Washington State House Democrats


House votes to retain key tool in effort to end homelessness

OLYMPIA – The state House of Representatives gave its OK Thursday (May 25) afternoon to legislation that will provide cities, counties, and the state with tens of millions of dollars to reduce homelessness and increase a dwindling supply of affordable housing.

The Legislature authorized a surcharge on real-estate documents some 12 years ago, with the funds supporting the state’s Home Security Fund. Thirty dollars of the surcharge, which now stands at $48, was set to expire in 2019, but HB 1570, sponsored by Rep. Nicole Macri (D-43, Seattle), removes that sunset date. It also, for the first time, gives Washington counties the option of setting an additional surcharge to aid local efforts.

Since the surcharge was first instituted, Washington has seen a per-capita decrease in homelessness of nearly 20 percent.  In raw numbers, however, the actual number of homeless persons has climbed in recent years, and now, Macri said, “too many K-12 students leave school not knowing where their family will sleep that night – nearly 40,000 last year.

“We need to get back on track. The surcharge invests in a range of interventions including domestic violence programs, services for homeless youth and young adults, permanent supportive housing, and emergency shelter. The dedicated revenue stream allows the state to invest in these solutions without tapping the overburdened general fund.”

After its passage in the House, Macri’s bill was transmitted to the Senate.  The Legislature is currently on day three of its 30-day second special session, which is slated to adjourn on June 21.