January marks the start of the Washington State Legislative session and another tremendous opportunity for state leaders to pass budgets and policies that will help all of our neighbors access safe and affordable places to live.
In the last session, housing advocates were able to secure an unprecedented $850 million to address our homelessness and housing crisis. Advocates are hard at work, using this funding to build housing and provide services to communities across the state.
Washington state continues to lead the nation in preventing and ending youth homelessness. Our Legislature strongly supported the work of the Office of Homeless Youth last session and funded innovative programs such as the Anchor Community Initiative, which is drastically reducing youth and young adult homelessness in communities across the state.
This level of investment matches what voters continue to tell us—that housing and homelessness are the top issues on which they want state lawmakers to work.
In December, the Campion Advocacy Fund partnered with Challenge Seattle on polling that shows the following:
- Homelessness continues to be voters’ top concern
- Voters recognize we need an all-hands on deck approach, and that state and local governments, business, and the nonprofit sector can and should be doing more
- Two-thirds of Washington voters say that homelessness has directly impacted their household
- There is strong support for increased funding to address homelessness and affordable housing
- Many policy proposals in front of the Legislature to reduce homelessness and address affordable housing have strong support
This session, we are asking the Legislature to build on their investments and continue to think boldly on policies and funding that will help more people in our state secure stable housing. Some of the programs we will be advocating for include:
- Increased investments in the Housing Trust Fund—This is the largest and most effective program that supports constructing and preserving deeply affordable housing that moves people out of homelessness.
- Closing the gap in the Document Recording Fee—This real estate fee funds homelessness services in every county in our state and is declining in revenue as a result of high interest rates. The Legislature has an opportunity to shore up the funding from this fee on real estate transactions to ensure communities don’t receive a cut in funding for services.
- Continuing to support innovation around youth homelessness— The Anchor Community Initiative is a national model on how to end youth and young adult homelessness that leverages lived expertise, data-driven decision making, and centers equity. The Housing Prevention and Diversion Fund provides flexible funding to help young people secure housing and has been one of the most successful housing interventions in the communities where it was piloted. Both programs are seeking a continuation and expansion this year.
These programs are just a few of the critical pieces needed for our state to continue its progress towards becoming a place where everyone has access to housing. Please join us in showing your support for this critical funding during session. For more information on these policy priorities, visit our partners, the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance and A Way Home Washington.