Senate approves Gutiérrez Kenney’s measure to help the homeless

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OLYMPIA—A bill that reaffirms the state’s commitment to end homelessness, introduced by Rep. Phyllis Gutiérrez Kenney back in the 2011 session, was passed out of the Senate this evening.

“This deep recession—the worst in 80 years—has pushed many people into homelessness, including those who have never experienced housing problems before,” said Gutiérrez Kenney, the Seattle Democrat who chairs the House Community & Economic Development & Housing Committee. “Homelessness has many faces; families who have faced foreclosure, veterans returning to disappearing jobs, young people exiting the foster care system.”

According to the Department of Commerce, on the day of the 2010 Annual Point in Time Count, 22,600 people were homeless in Washington State. Of the homeless, 5,441 of them were unsheltered.  OSPI reported that last school year there were over 21,800 homeless students, a 268 percent increase from the 03-04 school year. The department of Commerce also reports that each year about 91,100 people face homelessness in Washington State, and 75,300 are provided temporary housing assistance.  About 15,800 each year are not served due to limited resources.

“While there is evidence that our economy is slowly improving, the problem of homelessness in Washington could actually grow far worse before the housing market picks up again,” said Gutiérrez Kenney.

Her measure expands a highly successful program that supports local services for the homeless.  It will also assist local governments to implement their plans to end homelessness in ten years.

Without the passage of this bill, state and local homeless programs would have lost $41 million, translating in approximately 23,100 fewer homeless people being served during the next two years.

“We really can’t let that happen. I am grateful that the Senate supported this vital legislation to continue critical funding to help the homeless in these very difficult times,” Gutiérrez Kenney added.

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