Tenants rights

Save the date & now accepting proposals!

Kate Baber, Homelessness Policy and Advocacy Specialist

Over the past several weeks, we’ve had a number of major updates to share with our members. Last week, we shared our ideas for new strategies to end chronic homelessness and improve health. This week, we are excited to announce the date of next year’s Conference on Ending Homelessness.

Please save the date: May 13 and 14, 2015 for the 25th Annual Conference on Ending Homelessness to be held at the Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center in Tacoma, Washington.

The conference will bring over 600 homelessness advocates and direct service providers together from across Washington for our state’s largest conversation on ending homelessness. Next year’s conference program will continue to build momentum towards ending homelessness by providing skill-building opportunities, research and policy updates, advocacy and communication trainings, networking opportunities to exchange ideas and best practices, and continuing education credits.

Do you have a creative and innovative workshop idea? The conference planning committee is now accepting workshop proposals, and we invite you to submit a proposal form by October 31, 2014. Please note the earlier than usual due date for proposals. Proposal forms and instructions can be downloaded from our conference website: wliha.org/COEH.

Conference registration and scholarship applications will open in February 2015. You can visit our conference website for updates over the coming months. In the meantime, please save the date!

 


 

Tomas Villanueva, advocate, activist, and champion for farmworkers

Brien Thane, Housing Alliance Co-founder

Washington State has lost a great leader and housing advocate with the passing of Tomas Villanueva on Friday, June 6. Remembered most for his selfless lifelong dedication to social justice for Washington State farmworkers, Tomas understood the connection between wage and the issues of education, health, and housing. And he connected the dots decades before the McCleary decision, the Affordable Care Act, and the fight for a living wage had brought these linkages to the forefront of political discourse.

As an advocate and president of the United Farm Workers of Washington, Tomas created the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic, the first such medical clinic in the Northwest. He also formed a coalition to win farmworkers coverage under the state’s minimum wage, unemployment insurance, labor standards, and child labor laws. Tomas also continued his advocacy while working as a community relations coordinator for the state Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), where he single handedly repurposed $2 million of federal repayments to the state relating to immigration reform into the state’s first farmworker housing production program.

While working for DSHS in a 2003, Tomas was interviewed for the University of Washington’s Farm Workers in Washington State History Project and eloquently stated the simple truth that many public officials are only now coming to understand: 

I get involved a lot in farm worker housing issues. I’ve been involved with the housing issue since I was with the union, and after that, and my supervisors understand. If people live in a deteriorated and unhealthy house, it’s going to eventually affect medical services involving health and local food banks - people that don’t qualify for food stamps. To me, that’s my job to insure that people don’t fall through the cracks.

As a member of the Washington State Farm Worker Housing Trust, Tomas lobbied for millions of dollars for the construction of community-based farm worker housing.

Tomas served on many boards and committees as the recognized statewide representative of farmworker interests, reminding everyone from state officials to advocacy groups of one simple truth: farmworkers’ needs are no different than anyone else’s.

Advocates and champions are often described as “tireless.” Tomas truly was tireless, barely slowing down even when besieged by health problems. I’ve never met anyone so determined and unstoppable. He was also one of the most gracious and inclusive persons I’ve ever known. He could argue opponents to a standstill and then share a pleasant meal (and maybe make a point or two again in passing).

And the man could dance. Years ago we were at a housing conference, having a drink after sessions were over. A band set up and started playing. Tomas agreed to dance with an acquaintance at our table, and within moments a line of women formed, waiting their turn to cut the rug with Tomas. Turns out he and his siblings grew up winning folkloric dance competitions.

It was an honor and inspiration to work with Tomas. I miss the twinkle in his eye very much.

 


 

Reflections on the 2014 Conference on Ending Homelessness

Kirk McClain, Advocate

I received a grant from the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance that enabled me to attend the 2014 Conference on Ending Homelessness in Yakima, Washington. As a homeless person, I did not have the financial resources to attend on my own. So I was very excited when I received the acceptance email from the Housing Alliance.

The conference lasted two days, and I had the opportunity to attend six workshops. The two workshops most important to me were Lawmaker Engagement Strategies During The Legislative Interim and Housing & Essential Needs (HEN) Provider Discussion because they were directly related to where I am in life. The two major things I want to do right now are to obtain housing and learn how to become an advocate for homeless services and social safety net programs in the state legislature. My first experience with ever speaking to a lawmaker was a couple of years ago during a community listening session moderated by Kate Baber back when she was working at Seattle-based organization Statewide Poverty Action Network.

Kate now works for Washington Low Income Housing Alliance and was one of the presenters of the engaging lawmakers workshop. I mentioned my first experience with Poverty Action because that was really my first time advocating to a lawmaker. Although I felt really good about the experience, I also was left with a great desire to know how laws are made and how advocacy can affect change in what legislation becomes law. The workshop on engaging lawmakers really got into the details of how to advocate in Olympia and even in my own legislative district. For me, this is what having a voice is all about – learning how to communicate effectively with lawmakers. The two presenters Kate Baber and Michele Thomas spoke passionately and honestly. Both had a great deal of knowledge about topics like one-on-one meetings with legislators, how to organize a site visit, inviting lawmakers to fundraisers, and other events that can provide a great opportunity to build relationships.

The Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) workshop was interesting and helpful to me because it allowed me to see “behind the curtain” of what service providers have to do in administrating the HEN program.

To me, learning how to advocate for the homeless in Olympia and applying that education to help homeless persons (myself included) are simply two points on a continuum that will eventually help me to find myself and to re-evaluate and rebuild my life. The conference helped me to see that the many service providers who work to assist the homeless are caring people who would do more if they could. I believe if we could get better laws passed to help the homeless, more effective homelessness services would inevitably follow. Since attending the Conference on Ending Homeless, I feel more empowered to join with others who care enough make the changes necessary to see more homeless people find homes and get on the path to a stable and productive life.

Pictured (L to R): Emerging Advocates Program graduate Nick Maxwell and author Kirk McClain during one of the conference workshops. 

 


 

Program returns to help emerge advocates across the state

Susan Russell, Advocate

It’s a new year and another opportunity to become involved in the Emerging Advocates Program!

I’m a graduate of EAP. Here’s how I recently emerged as an advocate through the program. One day on my way home from work as a cement mason I was rear-ended by an uninsured motorist. This accident took away my trade, and I accumulated debt I couldn't pay. This led me to lose my apartment in 2004. At first I couch surfed. I'd get a boyfriend; we'd live together. When things wouldn't work out, I'd find myself homeless once again. I hid my homelessness from my friends and family. But that couldn't last for long. During the last six years I've been homeless, things got a lot harder and more dangerous. Something had to change.

In 2011, a Real Change vendor encouraged me to think about selling the paper. The next year, I finally made the decision to go check it out. This was the start of my journey out of homelessness.

I'll never forget my first day selling the paper, it was truely the hardest thing I've ever done. For me, it was the first public statement that I was homeless. But through selling up at Ken’s Market in Greenwood, I found a community that embraced me. The people at Real Change were the same way. I want everyone to know this because without the support of the communities I've gotten to know as a vendor, I would not be the person I am today. I'm so thankful for all the love people gave me in this process.

In 2013, Real Change recommended me to the Housing Alliance's Emerging Advocates Program, and I was accepted into the very first class. This, my friends, was the beginning of another journey – my journey to help end homelessness. I learned how to interact with politicians and decision-makers to make a change. Also, EAP has given me the knowledge and the confidence I needed to move forward to become more involved in making a change to end homelessness.

Since I’ve lived the life of homelessness, I believe I’m the perfect person to bring the message to people in power who don’t understand what it’s like to be homeless. The way I see it, it is my duty as a human being to educate those who will never experience poverty. 

I invite you to participate in this exciting program that will educate those with an interest to help make a difference in our communities statewide.  When we sit on the sidelines, nothing gets done. Get involved, be part of the solution! 

Emerging Advocates Program brings together a group of individuals who are compassionate and believe that we can make that difference. So join us by enrolling in this wonderful program! Remember, together we can do things that we can never do alone.

Click here for the application and send it in as soon as you can.

Susan Russell saying, "Don't wait! Apply now!"

EAP 2013 graduates August Mallory (R) & Susan Russell (L) at a mock hearing in Olympia.

 


 

The Week in Housing Advocacy - Week 9

Michele Thomas, Director of Policy & Advocacy

Late on Thursday, March 13, the legislature adjourned (also known as "Sine Die"). After rumors of another special session began circulating earlier that week, the budget writers spent long nights seeking compromise and finalizing details. The agreed-upon budget was revealed at a Thursday press conference and then voted out of the House and Senate with large bipartisan support. See below for operating budget details.
 

Homeless Housing and Assistance Surcharge: "A Legislative Miracle"

We never gave up. And in the last hours of the session, the legislature took action on the Homeless Housing and Assistance Surcharges/Document Recording Fees. Grassroots advocacy and public pressure pushed this bill to the finish line. Senator Jan Angel (26th LD-Port Orchard) went from adamant opposition, to personally introducing the floor amendment. This was quite a remarkable turnaround in a matter of just two short weeks!! As one seasoned lobbyist noted, "ESSB 5875 passing is a legislative miracle."

Advocates across the state really made a huge difference. If you emailed or called your legislator, you should be proud that together we've preserved funds supporting programs and services that allow people to get back on their feet and leave the brutality of homelessness behind them.

Many lawmakers made notable remarks on the floor before voting on the bill Thursday night. We especially liked how Senator Marko Liias (21st LD-Mukilteo) described how remarkable it was he had the opportunity to vote on the bill that night.

When we pass out charts for school children explaining how a bill becomes a law, it does not cover bills like this one, that move through the process in different ways...It's also a testament to the power of everyday people in our democracy to speak up when they see a decision that they don't agree with. Everyday citizens like the local Catholic action folks that came and talked to me and I'm sure to many of my colleagues. Efforts by our news media through editorial boards and letters to the editor from around the state to talk about this issue. So I think this bill while it didn't come through the normal course, it is a testament to fact that our democracy works, that as legislators we listen and sometimes when we don't get it quite right, we fix our mistakes.
Senator Marko Liias (21st LD-Mukilteo)

You can watch his speech below.

And you can watch all the Senate floor speeches here.

Many lawmakers went above and beyond to get this bill passed. Senator Jeannie Darneille (27th LD-Tacoma) and Representative David Sawyer (29th LD-Tacoma) deserve special thanks for being the prime sponsors. Please send them a quick email to tell them how much you appreciate their leadership. But we'd be remiss if we didn't also point out the amazing, sometimes behind-the-scenes, work of the following lawmakers.

(Click on their names to send an email.)

Senate
Sen. Jeannie Darneille (27th LD-Tacoma)
Sen. Sharon Nelson (34th LD-Maury Island)
Sen. David Frockt (46th LD-Seattle)
Sen. Steve Hobbs (44th LD-Lake Stevens)
Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles (36th LD-Seattle)
Sen. Andy Billig (3rd LD-Spokane)
Sen. Don Benton (17th LD-Vancouver).
House
Rep. David Sawyer (29th LD-Tacoma)
Rep. Maureen Walsh (16th LD-Walla Walla)
Rep. Pat Sullivan (47th LD-Covington)

 


Legislators in support of ESHB 2368, the original Document Recording Fee Bill at our Thursday,
March 6th press conference.

Our Analysis of the Document Recording Bill that Finally Passed

In the end, it was ESSB 5875 that passed. You might remember that our preferred version of the bill ESHB 2368 died when Senator Jan Angel (26th LD-Port Orchard) refused to give it a vote in committee. The Majority Coalition Caucus introduced SB 5875 after intense public pressure. While the final bill isn't exactly what we wanted, it is a significant improvement because it pushes out the sunset dates until 2019. Here are more details on what the bill does:

  • Extends the $40 homeless housing and assistance document recording surcharges through June 30, 2019. (The bill combined the sunset dates so both will now sunset at the same time).
  • Requires 45 percent of the state's non-administrative allotment of the surcharge fee revenue to be set aside for "private rental housing payments," which is defined to specifically exclude nonprofits.
  • Changes which documents that the fee applies to by striking the term "real property" and by excluding documents recording a state, county, or city lien or satisfaction of a lien. More analysis is needed to determine the impacts on revenue collected.
  • Requires an annual independent audit of the expenditure of the document recording fee revenue. And if the audit determines that the Department of Commerce has failed to set-aside at least 45% of the funds for private rental housing payments, the Office of Financial Management (OFM) must receive a corrective action plan from the department and must monitor that plan for compliance for the remainder of the fiscal year. If the department is out of compliance in any month during that period, OFM must withhold a portion of the department's expenditures equal to that made during the month that the department was not in compliance.
  • Requires that the Office of Financial Management secure a yearly independent performance audit of the department's data and expenditures and must include a random sampling of local governments, contractors, and housing providers. Requires that OFM meet with the department and "a landlord representative" to review the findings and that OFM provide the landlord representative with an opportunity to include written comments with the independent audit's findings. If the audit finds that the department has failed to set-aside 45% of the funds for for-profit landlords, then the audit must include a recommendation to the legislature on alternative means of distributing the funds. Additionally, OFM must secure another independent audit of the department's use of the funds which will include recommendations for policy and "operational improvements" on the use of the funds by counties and by the department. The report is due by December 1, 2016.
  • Requires local governments receiving the funds to maintain and distribute an interested landlord list and to take reasonable efforts to require local providers to conduct quarterly outreach to private for-profit landlords about opportunities to rent to the homeless.
  • Requires the department to convene a stakeholder group that includes real estate and private for-profit landlord representatives to find a new funding source that does not include a surcharge on document recording fees. The stakeholder group must be convened by 2017 and must submit a report to the legislature by December 1, 2017.

The Housing Alliance will be closely monitoring how all the new requirements play out.

Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles (36th LD-Seattle) pointing out the highly problematic bill language containing the 45% quota for for-profit landlords (specifically excluding nonprofits with housing).
 

Majority Coalition Caucus Refuses to Pass Capital Budget

The Senate leadership refused to pass a Supplemental Capital Budget, thus disappointing stakeholders of all political persuasions. It was the first time since 1996 that such an opportunity was lost. The lack of a supplemental capital budget means that the we lose $5 million for energy efficient affordable housing, $2 million for weatherization, $6 million for capital projects serving people with chronic mental illness, and the earmarks for a handful of affordable housing projects.

The Housing Alliance will be working throughout the interim to deepen support for affordable housing among a variety of lawmakers. Stay tuned.
 

Final Supplemental Operating Budget

Here is a quick overview of how the final budget impacted key programs:

Housing and Essential Needs Program (HEN)

- No changes in program or funding.

Aged, Blind & Disabled Program (ABD)

 $850,000 in savings from SB 6573 swept to general fund.

HEN Incapacity Exams

 $600,000 in assumed Affordable Care Act savings swept to general fund.

Homeless Certification Pilot

 $26,000 from Home Security Fund used to fund two-year pilot based on the concept in HB 2415.

Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)

Approximately $5.8 million was reinvested into TANF programs. Highlights include funding for:

  1. A 15% incentive payment for TANF households that participate in their individual responsibility plan for 20 hours or more a week.
  2. Modifying the AREN program from a $750 lifetime maximum to a $750 yearly maximum (AREN = Additional Requirements for Emergent Needs and is a program that provides emergency rent or utility assistance to TANF clients.
  3. Creating a Rapid Re-housing home visit/education pilot for homeless WorkFirst recipients.

An important TANF bill also passed in the last hours of the session. Here’s the summary from Laurie Lippold of Partners for Our Children.

HB 2585, the Kinship Child-Only TANF Bill, passed shortly before Sine Die (official adjournment of session). This bill remedies an eligibility inequity for relatives receiving child-only TANF and was essentially dead. With the "it's-not-over-'til-it's-over" mentality, advocacy continued. And in the end, the bill passed the Senate 48-0 with one excused. Now more caregivers will be eligible for child-only TANF funding to help support their families in times of need.

The Housing Alliance will be posting a blog update in the next week with more details on how TANF fared this session. Stay tuned!

   
We posted the left image on Facebook, once Sen. Angel killed ESHB 2368.
We then posted the right image after we learned about the four-year surcharge extension!

 

Extended Foster Care Bill

The Extended Foster Care Bill was one of the Housing Alliance’s support items, led by the The Mockingbird Society. Here’s another update from Laurie Lippold about how this bill, like the Document Recording Fee Bill came back from the dead to eventually get passed!

Again, the phrase "it's not over 'til it's over" could not have been truer than it was this session. By all accounts, HB 2335, the Extended Foster Care Bill, died in Senate Ways and Means. But through hard work and the commitment of a number of legislative champions, the bill passed shortly before Sine Die. Providing this extra support until age 21 has the potential to significantly improve outcomes for these young adults.

The final bill does the following:

  • Expands eligibility criteria to allow a youth to request extended foster care services if the youth engages in employment for 80 hours or more per month.
  • Limits expenditures on the new category of extended foster care to the funding provided specifically for this purpose.
  • Adds an effective date of March 1, 2015.

Special thanks to Laurie and to Jim Theofelis from The Mockingbird Society for their amazing advocacy for children in foster care.
 

The Interim: A Great Opportunity to Advancing Affordable Housing and Homelessness Issues

The interim is a strategic time to educate your lawmakers to deepen their support of our issues. The Housing Alliance is putting together an interim workbook (stay tuned for more details). But in the meantime, we encourage you to start thinking about doing some or all of the following:

  • If you work at an affordable housing organization, invite all your local lawmakers to tour your homes or of the site that you wish to build a future project. We can help you prepare fact sheets about local need and provide any other support you may want.
  • Invite your legislators to meet at your local shelter or where you meet clients. Share with them the realities that people in their district are facing and consider inviting someone directly impacted by your services to join you. The Housing Alliance can provide support, especially in prepping people to share their stories.
  • When you meet with lawmakers, be sure to involve your board. This can both help to educate your board on how decisions made in Olympia and in D.C. impact your organization's efforts, while also educating lawmakers from a variety of perspectives.
  • If you are an individual advocate, unaffiliated with an organization, please also consider meeting with your lawmaker to tell them why you care about ending homelessness and expanding access to affordable housing. The Housing Alliance can support you and provide talking points.

Again, thank you for being an advocate and for taking action this session. As the passage of ESSB 5875 attests, advocacy can achieve the impossible. Let's keep it up and and make more progress to expand access to affordable housing and to end homelessness. Housing Advocates have a lot to do during the interim to build more legislative champions. Our sister organization, the Washington Housing Alliance Action Fund will also be very active this summer and fall.

To learn more, sign up for updates and news by clicking here.

 


 

The Week in Housing Advocacy - Week 7

Michele Thomas, Director of Policy & Advocacy
Ben Miksch, Affordable Housing Policy & Advocacy Specialist
Kate Baber, Homeless Policy & Advocacy Specialist

Last week was so full of ups and downs, so full of developments, twists, and turns, that it is really hard to believe all the action was packed into just five days.

Monday
The week started with the release of the Senate Operating and Capital Budgets with a mysterious placeholder for a bill with no content about the Housing & Essential Needs (HEN) and Aged, Blind & Disabled (ABD) programs (see below for an explanation).

Tuesday
ESHB 2368, the Homeless Housing & Assistance Surcharge Bill (aka the Document Recording Fee Bill), was heard in the Senate.

Wednesday
The House released their budgets with a very disappointing Housing Trust Fund allocation.

Thursday
The Senate Financial Institutions, Housing & Insurance Committee heard SHB 2537, the Fair Tenant Screening Act. Then that same committee failed to vote on ESHB 2368 when Senator Jan Angel (R-27th LD) refused to allow a vote.

Friday
Senator Sharon Nelson (D-34th LD) attempted a dramatic floor procedure called a “Ninth Order” to force a vote on ESHB 2368. It failed, but it raised the stakes and the profile of the bill dramatically.

And all week, impressive numbers of advocates across the state were taking action to tell lawmakers to do the right thing. The week of action culminated on Friday with a Capitol Call-in Day of Affordable Housing and Homelessness Action. By midday, so many people had joined that the state hotline operators reported a huge volume of calls.

 

Take Action: Continue the Calls!

With less than two weeks left (session is scheduled to end on March 13), we’ve got to keep the pressure on our lawmakers to invest deeper in the Housing Trust Fund and to pass ESHB 2368 without significant compromises! If you haven’t taken action yet (or lately) please do today. It isn’t too late to call. If you already called on Friday, please find at least one person today that didn’t, and ask them to call. Share with them how easy it was and offer to stand by their side while they make the call themselves. Here is the phone number and sample script:

Call 1.800.562.6000 between 8:00am-8:00pm and leave one message for all of your lawmakers (including the Governor):

"Please make sure the homeless housing and assistance surcharge fees don’t sunset by supporting E-S-H-B 2368. And neither the House nor the Senate Capital Budget invests enough in affordable housing. Please help ensure all Washington residents have opportunities for safe, healthy affordable homes by making a deeper investment in affordable housing."

Read on for detailed updates (and don’t miss the update on the Document Recording Fee Bill).

 

Special Thank-Yous

  • Dave Finet from the Opportunity Council who drove from snowy Bellingham *twice* to testify for the Document Recording Fee Bill and for the Housing Trust Fund.
  • Thomas Green who came for the third time this session to share his personal story to illustrate the importance of the Fair Tenant Screening Act.
  • All the dedicated Vancouver advocates, including Andy Silver and Craig Lyons who have gone above and beyond to organize their community and educate their lawmakers to pass the Document Recording Fee Bill!

And again, thanks for being an advocate for affordable housing and ending homelessness.

 

The Housing Trust Fund

The Housing Alliance was extremely disappointed with both the House and Senate Capital Budgets. Although the Senate’s lack of any appropriation was no surprise, the House’s low appropriation was. We knew that the capacity of the Supplemental Capital Budget was very low, but we had hoped for a deeper investment.

The House budget allocated $5 million for energy efficient housing (this was originally in the governor’s budget). The House also allocates $2 million for weatherization of homes for low-income homeowners. This program pays for weatherization specialists to perform air-sealing work, to add insulation, to seal leaky duct seams, and to replace inefficient appliances in the homes of low-income residents. And the House budget also includes a $6 million pot that housing for people with chronic mental illness can apply for (although they will compete with a large list of other important capital needs related to treatment for people with mental illness). Additionally, the House also funds a handful of individual projects, including a King County Housing Authority project called Vantage Point.

We also have a new budget tracking tool that allows you to quickly compare all three budget proposals.

 

Housing and Essential Needs/ Aged, Blind & Disabled and the Mysterious Bill Unveiled

The House of Representatives’ supplemental budget proposal makes no changes to the Housing & Essential Needs (HEN) and the Aged, Blind & Disabled (ABD) programs that offer various types of assistance to people with long- and short-term disabilities. The 2013-2015 Biennial Operating Budget’s HEN and ABD appropriations are carried forward.

A collective sigh of relief was exhaled across the state last week when the Senate’s Operating Budget made no attempt to gut HEN and ABD. Another sigh of relief happened when the content of a mysterious new bill was revealed on Tuesday.

The bill in question was SB 6573The Senate’s supplemental budget proposal assumes the passage of this bill. Senate Bill 6573 basically changes the definition of disability for the HEN and ABD programs. If passed, this bill would result in $850,000 in ABD and Medicaid savings due to ABD recipients moving from ABD to HEN, and then from “Presumptive SSI” Medicaid to “expansion” Medicaid (that’s the Medicaid that has been expanded thanks to the Affordable Care Act). The Senate proposes to transfer this savings to the Operating Budget’s General Fund. We support SB 6573, but believe the savings should be reinvested into HEN to accommodate the resulting pressure on the HEN caseload. This is especially important since HEN is nearly at capacity and may not be able to serve a larger caseload without additional resources.

The Senate’s budget proposal also assumes $600,000 in HEN and ABD incapacity exam savings due to Medicaid expansion. This savings is transferred to the operating budget’s general fund. We are concerned that this saving assumption is too high, and we believe any savings should be reinvested back into HEN and ABD rather than the general fund.

The Housing Alliance urges the legislature to pass SB 6573 and to reinvest its savings into HEN. Any incapacity exam savings should be reinvested back into HEN and ABD. 

 

 

SHB 2537 - The Fair Tenant Screening Act

SHB 2537 by Representative June Robinson (38th LD) had a hearing on Thursday in the Senate, but the committee chair, Senator Jan Angel (26th LD), refused to bring it up for a vote. This means that the bill has died because last Friday was the cutoff for bills to leave a policy committee. But not all is lost. The bill had a long journey and we educated a lot of lawmakers on the importance of this issue along the way. Our sponsors and allies in the legislature are frustrated by the landlord lobby’s opposition and are ready to keep the fight going in 2015. We’ve also made in-roads with some stakeholders who were previously opposed and we will hit the interim running to move this and other tenant protections forward. Representative Robinson, Senator David Frockt (46th LD), tenant advocate Thomas Green, the YWCA of Seattle/King/Snohomish Counties, Solid Ground, the Tenants Union, Columbia Legal Services, Partners for Our Children, parent testifiers Jason and Lila, and more, have all worked hard on this bill. We think it is safe to say that none of us are giving up, and we will be back in 2015 to eliminate this unfair and unnecessary barrier to housing.

 

ESHB 2368 - The Homeless Housing and Assistance Surcharge

As those of you who have read any of the flurry of news articles on this (see the list below), last week was very dramatic for this important bill. Here is a quick recap:

Thursday
ESHB 2368 was scheduled for executive session in the Senate Financial Institutions, Housing & Insurance (FIHI) Committee (being scheduled for executive session is typically needed in order to get a committee vote). But FIHI Co-chair Senator Jan Angel (26th LD) abruptly adjourned the committee before allowing a vote on it. TVW cutoff but we were able to get the audio and that recorded Senator Don Benton (17th LD), Senator Sharon Nelson (34th LD), and FIHI Co-chair Steve Hobbs (44th LD) in a heated disagreement with Senator Angel. Unfortunately, she was obstinate and would not reopen committee. Also, Senator Benton made it known at that moment that he was indeed planning on attaching a very bad amendment to the bill. This was a surprise because by all accounts he had withdrawn it. The amendment would have both fees sunset together in 2020, make the 45% set-aside of the state’s portion permanent, limit that set-aside only to for-profit landlords (explicitly excluding nonprofits), and add a host of other extremely problematic requirements.

Friday
Senator Nelson (34th LD) with her caucus colleagues, attempted a floor procedure called a “ninth order” in which a bill can be pulled straight from a committee to the floor for a vote. Unfortunately the motion failed along party lines 26 to 23, but this action raised the profile of the bill dramatically. In a statement by Senator Nelson’s caucus Senator Christine Rolfes and Senator Steve Hobbs had these fierce comments to share:

"In my district, and in districts across the state, this is the most important source of funding we have to help the homeless. People are playing politics with an issue that should be supported by everyone. There shouldn’t even be a second thought."
Senator Christine Rolfes (23rd LD)
"To simply do away with a primary source of funding that actually helps solve the homeless problem is ignorant at best and evil at worst."
Senator Steve Hobbs (44th LD)

You can also watch the Ninth Order action here:

We are not done yet! Because of both the amazing advocacy coming on this issue from all over the state and because of last week's drama, the bill has received a lot of media and public attention. This helps us enormously in our efforts to seek other means of getting the bill passed. Stay tuned for updates and next steps and please help us keep the pressure on by making a call to your lawmakers today (if you didn’t on Friday). And please get others to join you in your advocacy.

In the meantime, Senator Sharon Nelson and Senator Steve Hobbs deserve quick email of thanks for their extraordinary efforts last week. Please encourage them to keep fighting!

Click here to send a thank you email to Senator Sharon Nelson.
Click here to send a thank you email to Senator Steve Hobbs.

List of media reports about Thursday evening's FIHI drama:

Publicola - Morning Fizz: "What a Weird Evening."
Tacoma News Tribune - Shared Senate committee leadership turns contentious over homelessness money
The Stranger SLOG - 
Republican State Senator Shocks Colleagues, Kills Funding for Homeless Programs
Spokesman Review - 
Flurry of excitement in the Senate
Crosscut - Angel kills housing bill
Ballard News Tribune - Kohl-Welles appalled by Republicans' move to keep Washington Families out in the cold

 

Homeless Children’s Education Act

Thanks for our friends and advocates at the UW Children & Youth Legislative Advocacy Clinic (CAYLAC) for this update:

SB 6074 had a successful hearing last week in the House Education Committee who then passed it out unanimously. It is now in the House Rules Committee for a second reading! Likewise, HB 2373 was passed out of the Senate Committee on Early Learning & K-12 Education and is now in the Senate Rules Committee. The Senate budget included funds for the small fiscal impact of the bill, but the House budget did not.

Advocates, including the Housing Alliance, urge the House to amend their Operating Budget to include the necessary funds.

 

Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)

The House of Representative’s supplemental budget proposal reinvests $17.023 million in TANF underspend funds back into the program. This investment is an important first step to rebuilding this critical family safety net program, which was deeply cut during the Great Recession. Some of the highlights in the House budget that are closely related to homelessness and housing stability include:

  • Creates a 15% incentive payment to families who meet DSHS engagement requirements. In 2011, the TANF cash grant was cut by 15% and is now $372/month for a family of two, or just 30% of the federal poverty level. This incentive payment will provide much needed resources to families to help pay for their basic needs, including rent and utility bills.
  • Restores the Additional Requirements for Emergent Needs (AREN) assistance amount to a maximum of $750 per household per year rather than per lifetime. AREN provides emergency housing and utility assistance to struggling families and helps them avoid eviction and homelessness. This appropriation would restore a 2011 budget cut, which reduced AREN assistance to $750 per lifetime. Currently, 13.6% of TANF families are homeless, so the restoration of AREN assistance is critical.
  • Funds House Bill 2585, which will ensure kinship care providers who rely on unearned income, such as retirement income, have equal access to child-only TANF assistance. This bill will help low-income grandparents and other kinship care providers meet their families’ basic needs when they assume care of a child relative.
  • The Senate’s budget proposal reduces WorkFirst funding by $4.11 million, but does not cut the TANF cash grant. The Senate appropriates $52,000 to fund SB 6394, which expands kinship care providers’ access to child-only TANF.

The Housing Alliance urges the legislature to adopt the House of Representative’s TANF supplemental budget proposal since it makes significant investments to improve TANF families’ housing stability and economic security.

Please stay tuned for more information about our policy and budget priorities. Like last week, a lot can happen this week. And we’ll need your quick and consistent advocacy to ensure legislators do the right thing.

 


 

Our 2014 Budget Analysis

Michele Thomas, Director of Policy & Advocacy
Kate Baber, Homelessness Policy and Advocacy Specialist

For a quick comparison of each of the three budgets, check out our new Budget Tracker here.

Housing Trust Fund and the Capital Budget

Neither the House nor Senate Capital Budget invest deeply in affordable housing. The Senate budget invests nothing. The House does a lot better with a $5 million allocation for energy efficient housing (this was originally in the governor’s budget). Go here for more information on this particular budget item and search for "High Energy Efficient". The House also allocates $2 million for weatherization of homes for low-income homeowners. This program pays for weatherization specialists to perform air-sealing work, to add insulation, to seal leaky duct seams, and to replace inefficient appliances in the homes of low-income residents. And the House budget also includes a $6 million pot that housing for people with chronic mental illness can apply for (although they will compete with a large list of other important capital needs related to treatment for people with mental illness). Additionally, the House also funds a handful of individual projects including a King County Housing Authority project called Vantage Point.

The Housing Alliance urges both the House and Senate to invest deeper in affordable housing.

Housing & Essential Needs (HEN) & Aged, Blind & Disabled (ABD) Programs

The House of Representative’s supplemental budget proposal makes no changes to HEN or ABD from last year. The 2013-2015 Biennial Operating Budget’s HEN and ABD appropriations are carried forward.

The Senate’s supplemental budget proposal assumes the passage of Senate Bill 6573, which would change the definition of disability for the HEN and ABD programs. 

If passed, this bill would result in $850,000 in ABD and Medicaid savings due to ABD recipients moving from ABD to HEN, and from Presumptive SSI Medicaid to the expansion of Medicaid from the Affordable Care Act. The Senate proposes to transfer this savings to the Operating Budget’s General Fund. We support SB 6573, but believe the savings should be reinvested in HEN to accommodate the resulting HEN caseload increase. This is especially important since HEN is nearly at capacity and may not be able to serve a larger caseload of people without additional resources.

The Senate’s budget proposal also assumes $600,000 in HEN and ABD incapacity exam savings due to Medicaid expansion. This savings is transferred to the Operating Budget’s General Fund. We are concerned that this saving assumption is too high. And we believe any savings should be reinvested back into HEN and ABD rather than the general fund.

The Housing Alliance urges the legislature to pass SB 6573 and to reinvest its savings into HEN. Any incapacity exam savings should be reinvested back into HEN and ABD.

Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)

The House of Representative’s supplemental budget proposal reinvests $17.023 million in TANF underspend funds back into the program. This investment is an important first step to rebuilding this critical family safety net program, which was deeply cut during the Great Recession. Some of the highlights in the House budget that are closely related to homelessness and housing stability include:

  • Creating a 15% incentive payment to families who meet DSHS engagement requirements. In 2011, the TANF cash grant was cut by 15% and is now $372/month for a family of two, or just 30% of the federal poverty level. This incentive payment will provide much needed resources to families to help pay for their basic needs, including rent and utility bills.
  • Restoring the Additional Requirements for Emergent Needs (AREN) assistance amount to a maximum of $750 per household per year rather than per lifetime. AREN provides emergency housing and utility assistance to struggling families and helps them avoid eviction and homelessness. This appropriation would restore a 2011 budget cut, which reduced AREN assistance to $750 per lifetime. Currently, 13.6% of TANF families are homeless, so the restoration of AREN assistance is critical.
  • Funding House Bill 2585, which will ensure kinship care providers who rely on unearned income, such as retirement income, have equal access to child-only TANF assistance. This bill will help low-income grandparents and other kinship care providers meet their families’ basic needs when they assume care of a child relative.

The Senate’s budget proposal reduces WorkFirst funding by $4.11 million, but does not cut the TANF cash grant. The Senate appropriates $52,000 to fund Senate Bill 6394, which expands kinship care providers’ access to child-only TANF.

The Housing Alliance urges the legislature to adopt the House of Representative’s TANF supplemental budget proposal since it makes significant investments to improve TANF families’ housing stability and economic security.

 


 

The Week in Housing Advocacy - Week 6

Michele Thomas, Director of Policy & Advocacy

Last week started with huddles of advocates and lobbyists outside the Senate and House chambers, sending last minute pleas to lawmakers to advance or oppose bills. In the end, the House voted out over 300 bills, with the Senate voting out just over 180. Over 1,600 bills were introduced this year and many are now "dead." Though some policy bills with a state budget impact can be considered "Necessary to Implement the Budget" or NTIB and are exempt from many of the cutoffs.

Homeless Housing and Assistance Surcharge Bill (ESHB 2368) & Tenant Screening Act (SHB 2537) Updates

Even though there is only three weeks of the legislative session left to go, a lot of hurdles and developments lie ahead for affordable housing and homelessness priorities. Policy bills have to clear committees by this Friday the 28th, and then bills with a fiscal impact have to clear the fiscal committees by Monday the 3rd. Luckily, Senator Steve Hobbs (44th LD) and Senator Mark Mullet (5th LD) successfully pushed for both the Fair Tenant Screening Act (SHB 2537) and the Homeless Housing and Assistance Surcharge Bill (ESHB 2368), aka the "Document Recording Fee Bill" to be scheduled for hearings in the Senate. ESHB 2368 is set for a 1:30pm hearing on Tuesday and SHB 2537 is set for 1:30pm on Thursday. Tune in to TVW to watch the hearings live. Advocates and service providers are lined up to testify and will share their stories on why these bills are so important.

Double Action Advocacy!

Senate Policy Action 
House Budget Action

ESHB 2368 (Homeless Housing & Assistance Surcharge) and SHB 2537 (fair & portable tenant screening reports) are still in the Senate. Help us get these passed out. And the House is set to release their budgets this week. Tell your representatives you support a sizable investment in the Housing Trust Fund.  Click here to start the email process.

And please send this link around so others like you can take action: http://bit.ly/1fbYgaD

Once/if the bills clear that committee, the Fair Tenant Screening Act will advance to the Senate Rules Committee, and the Surcharge Bill will advance to Senate Ways and Means. Stay tuned to the Housing Alliance all week for updates.

Everyone Should Have the Opportunity to Live in a Safe, Healthy, & Affordable Home

With the Senate and House budgets expected to be released this week, we will finally learn what each chamber has in store for the Housing Trust Fund. The size of the Capital Budget has been a moving target, and many were waiting for last week's official revenue forecast to see if any significant changes were in store to the previous revenue projections. The budget news was relatively goodno negative surprises because the revenue is coming in closely to what was last projected. There is a small (in state budget terms) increase of $30 million expected, and it is certainly good news that the state keeps heading in the direction of growth rather than the painful budget deficits of so many previous cycles.

Stay tuned for updates on the Housing Trust Fund and on the other important budget related programs like Aged, Blind and Disabled and Housing & Essential Needs.

A Week of Action!

This week is a critical week to make your voice heard. Please join us in pushing for the Senate to pass the Fair Tenant Screening Act and the Homeless Housing and Assistance Surcharge Bill and for both chambers to support a deep investment in the Housing Trust Fund!

Here is what you can do this week:

Monday
Email your elected officials today. We make it easy to do. Click here to start. Then spread the word on Facebook and Twitter using this link: http://bit.ly/1fbYgaD

Make sure your friends, colleagues and family join you in advocacy. Also, watch for budget updates. The Senate is expected to release their budgets today, Monday.

Tuesday
If you work at or are on the board of a nonprofit or a company committed to expanding affordable housing and ending homelessness, then send an organizational letter to local lawmakers. We have sample letters for the Housing Trust Fund and for the Homeless Housing and Assistance Surcharge Bill ready to go.

Click here to download the Sample ESHB 2368 Organizational Letter.
Click here to download the Sample HTF Supplemental Appropriation Organizational Letter.
Please email Ben if you need anything else (and please send us a copy of the letter!)

Wednesday
Get ready for Friday's Affordable Housing and Homelessness Call-in Day! Spread the word to your colleagues and on social media! Also, watch for budget updates. The House is expected to release their budgets this Wednesday.
Thursday
Rest your fingers and get ready to call the capitol tomorrow!

Friday
Call 1.800.562.6000 between 8:00am-8:00pm and ask all of your lawmakers to:

"Please make sure the homeless housing and assistance surcharge fees don’t sunset by supporting ESHB 2368. And neither the House nor the Senate Capital Budget invests enough in affordable housing. Please help ensure all Washington residents have opportunities for safe, healthy affordable homes by making a deeper investment in affordable housing." *

*Script updated February 27, 2014, 9:46pm.

Once you've made your call, please tell the world that you took action by proudly displaying our "I-am-an-awesome-advocate badge" on the square photo of your Facebook profile and Twitter page. It's easy:

1. Download the image below by dragging it from here to your desktop or by right-click on it and then clicking "save image as" and saving it on your desktop.

2. Then upload the image to the square picture in Facebook and...
 
...the only picture available to you in Twitter.

3. Don't forget to follow-up with your friends and get them to make calls and change their photos too.

Special thanks to Stephanie Velasco at Housing Development Consortium of Seattle/King County for designing the graphic!

Thank you again for all you are doing to advance affordable housing and homelessness issues this year. Advocates across the state have turned the notch up this session and it is working! From Vancouver to Yakima, to Spokane and Bellingham and more, you are being heard by your lawmakers. We've had more bipartisan support this year than in recent memory. And the fact that our issues are still moving is a testament to the deep dedication of all of you. Keep it going!


Never too early to start advocating!

 


 

Why the Homeless Housing Assistance Surcharge Sunset CANNOT Wait!

Ben Miksch, Affordable Housing Policy and Advocacy Specialist

ESHB 2368 – the bill to remove the sunset on the Homeless Housing Assistance Surcharge (a.k.a. document recording fees) – is currently sitting in the Senate Financial Institutions, Housing & Insurance Committee awaiting a hearing. A number of hurdles still stand in the way of Governor Jay Inslee signing the legislation into law. And the amount of time we have to clear those hurdles is shrinking quickly.

Housing advocates all over the state are doing a great job talking to legislators about the importance of preventing the sunsets of over 60% of funding for homeless housing in every county. You’ve also been great at educating lawmakers about how the cuts would shut the doors at emergency cold weather drop-in centers, domestic violence shelters, housing for homeless youth, and effective, life-saving programs throughout the state. But a lot of legislators have responded with something along these lines:

"This is a really important issue and I support it. But the sunset isn’t until July 2015. Can’t we wait until next year?”

That’s not an unreasonable question if you’re working off of a timeline that looks a little like this:

But that timeline isn’t the whole picture. The truth is if ESHB 2368 isn't passed this year, programs will have to implement cuts before the legislature has a chance to pass a bill in 2015.

Homeless Housing Assistance Surcharge revenues are awarded on a competitive basis. The next funding rounds will begin to take place this fall (2014) in most counties. Even if passing a bill in the 2015 Legislative Session was a sure thing, counties aren't able to contract for services based on what the law might be. Funding projections must be based on current law and that means a cut of $10 on July 2015 and of another $20 in July 2017.

That means this fall, local communities will have to start preparing for cuts to be implemented in early 2015.

This is what the timeline really looks like:

The legislature must act now if they want to prevent vulnerable populations like veterans, people living with mental illness, domestic violence survivors, homeless families, and others from being impacted by those cuts.

Take action! Tell your legislators ESHB 2368 can’t wait until next year!

If you need to see the numbers on how badly the cuts will be for state and county homelessness funding, check out this handout here that also summarizes the urgency to get ESHB 2368 passed this session.

The Housing Alliance is circulating a sample letter for organizations to fill out to send to their legislators. We don’t have a lot of time on this! If your organization is willing to fill out a letter, especially if your organization uses these fees to provide services to your community, please contact me at benm(at)wliha(dot)org as soon as you can.

CORRECTION: The first timeline had incorrect years listed. They are correct now.


 

The Week in Housing Advocacy - Week 5

Michele Thomas, Director of Policy and Advocacy

The legislative session has officially passed the halfway mark. So, last week was filled with a flurry of activity as advocates, lobbyists, and legislators worked to make sure their bills passed the fiscal committee cutoff of last Tuesday and then to make sure their bills passed the Senate or House floor later in the week. Monday and Tuesday of this week will be especially busy in Olympia because the house of origin cutoff is Tuesday the 18th. This means that bills must be voted on in their chamber of origin (either the House or the Senate) by Tuesday in order to keep moving. Luckily, the Housing Alliance's two policy bills SHB 2537 (the Fair Tenant Screening Act) and ESHB 2368 (ending the sunsets of homeless housing and assistance surcharges) both passed the House Floor on Thursday the 13th. This means that they are still alive. Their next hurdle will be in the Senate. Both have to be heard and passed out of the Senate Financial Institutions, Housing & Insurance Committee by Friday, February 28 in order to keep moving. (Read below for more on both these bills.)

Housing Trust Fund and Other Budget Issues

The fate of budget related issues like the Housing Trust Fund and the Housing & Essential Needs and Aged, Blind & Disabled programs all are unknown until the legislature releases the first budgets. We expect to see budgets sometime around Monday, February 24. Stay tuned for updates and action alerts as we get closer. But please continue to advocate and educate your lawmakers on the importance of funding the Housing Trust Fund and the continuing need for safety net programs.

Advocacy Alert: Time to Move the Senate to Action

ESHB 2368 (document recording fees) and SHB 2537 (fair & portable tenant screening reports) are headed to the Senate. As you may have heard, these bills are going to have a challenging time in that chamber. But it doesn't have to be this way, especially with your consistent advocacy!  Start by clicking here.

And please send this link around so others like you can take action: http://bit.ly/1kKHsjb


Thanks to Firesteel for this photo.

ESHB 2368 - Regarding Homeless Housing and Assistance Surcharges

Last Thursday was a roller coaster ride for this bill. The day started out with several confirmed Republican yes votes on an unamended version. However, it ended with a somewhat different set of seven Republican supporters and a significant and sudden floor amendment on the bill. In the end, the bill passed the House around 5:00pm with 62 in favor and 36 against. See below for the roll call to learn how your lawmaker voted.

What you need to know about the ESHB 2368 floor amendment

The amendment requires that 45% of the state's portion of the homeless housing and assistance surcharge be permanently set-aside for the private rental market. Also, if the Department of Commerce fails to meet reporting requirements outlined in the bill, the Office of Financial Management may hold all of the department's funds collected from this fee. This is different than the amendment in the Senate. Most strikingly is that the Senate version still allowed a sunset of the fees, while this House amendment eliminates the sunsets. (The Senate version of the bill is dead because it didn't pass out of Senate Ways and Means by Tuesday's deadline.)

The Housing Alliance would have preferred that the unamended version be passed out of the House. But we hope the Senate will accept the amendments and that they ask for no other concessions.

Bad news statewide if ESHB 2368 doesn’t pass…

If this bill fails to pass this year, many communities will begin to feel cuts in early 2015. This is because document recording fee revenues are awarded on a competitive basis. The next funding rounds take place fall of 2014 in most communities. With a July 2015 sunset looming, counties cannot contract for services that may not have a funding source. Their funding projections must be based on current law. This means that this fall, many local communities will begin to prepare for the cuts, which will be implemented in early 2015. The cuts will severely impact vulnerable populations like veterans, folks living with mental illness, domestic violence survivors, homeless families, and more.

Seven Republican lawmakers crossed the aisle to support this bill. Led by Representative Maureen Walsh (16th LD) who is a co-sponsor of the bill, they bravely did the right thing and voted yes to support the services needed to prevent and end homelessness. Please help us thank them. Click each of the names below to send a message of thanks, especially to Representative Walsh for her leadership.

Maureen Walsh Jesse Young
Hans Zeiger Liz Pike
Linda Koshmar Mike Hope
Drew MacEwen  

 

That’s Why You Need to Take Action!

Take action today to urge the Senate to support this bill! The bill must be passed out of the Financial Institutions, Housing & Insurance Committee by Friday, February 28 in order to keep moving. And please send the action alert to your colleagues, friends, and families.

Use this link: http://bit.ly/1kKHsjb

Consider using your Facebook page to spread the word. The Housing Alliance have been getting messages lately from new advocates saying they've learned about the important opportunities for action via their Facebook friends. Keep spreading the word!

How your lawmaker voted on ESHB 2368

Yeas: 62 Nays: 36 Absent: 0 Excused: 0

Voting Yea: Representative Appleton, Bergquist, Blake, Carlyle, Clibborn, Cody, Dunshee, Farrell, Fey, Fitzgibbon, Freeman, Goodman, Green, Gregerson, Habib, Haigh, Hansen, Hope, Hudgins, S. Hunt, Hunter, Hurst, Jinkins, Kagi, Kirby, Kochmar, Lytton, MacEwen, Moeller, Morrell, Morris, Moscoso, Ormsby, Ortiz-Self, Orwall, Pettigrew, Pike, Pollet, Reykdal, Riccelli, Roberts, Robinson, Ryu, Santos, Sawyer, Seaquist, Sells, Senn, Springer, Stanford, Stonier, Sullivan, Takko, Tarleton, Tharinger, Van De Wege, Walkinshaw, Walsh, Wylie, Young, Zeiger & Mr. Speaker.

Voting Nay: Representative Buys, Chandler, Christian, Condotta, Dahlquist, DeBolt, Fagan, Haler, Hargrove, Harris, Hawkins, Hayes, Holy, G. Hunt, Johnson, Klippert, Kretz, Kristiansen, Magendanz, Manweller, Muri, Nealey, Orcutt, Overstreet, Parker, Rodne, Ross, Schmick, Scott, Shea, Short, Smith, Taylor, Vick, Warnick & Wilcox.

 

SHB 2537 - The Fair Tenant Screening Act

The House version of the Fair Tenant Screening Act passed out of the House on Thursday the 13th on an almost party-line vote of 53 to 45. The floor debate included a powerful introduction by the prime sponsor Representative June Robinson (38th LD) and a passionate rebuttal to bill opponents by Representative Drew Hansen (23rd LD). Representative Hansen responded to misleading and inaccurate remarks by Representative Jay Rodne (5th LD). Representative Hansen's floor speech specifically talked about the tenant testimony he heard earlier in the month. He noted the stories they shared and said, "This bill is about fairness." Representative Hansen's speech is at 00:56:15.

Please take a second to send Representatives Robinson and Hansen notes of thanks!

June Robinson Drew Hansen

The bill faces significant hurdles in the Senate. Advocacy is going to be more important than ever. Take action now to ask your Senator to pass the Fair Tenant Screening Act this year!

How your lawmaker voted on SHB 2537

Yeas: 53 Nays: 45 Absent: 0 Excused: 0

Voting Yea: Representative Appleton, Bergquist, Blake, Carlyle, Clibborn, Cody, Dunshee, Farrell, Fey, Fitzgibbon, Freeman, Goodman, Green, Gregerson, Habib, Hansen, Hope, Hudgins, S. Hunt, Hunter, Jinkins, Kagi, Kirby, Lytton, Moeller, Morrell, Morris, Moscoso, Ormsby, Ortiz-Self, Orwall, Pettigrew, Pollet, Reykdal, Riccelli, Roberts, Robinson, Ryu, Santos, Sawyer, Seaquist, Sells, Senn, Springer, Stanford, Stonier, Sullivan, Takko, Tarleton, Tharinger, Van De Wege, Walkinshaw, Mr. Speaker

Voting Nay: Representative Buys, Chandler, Christian, Condotta, Dahlquist, DeBolt, Fagan, Haigh, Haler, Hargrove, Harris, Hawkins, Hayes, Holy, G. Hunt, Hurst, Johnson, Klippert, Kochmar, Kretz, Kristiansen, MacEwen, Magendanz, Manweller, Muri, Nealey, Orcutt, Overstreet, Parker, Pike, Rodne, Ross, Schmick, Scott, Shea, Short, Smith, Taylor, Vick, Walsh, Warnick, Wilcox, Wylie, Young, Zeiger

 

Updates on Housing Alliance Support and Oppose bills

SB 6143 - All housing should be habitable

The Housing Alliance opposes SB 6143, which seeks to eliminate the common law principle that all rental units have to be habitable. The principle, referred to as the Warranty of Habitability, has been in effect before the residential landlord tenant act was created and requires that rental units meet the most basic health and safety standards. Unfortunately, the bill was voted out of the Senate on Friday the 14 on a party-line vote of 26 yeas, 21 nays, and 2 excused. You can listen to the passionate floor debate below.

Senators Jamie Pedersen (43rd LD) and Sharon Nelson (34th LD) especially deserve thanks for their strong support for safe, healthy housing. Please send them a quick note!

Jamie Pederson Sharon Nelson

SSB 6074 and SHB 2373 - The Homeless Student Education Act

The Homeless Student Education Act Bills SSB 6074 and SHB 2373, are moving swiftly along! The House version passed on Friday with a very strong vote of 92 - 4, and the Senate version passed earlier in the week unanimously. The housing pilot bills HB 2763 and SB 6365 died though. You can learn more about the bills here.

HB 2335 and SB 6101 - Extended Foster Care

Thanks to Laurie Lippold and Partners for Our Children for their hard work and for this update:
HB 2335 and SB 6101 would have extended foster care for youth from the age of 18 to 21 if they were employed at least 80 hours per month or had a documented medical condition.  Although they were heard, the extended foster care bills did not make it out of either fiscal committee. According to a recent report put out by the Department of Social and Health Services Research and Data Analysis, 35 percent of youth in Washington State who age out of care at age 18 experience homelessness within one year. These bills would have ensured that more youth aging out of care have the opportunity to maintain safe housing until age 21. There's no giving up, however, and if there truly is no way to move forward with Extended Foster Care in 2014, 2015 isn't far away!

HB 2723 - Foreclosure Fairness Act

HB 2723 passed the House unanimously on Thursday the 13. This was newly appointed Representative Mia Gregerson's (33rd LD) first bill to be passed and it makes important updates and fixes to the Foreclosure Fairness Act. You can learn more about the specifics of the bill here.

HB 1024 - Service Animals and Fair Housing

HB 1024, which brings the state's definition of service animals in line with the federal definition, is on the House floor and needs a vote by Tuesday's deadline! Stay tuned and watch the Housing Alliance's bill tracker for updates.

Thank you for being an advocate! It is your persistence and dedication that ensure our lawmakers pass the bills and funding needed to prevent and end homelessness. We've already come a long way in this fast, short session. Please keep weighing in and spreading the word. As Representative Hansen's floor speech on the Fair Tenant Screening Act made clear, you are being heard!

 


 

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