

Sincerely,
Michele

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.

 


 

Historic gains for affordable housing this legislative session!

Michele Thomas, Director of Policy and Advocacy

This past Wednesday night was more than a good night. It was an astonishing testament that advocacy works. Since January, over a thousand of you took action again and again. You told lawmakers to not leave town until they had done everything possible to expand access to affordable housing and to end homelessness. They heard your message!

Big Wins for HEN/ABD and TANF

In the dramatic hours before the end of the state’s fiscal year, Washington lawmakers secured significant new state dollars for affordable homes. And they passed several bills that will create new funding sources for housing, services, and mental health facilities. Further, the final state operating budget, signed into law at 11:30 Tuesday night, includes full funding for the Housing & Essential Needs (HEN) and the Aged Blind & Disabled (ABD) programs. And it funds many other important priorities, including a nine percent increase in the TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) cash grant!

$75 Million for Affordable Homes!

But wait, there’s more! Lawmakers also passed a capital budget that provides $75 million for affordable housing and $15 million for weatherization of homes owned by low-income homeowners. The $75 million for the Housing Trust Fund will create nearly 2,000 homes for seniors, homeless families, people with developmental disabilities and mental illness, veterans, homeless youth, and more. It will also create 500 new safe, healthy beds for farmworkers.

HB 2263 Creates a Local Option for Affordable Housing and Mental Health Services

If you are not already jumping up and down, consider that lawmakers also passed HB 2263 late Wednesday night. This bill provides local communities the option of asking their voters to support a new tax for affordable housing and mental health facilities. Those funds could also be used for operations and maintenance needs as well as homeless services. A similar local taxing authority for mental health services brought in nearly $100 million across the state in 2014 alone.

Check out this video of nonprofit board members from around the state testifying for HB 2263!

Funding for Affordable Homes Near Transit

And that’s not all! Lawmakers also passed SB 5987. This transportation package includes significant new dollars for affordable housing and services in the Puget Sound region. The bill requires that at least $20 million be provided for affordable housing near transit. It also establishes that 80% of the surplus properties in light rail stations must be made available for affordable housing. Additionally, an amendment by Representative Jessyn Farrell (46th LD, Seattle) creates a funding source for the Puget Sound region of up to $518 million for services to improve educational outcomes in early learning, K-12, and higher education. This includes, but is not limited to low-income, homeless, or foster care youth.

These new dollars for the Puget Sound region are on top of the victory earlier in the session via Representative Larry Springer’s (45th LD, Kirkland) HB 1223. This bill secured at least $45 million for new affordable housing in transit areas.

A Big Win for Permanent Supportive Housing!


Whether you attended Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day earlier this year, or met with your legislator or their staff in-person, or sent an advocacy email supporting our legislative agenda, you helped make this session historic!

In addition to all the great legislative news, the Housing Alliance recently received this info: the state’s Health Care Authority is submitting a federal waiver request to the feds that includes the ability for our state to use Medicaid funds to pay for the medically necessary services delivered in permanent supportive housing. This was a top legislative priority for the Housing Alliance this year! Even more, the federal government issued a bulletin late last week confirming that Medicaid dollars can be used for these services.

All Because of You...

All of this great news means new resources are coming to our communities to create affordable homes and fight homelessness. And it couldn’t be at a more important time. You told your lawmakers to do more and they listened.

Thank you for your advocacy.

There is more to do, and we hope that you will continue to join us as we work to build on these victories in the 2016 legislative session.

Stay tuned. We’ll have an opportunity for you to thank lawmaker champions and please plan now for in-district advocacy opportunities this summer and fall. Consider inviting your lawmakers to your board meeting or to tour affordable homes built with state dollars. The Housing Alliance can assist you in your advocacy efforts, including with getting your board involved with advocacy! It works, let’s keep it going!

 


 

A Final Capital Budget!

Michele Thomas, Director of Policy and Advocacy

More great housing & homelessness news from the capitol!

The capital budget was just released, and it includes $75 million for the Housing Trust Fund! This is an amazing victory in a year with so much pressure on the capital budget! The House just passed the budget on a 96-2 vote, and the Senate still has to pass the budget. But the bill released includes amounts both sides had previously agreed to, which means that amendments are very unlikely.

Additionally, Weatherization Assistance for low-income homeowners was allocated $15 million. Weatherization improvements of owner-occupied homes save homeowners money and keep homes warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Weatherization assistance is especially important in rural communities and has environmental benefits of less energy consumption.

The capital budget also directs the Department of Commerce to use $2.5 million in existing funds to create a pilot for ultra-energy efficient affordable housing.

Overall, this is very great news! Almost 2,000 households in need across the state will have safe, healthy, affordable homes because of this allocation, and farmworkers will have safe, affordable seasonal housing. There are plenty of thanks to be made. Stay tuned for the mighty list of lawmakers who championed these allocations.

You can check out the full budget language here. Section 1032 contains the HTF allocation.

If you have a moment, please send a quick thank-you note to these legislative champions:

Rep. Hans Dunshee (44th LD, Snohomish): Dunshee.Hans@leg.wa.gov
Rep Derek Stanford (1st LD, Bothell): Derek.Stanford@leg.wa.gov
Rep Richard DeBolt (20th, Chehalis): Richard.DeBolt@leg.wa.gov
Speaker Frank Chopp (43rd LD, Seattle): Frank.Chopp@leg.wa.gov
Rep June Robinson (38th LD, Everett): June.Robinson@leg.wa.gov
 
 

 

First Update from the Special Session

Michele Thomas, Director of Policy & Advocacy

Second Special Session Starts Today

The first legislative special session ended yesterday without a resolution on the operating budget. The Governor held a press conference that same evening and immediately issued an order to lawmakers to come back for another 30-day special session. While lawmakers technically have the next 30 days to finish their business, pressure is mounting for them to finish as quickly as possible.

You can still advocate during the special session!

The legislature has until July 1 to come up with a budget that helps restore the state social safety net and adequately funds affordable housing. Compromise takes a long time. And we believe legislators will be able to come up with a budget that'll satisfy both chambers. Until then, it is still extremely important that lawmakers know you are still paying attention and still holding them accountable to passing a budget that contains new revenue sources.

Please Take Action Now!

Good Revenue News

A little earlier this month, the State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council announced that revenues are coming in stronger than projected for the current budget (+$106 M) and for the next budget (+$309 M). This means that revenue and economic trends are moving in the right direction, but there unfortunately still isn’t enough revenue to meet progressive budget goals. We can’t fund current obligations while both meeting the Washington State Supreme Court mandate to increase state funding for basic education and at the same time making progress towards restoring the over $12 billion in cuts made to the state budget since the Great Recession.

Senate Operating Budget Redux

Yesterday, Senate Majority Leadership released a new operating budget. While they provided a briefing of a new budget during a Senate Ways and Means meeting, they retreated from the standard democratic practice of allowing a public hearing. The bill moved from the committee on a party line vote, but it wasn’t voted on the Senate Floor before the session adjourned. You can read a broad overview of the budget and the near-term impacts of not enacting new revenue here.

Senate leadership remains resistant to enacting new and fair taxes that will get our state onto a sustainable budget path and out of the short-term budget-cutting patches that lawmakers have relied on for many budget cycles. While we are thankful our affordable housing and homelessness movement has successfully organized to protect safety net services like the Housing & Essential Needs and Aged, Blind & Disabled programs (respectively rental assistance and basic cash assistance for disabled adults), much more needs to be done to ensure our state has the resources needed to fund basic services that prevent and end homelessness over the next budget cycle. We urge state lawmakers to keep pushing for a final budget resolution that meets the needs of the most vulnerable and to enact fair revenue solutions like a capital gains tax.

Click here to send your lawmakers a message today to remind them they should prioritize affordable housing and homelessness during the ongoing budget negotiations.

Learn more about a capital gains tax from the Washington State Budget & Policy Center.

Capital Budget Update

The status of the capital budget, which is the source of funding for the Housing Trust Fund, remains in limbo as well. The state must pass an operating budget, but they don’t technically have an obligation to pass their other two budgets (the capital budget and the transportation budget). The House capital budget included $80 million in new funding for the Housing Trust Fund, while the Senate’s proposed budget included $65 million. We urge lawmakers to accept the House Capital Budget, which passed during the regular session with overwhelming bipartisan support, 96-2. Take action today to urge lawmakers to pass a capital budget that includes at least $80 million for the Housing Trust Fund.

 

Next Steps

The Housing Alliance will keep you updated with significant developments during the second special session. Lawmakers have to finalize the budget before July 1, which is the first day of the next budget cycle. We expect that lawmakers will finish in time to avoid a government shutdown. While the final budget outcomes are yet to be determined, it is clear that advocacy created the political pressure and deep education needed to elevate affordable housing and homelessness as central issues this year. We urge you to keep up the advocacy both during the second special session and into the interim. The Housing Alliance has tools and resources to support your advocacy, and we want to partner with you. Let us know if you are interested in hosting meetings with your lawmakers during the coming months–together we will keep moving forward.

If you need a refresher, here's the current status of our bill and budget priorities during these past couple of sessions.

 

 


 

Rents continue to be Out of Reach for too many across Washington

Joaquin Uy, Communications Specialist

In order to afford a modest, one-bedroom apartment at Fair Market Rent in Washington, renters need to earn $17.26 per hour. This is Washington’s 2015 one-bedroom Housing Wage, revealed in a national report released today. Washington, D.C.-based research and advocacy organization National Low Income Housing Coalition and the statewide legislative advocacy organization Washington Low Income Housing Alliance jointly released the Out of Reach 2015 report.

Every year, Out of Reach reports on the Housing Wage for all states, counties, metropolitan areas, and combined non-metropolitan areas in the country. The report presents housing costs nationwide, highlighting the gap between what renters earn and what it costs to afford rent at fair market value.

According to the report, this state is the tenth most expensive state for renters. There is no doubt that the high cost of rental housing is driving increases in homelessness. According to an article published recently in the Journal of Urban Affairs, an increase of $100 in median rent for an area results in a 15 percent (metro areas) and a 39 percent (nearby suburbs and rural areas) increase in homelessness.

The hourly wage (working full-time) needed to afford a modest 2-bedroom apartment jumped by at least 10 percent in six counties:

County Percentage increase of hourly wage needed to afford a home
King County 26%
Snohomish County 26%
San Juan County 14%
Clallam County 11%
Pacific County 10%
Benton County 10%
Franklin County 10%

“Opportunities for safe, healthy, affordable homes are decreasing across Washington at alarming speeds,” says Housing Alliance Executive Director Rachael Myers. “We knew this trend would happen. That’s why we’ve been working to protect vulnerable renters and increase funding for affordable homes. While lawmakers failed to pass legislation to protect tenants this year, they still have an opportunity to invest in affordable homes before the special session is over.”

While the lack of affordable housing is a large part of why homelessness rates are increasing in Washington, wages have also not kept pace with rising rents. The federal minimum wage has remained at $7.25 an hour without an increase since 2009, generating debate and calls to raise the wage both at the state and federal levels. In no state, even those where the minimum wage has been set above the federal standard, can a minimum wage renter working a 40-hour work week afford a one-bedroom rental unit at Fair Market Rent.

Working at the minimum wage of $9.47 in Washington, a family must have 1.8 wage earners working full-time, or one full-time earner working 73 hours a week to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment.

Affording a rental home continues to be difficult even in Seattle, which has the highest minimum wage in the country at $15. The one-bedroom fair market rent in the city is a whopping $1,150, the highest in the state. Someone earning $15/hour would need to work 59 hours per week or 1.5 full-time jobs to afford this rent.

This is why advocates continue to work at the federal level for national solutions to the nation’s growing housing affordability crisis. The Housing Alliance joins with the National Low Income Housing Coalition in supporting the National Housing Trust Fund, which will provide communities with funds to create homes that are affordable for people at the lowest income levels.

You can view/download the entire report here.

Compare data from cities and counties to state data here.

 


 

GiveBIG Day of Champions—The Basics

Paige McAdams, Communications Intern

May 5, 2015 is the Seattle Foundation’s GiveBIG Day of Champions, a one-day-only online donation event designed to raise money for nonprofit organizations. Contributions from GiveBIG sponsors are used to stretch donations made to nonprofits, up to $2,500 per donor, per organization. To paint a better picture, GiveBig Day 2014 stretched each donation by about 8 cents per dollar.

Also all GiveBIG Day donors are in a pool to be randomly selected for a Golden Ticket. Recipients of the Golden Ticket will receive a $100 Starbucks gift card as well as an extra $1,000 to your selected nonprofit from the Seattle Foundation.

GiveBIG is a huge day for Seattle nonprofits, and it will be an especially big day for the Housing Alliance. Thanks to a few Champion Board Members and Supporters, any online donations made to the Alliance anytime on May 5 will be matched 1:1. Any donation up to $6,000 is eligible for this 1:1 match. This plus the GiveBIG stretch means that your donation will be more then doubled!

Donating to the Housing Alliance on GiveBIG Day will help us take our mission to the next level. Our recently released 2015-2018 Strategic Plan is moving us forward, and donations received through GiveBIG will be key in doing so.

Affordable homes remain out of reach for too many Washingtonians, particularly those with the lowest incomes. We see these inequalities in our communities every day, from the street to the classroom. The reasons for homelessness and housing instability are complex, and are at the core of our public policies. Change is difficult, but it is not impossible. The Housing Alliance seeks swift, decisive, and thoughtful change. To bring about that change, we work to bring people and organizations together in order to have the greatest impact on policy.

Your donation will support a strong, statewide movement for affordable homes and an end to homelessness, and there’s no better way to give then on Seattle’s GiveBig Day of Champions.

Click here at bit.ly/GIVEWLIHA on May 5, 2015 to GiveBig with the Housing Alliance!

 

 


 

The Week in Housing Advocacy - Week 15

Michele Thomas, Director of Policy & Advocacy

Final Week of the Regular Session

As predicted, the legislature adjourned the regular session on Friday without reaching agreement on a budget. The main budget under negotiation is the biennial operating budget, which by law is needed by July 1. Legislators will need to come back during what is called a “special session” to continue to negotiate the budget, and the governor announced that this session will start this Wednesday, April 29.

You can still send emails during the special session!

The 2015 Washington State Legislative Session officially ended Friday, April 24. Legislators will begin the special session Wednesday, April 29 to finalize a budget. So you still have an opportunity to tell your legislators to pass a final budget that includes both creating new sources of revenue and making deep investments in both affordable housing and safety net services.

Take Action Here!

Learn at Lunch
2015 Session Wrap-up

Join the Housing Alliance to debrief the session and to discuss how affordable housing and homelessness issues fared. We will discuss what to expect for this special session and what advocates can do to ensure that the final budgets include the House’s affordable housing allocations.

2015 Session Wrap-up Webinar
Wednesday, April 29
12:00pm - 1:00pm

Register here!

After $12 billion in budget cuts to safety net services that protect our most vulnerable community members since the “Great Recession”, the legislature faces a clear choice to enact revenue. To fully maintain the safety net at current levels, while also meeting the state Supreme Court mandate to invest more in basic education, revenue is indeed needed. New revenue streams should have been instituted long before the legislature enacted the $12 billion in cuts. But the legislature has tangible and fair tax options before them now. The special session gives lawmakers the opportunity to continue negotiations over the variety of tax options currently on the table, including a Capital Gains Tax and a Carbon Polluters Tax bill.

See previous blog posts for more details on the tax options on the table.

Mixed Bag Session

This session was a mixed bag with some important policy achievements. Extended Foster Care (SB 5740), the Homeless Youth Act (SB 5404), and the King County Stadium Bonds bill (HB 1223), which will allow for $45 million in new bonds for affordable housing, are important accomplishments this session. Missed opportunities include the Source of Income Protections bill (HB 1565) which would have outlawed discrimination against renters relying on government assistance to make ends meet and the Fair Tenant Screening Report bill (HB 1257) which would have allowed renters to pay for one comprehensive tenant screening report while applying for housing. And with many important affordable housing and homelessness programs still awaiting a budget allocation—such as the Housing Trust Fund—the overall impact of the legislative session remains to be seen.

You Still Made a Difference!

Clearly, affordable housing and homelessness advocates have risen up this session and were heard loud and clear. From the record-breaking attendance at this year’s Homeless Housing and Advocacy Day to the thousands of advocacy phone calls, emails, letters, and meetings, you were a powerful presence in Olympia.

Affordable housing is a significant issue on the radar of budget negotiators, but advocacy will still be needed to ensure that the final budgets fully reflect our shared priorities.

 

You Can Still Make a Difference!

If you haven’t already taken action this last week to tell your lawmakers that the final budget needs to fully invest in affordable housing and homelessness prevention programs, please do so now. And please stay tuned for updates and opportunities to take action.

Please take action today to send your lawmakers a strong and clear message about what the final budgets should include.

As always, stay tuned to the Housing Alliance’s social media (Twitter and Facebook) throughout the week for timely updates.

 

Join the Housing Alliance Team!

Now you have an opportunity to join our awesome team leading the movement to ensure all Washington residents have the opportunity for safe, healthy, affordable homes in thriving communities. We are searching for an Operations and Finance Administrator. Go here for details and how to apply.

 

 


 

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