State leaders approve historic investments to address Washington’s homelessness crisis and to expand affordable housing for many across the state.
March 8, 2022 (Olympia, WA) – Washington state lawmakers chose to make unprecedented investments to address the crisis of homelessness in our state. The state’s Supplemental Capital Budget includes over $400 million dollars for affordable housing and homelessness, including $114 million for the Housing Trust Fund, $240 million for Rapid Housing Acquisition and $60 million for the new Apple Health and Homes program. Additional funding of $72 million for Crisis Stabilization Facilities, $79 million for weatherization for low-income homeowners and $15 million for homeless youth facilities brings the investment well over $500 million.
Investments in the Housing Trust Fund will build affordable homes statewide and will also create homeownership opportunities for low-income households. Rapid Capital Acquisition investments will be used to quickly acquire properties for shelter or for affordable housing, including permanent supportive housing which is the solution to unsheltered homelessness. $20 million of the funds in the rapid capital acquisition are specifically for rural communities, illustrating a commitment to geographic equity statewide.
House Washington, a coalition of local elected officials, business leaders and organizations, with affordable housing advocates have been advocating for the state to make bold investments into affordable housing and shelter, and to increase funding for behavioral health services.
Former Governor Chris Gregoire, and CEO of Challenge Seattle, stated, “Chronic homelessness is impacting communities in every corner of our state. To address this urgent crisis, the statewide House Washington coalition comprised of local elected officials, businesses, and housing advocates came together to advocate for new bold solutions. Governor Inslee and legislators are delivering to make progress on this complex crisis. With
hundreds of millions of new statewide investments for emergency and affordable housing, local governments and the state will be able to more rapidly house and provide treatment to individuals experiencing chronic homelessness.”
Results from a poll conducted in September 2021 by the Campion Advocacy Fund and Challenge Seattle found that 92 percent of Washington voters named homelessness and access to housing as issues state leaders should prioritize during this legislative session.
“This is what a serious commitment to ending homelessness and filling our state’s gap in affordable homes looks like,” said Rachael Myers, Executive Director of the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance. “The historic appropriations in this budget will house many thousands of people across our state. Altogether, the final biennial investment is over $734 million dollars. Affordable homes are the solution to homelessness and this budget tells Washington voters that lawmakers are stepping up to solve our state’s affordable housing crisis.”
The unprecedented level of funding in the Supplemental Capital Budget demonstrates an acknowledgement by state leaders that homelessness can be solved with affordable housing, and that state investments are a critical part of the solution.
Affordable housing literally saves lives as testimonials from residents living in affordable housing attest to:
Jennifer Bereskin, member of the Housing Alliance’s Resident Action Project in Lynnwood, WA: “As we have navigated through a global pandemic, the ability to have affordable housing ensured that I could remain safe and healthy as an Indigenous woman who is immune compromised. If not for affordable housing, my son and I would have been homeless during this pandemic. It’s with great appreciation that I am alive and well because of affordable housing. All human beings deserve housing stability that is affordable regardless of income.”
Brook Fadley, a Resident Action Project member in Vancouver, WA: “If it wasn't for affordable housing, I would still be homeless. I am fortunate to be able to have a roof over my head and to have received rental assistance to catch up on my rent due to covid related impacts. Being a recipient of rental assistance has given me another chance to remain in my affordable housing unit. These monies help many of us to get and to stay housed. Every dollar counts to ensure we become and stay housed”
The Housing Alliance and the House Washington coalition are hopeful that the final Operating Budget, which has not been released yet, will include equally strong investments in affordable housing and homelessness prevention.
ABOUT THE HOUSING ALLIANCE
The Washington Low Income Housing Alliance is the statewide advocacy organization for affordable housing and homelessness policy, leading the movement to ensure that everyone in Washington has the opportunity to live in a safe, healthy, affordable home. Learn more at www.wliha.org
ABOUT HOUSE WASHINGTON: A COALITION TO END HOMELESSNESS House Washington is a coalition of elected officials, business and community leaders, and housing advocates that are calling on state leaders to address chronic homelessness and affordable housing by making it a top priority this legislative session.