NLIHC state coalition partners, the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance and the Washington State Coalition for the Homeless, will merge as one statewide advocacy organization on October 1. The new group will be called the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance and will combine both organizations’ efforts to end homelessness and advocate for affordable, low income housing across the state.
Since 1984, the Washington State Coalition for the Homeless has taken the lead in advocacy, training and education on issues of homelessness. The organization represents housing and service providers, ten year plan groups, and continuum of care groups from every county. The Coalition’s membership is comprised of homeless, housing and service providers, faith communities, local governments, members of the homeless and formerly homeless communities, local businesses, and housing advocates.
Similarly, founded in 1985, the Housing Alliance has been a trusted leader and expert on housing and homelessness in Washington. Along with a network of strong local housing and homelessness organizations, funders, service providers and individual advocates, the Alliance has advocated for sound state housing policies. Most notably, members of the Housing Alliance played a pivotal role in founding one of the nation's first state housing trust funds and helped secure the most public funding for affordable housing in the state’s history.
Leaders of the Housing Alliance and the Coalition for the Homeless believe the merger will create a stronger collective voice and a more unified movement. They hope to have a greater impact on policy decisions related to low income housing and homelessness, engage a broader grassroots base of supporters, and create efficiencies and expand funding opportunities that will increase resources for advocacy. The vision for the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance is one of all Washington residents having the opportunity to live in safe, healthy, affordable homes in thriving communities, which would encompass ending homelessness.
For the past several years, WLIHA and Washington State Coalition for the Homeless have worked closely together on a number of policy issues. Every year, the two organizations host a joint advocacy day at the state capitol and their legislative agendas often overlap. Most recently, both organizations worked together on state legislation that would increase and remove a sunset on document recording fees primarily used for preventing and ending homelessness. This will be a priority again in the new legislative year, along with increasing funding for the state Housing Trust Fund.
While the merger is underway, the Washington State Coalition for the Homeless will continue to operate as a program of the Housing Alliance to ensure members of the Coalition remain involved. “The Coalition has been working to end homelessness since 1984. Providers and advocates across the state feel a strong connection to the organization and we don’t want to lose that with the merger,” says Linda Hugo, Washington Housing Alliance Board President.
The Washington Low Income Housing Alliance will maintain its media, outreach and mobilization campaigns and federal and state legislative work. “The work of the two organizations is already closely tied and we believe we will be even stronger when we come together formally. We’re excited about joining the two organizations. We expect the merger to make us more effective advocates for ending homelessness and providing an affordable home for everyone in Washington,” says Troy Christensen, President of the Board of the Coalition for the Homeless.
For more information, contact Rachael Myers, Executive Director of the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance at Rachael@wliha.org.