OLYMPIA—To tackle the state’s crisis in homelessness and affordable housing, House Democrats are proposing a massive $100 million investment focused on getting people off the streets and into permanent housing.
“This is a huge victory for everyone concerned about families and kids sleeping out in the cold,” said Rep. Steve Tharinger (D-Port Townsend), chair of the House Capital Budget Committee and author of the proposed budget. “At the beginning of the 2020 session, the total amount we had to spend in this capital budget was only about $70 million. So to invest this much in housing is incredible, because it will mean the world to people with nowhere else to go.”
Aside from the housing blitz, funded by a transfer from the Operating budget, the other two main pieces of the House proposal are roughly $89 million in construction projects in other areas and more than $38 million in new funding for toxic cleanups and environmental work.
“How we split the housing investment is important,” Tharinger said. “Right now, the lack of permanent housing is a bottleneck, a crimp in the system. This is why our budget proposal on housing invests 80 percent of the funding on permanent housing, with the other 20 percent aimed at immediate shelter and relief.”
As part of the $89 million in non-housing construction projects, the House proposal includes:
- $13.2 million to retrofit public school buildings most at-risk during an earthquake
- $7 million in early learning facilities due to high demand
- Reprioritizing some of last session’s behavioral health investments in recognition of the huge need and demand for facilities that serve children and youth
The more than $38 million in toxic cleanup and environment work includes more than 30 cleanup and stormwater projects, with this funding made possible by a Model Toxics Control Act reform bill passed last session.
“All of these construction projects—for housing, public schools, state parks, behavioral health and environmental cleanup—will create jobs this year for men and women in hard hats along with engineers and other professionals,” Tharinger said. “And when these projects are completed, they’ll create jobs for generations to come as our sons and daughters reap the benefits of new infrastructure in every corner of the great state of Washington.”
For full details about Tharinger’s budget proposal, go here: http://leap.leg.wa.gov/leap/budget/detail/2020/hc2020p.asp