Addressing affordable housing and homelessness


Helping serve food outside the Salem Warming Center on March 2nd

It’s no secret: Washington state is facing an affordable housing and homelessness crisis. No part of our state is unaffected by it. That’s why I’ve been supporting critical housing legislation this session. Every person deserves a safe and affordable place to live.

A common misconception about homelessness is that there is a subset of people who choose to be homeless, or choose to refuse services to help them exit homelessness.

The reality is that the intersecting problems of homelessness, mental health, and substance use disorder means that some people experiencing homelessness do not qualify for homelessness services because of their co-occurring conditions. It is these difficult-to-house people who are best served by the emerging gold standard in solutions to chronic homelessness, mental health, and substance use disorder—permanent supportive housing.

Permanent supportive housing provides eligible clients not only a permanent housing subsidy, but also all the services they’ll need to be successful over the long term—all within the same building. These services can include case management, medication reminders, employment assistance, mental health and substance use disorder treatment, meals, and even visits by nurses, doctors, and dentists.

While these services are all optional for residents, they are so successful there’s a backlog of people who want to get off the streets and live in these communities. Once someone living unsheltered sees that permanent supportive housing offers freedom and dignity, they often want in.

The operating and capital budgets passed by the House earlier this session work in tandem to expand this model. In these last days of the session as our budget process wraps up, I’ll keep pushing to protect and increase these important investments for our community.

Two bills moving to the governor’s desk that will help protect some of our most vulnerable families who are at risk of housing insecurity are:

More notice before rent increases (HB 1440)
This bill requires property owners to give a minimum of 60 days written notice to tenants before increasing their rent. When every dollar counts in a family’s budget, this law will ensure that renters have more time to either find new housing or rearrange their finances. I co-sponsored this bill, which was signed the by governor this week.

Extending eviction notice from 3 to 14 days (SB 5600)
Evictions are a leading cause of homelessness.  I was proud to speak on the House floor in favor of this bill, which extends the current 3-day eviction notice period to pay or vacate to 14 days. The notice given to tenants will feature information about civil legal aid and the resources available to them. In addition, it requires the Attorney General to provide information about the 14-day notice on its website in 10 languages commonly used in the state. Giving renters both the information needed to avoid homelessness and more time to access those resources is a big win for Washington families.

As we work to pass solutions to the affordable housing crisis across our state, I am zeroing in on our homelessness issues in Spokane. We can do more to keep a roof over people’s heads. After a recent visit to two of our local warming shelters, it became clear to me that we need swift action to keep our friends and families safe.

It’s an honor to serve you. Please don’t hesitate to email me if you have questions, feedback, or concerns.

Best regards,

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