Collaboration for Refugee Support, Rent Stabilization, & Upcoming Mini Town Hall!

Dear friends and neighbors, 

Thank you to those who participated in our survey on controversial bills. You can find the results here. Please take a moment to share your insights in our latest education survey. 

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Thanks again for your engagement! Read on for information about Washington’s housing crisis, refugee support initiatives, the Washington State Green Schools Program, and an upcoming virtual Mini Town Hall, Friday, February 16th. (more details in the next newsletter) 

Supporting Refugees: A Call to Action

In the face of a pressing humanitarian crisis at the refugee camp in Tukwila’s Riverton Park United Methodist Church, our community must come together to address the urgent needs of those seeking refuge. Currently, more than 800 refugees have passed through the camp, surpassing the initial estimate of 400 residents by late 2023. The situation is critical, with concerns ranging from uneven resource distribution to inadequate safety measures and persisting health risks. 

Initiatives are underway to alleviate the crisis, and it’s heartening to see the collaborative efforts taking place. Partnerships have formed to ensure a more comprehensive and effective response. Our collective commitment is evident as various organizations and individuals work hand in hand to provide support, education, and training to those in need. 

In legislative strides, Representative Gregerson‘s House Bill 2368 emphasizes the importance of addressing the refugee crisis by streamlining and enhancing the support system for immigrants and refugees in Washington. By addressing coordination, administration of services, and the development of a comprehensive State Plan, the bill seeks to ensure a more effective and integrated approach to refugee resettlement and immigrant support.  

The State Legislature has also increased funding for the Office of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance (ORIA) and a grant program. An allocation of $8 million has been set aside to promote economic stability through multifaceted support measures. 

Acknowledging the severity of the situation, the City of Tukwila declared a humanitarian crisis in October 2023. By December 6th, King County and Tukwila announced funding for up to 100 hotel rooms, offering immediate relief for individuals living in or around the makeshift refugee camp. This initiative is part of broader efforts to establish comprehensive supports and services for those affected. 

As we navigate this global crisis, Washington reaffirms its commitment to supporting refugees. Our rich history of welcoming over 140,000 refugees in five decades reflects our understanding of the transformative power of assistance, offering solace and a new beginning to those who seek it. Together, let’s continue working towards a more inclusive and supportive community for all. 

Addressing Housing Affordability: Our Commitment to Real Solutions

In the face of a mounting housing crisis, the need for rent stabilization in Washington has become more critical than ever. The statistics from 2019 paint a stark reality: nearly half of Washington renters are allocating 30% or more of their income to housing, with over 20% dedicating half or more of their income solely to housing expenses. This alarming trend is not confined to a specific demographic; it affects renters across the board, from residential to manufactured home tenants. 

The current trajectory of rental costs is nothing short of alarming, with residential and manufactured home renters alike grappling with skyrocketing expenses. What’s at stake is not just the financial burden on tenants but the very fabric of our communities. Renters find themselves facing not only unpredictable cost increases but also the daunting prospect of impossible choices. The consequences of this crisis are far-reaching – for every $100 increase in rent, homelessness rates surge by a staggering 9%. 

This crisis disproportionately impacts vulnerable groups, including families with low incomes, individuals on fixed incomes, seniors, and communities of color. The ripple effects extend beyond financial strain, permeating the social fabric and exacerbating existing inequalities. The urgency to address this issue cannot be overstated. 

While commendable steps were taken last year by the legislature to boost housing supply, the stark reality is that this alone is insufficient to address the immediate plight of tenants. The impact of increased housing supply will take years, if not decades, to provide tangible relief to today’s renters. As we navigate the complexities of the housing market, there is an immediate need to implement measures that offer swift assistance to those grappling with the current crisis. 

In response to this pressing need, House and Senate Democrats are championing House Bill 2114, aiming to enact rent stabilization. This legislative initiative recognizes the urgency of the situation and acknowledges that stability and predictability in rental costs are fundamental rights that every tenant deserves. 


Thank you so much for reading!  


Bergquist signature

Rep. Steve Bergquist