Advocates across Washington State are increasing pressure on legislators to maintain funding for affordable housing and homelessness prevention programs after Governor Chris Gregoire (D) called the legislature back for a special session. NLIHC state coalition partner, the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance (the Housing Alliance), is capitalizing on support built through their ongoing Homes for All campaign and the February 14 Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day. The Housing Alliance aims to secure $60 million for the state’s Housing Trust Fund and to sustain current homelessness prevention programs once the House and Senate reconcile their respective budgets.
On April 26, the Washington State Legislature reconvened for a special 30-day session after failing to resolve the state’s FY12 operating budget during the general session. During the Housing Alliance’s Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day, over 500 advocates from 46 of the state’s 49 legislative districts met with nearly 100 legislators and their staffs. As a result, members of the House proposed a $60 million dollar allocation to the Housing Trust Fund. While less than the $130 million invested in the Trust Fund during the previous biennium, this is double the Senate’s proposed $30 million allocation. When combined with the other funding it would leverage, approximately 1,500 affordable homes would be created.
Additionally, both the House and Senate introduced bills that would maintain funding for current programs that end and prevent homelessness. The funding for these programs, known as the Home Security Fund, receives revenue from real estate document recording fees. As a result of fewer real estate transactions and sunset provisions on some recording fees, without legislative action, the Home Security Fund faces a significant shortfall.
In support of the House budget proposal, the Housing Alliance is coordinating volunteers to phone bank with the goal of having daily calls to representatives for the duration of the special session. The Housing Alliance is also continuing its work on the Homes for All campaign. The campaign is a storytelling project that captures the personal testimonies of low income and disabled residents (see Memo, 12/17/10). Since its launch in December 2010, the campaign has filmed 11 stories, generating interest on the Housing Alliance website, Facebook and Youtube sites. Residents who shared their stories have testified before committees and shared their video testimonials with various legislators.
“We are seeing results from the tremendous support of organizations, average citizens, and our members who are committed to ensuring over 72,000 people don't experience homelessness,” said Moque Krape, mobilization coordinator of the Housing Alliance. “Our campaign efforts continue to be instrumental in building our membership base. The videos show legislators and the public the struggle low income residents face, and the impact affordable housing has on people’s lives such as maintaining employment or keeping their children in school. These stories illustrate for lawmakers why funding for the Housing Trust Fund and homelessness prevention programs is so critical.”
For more information, contact Moque Krape at firstname.lastname@example.org.