Ensuring Social Justice
Achieve policies and funding necessary to address the homelessness crisis and assure an adequate supply of affordable housing for middle-to-low income people.
2020 Legislative Session Expectations
(Interested in the 2019 Session Recap? Click Here)
Homelessness is a Big Issue this Session
During the 2019 legislative session, two tracks of work on housing were pursued. One was a series of briefings for legislators to inform them of the factors associated with homelessness. The other was a wide-ranging set of measures to address affordable housing and homelessness. Bills were passed in 2019 that increased funding and funding options for affordable housing; changed the framework of regulations to increase affordable housing; increased protection for tenants, provided financial support to avoid evictions, and changed eviction rules to further protect tenants; and provided support specifically for youth experiencing homelessness. Additionally, the Housing and Essential Needs program received substantial additional funding.
One of the most significant measures in 2019 was a record infusion of funding to the Housing Trust Fund, from which private non-profit housing organizations may draw to increase affordable housing stock. What did not pass in 2019 was the capital gains tax proposal, which was critical for action to address the income inequality causation of homelessness for many people.
This year, the Governor has proposed intensive work and funding to dramatically reduce homelessness within the next two years. This package relies on reappropriating funds from the current reserves called the “rainy day” fund and would require a 2/3 vote to make those fund transfers. This is not considered to survive at the scale he has proposed, but League testified in favor of it. The account is currently at $2.5 billion, so the proposed $300 million withdrawal would not substantially affect the ability to respond to an economic downturn or other emergencies for which the fund was established.
However, a recent Elway poll with open-ended questions elicited public feedback that homelessness is the biggest issue in Washington this year for at least 30% of the respondents. That public feedback is generating more interest among legislators to take action this year.
There is a very long list of bills under consideration, many of which League supports. Most of them were introduced in the first session of this biennium, but there are some new bills introduced this year that will likely be considered and hopefully adopted. In addition, there are a number of budget proposals that do not appear as legislation but will be budget provisos or other forms of funding in the operating and capital budgets. There will be more information about these in next week’s newsletter.
Click on Bill # for detailed information. See UPDATES below.
Bills the League Supports