This Year’s Wins & Losses Statewide
To build a community where people have homes, students graduate and families are financially stable, we must fix systems and policies that make it hard for some people to thrive in our region. We’re beyond thankful for our donors, but the strategic investments in the community that they make possible will not solely create the change we want to see. We, and our partners, advocate with leaders in Olympia every year. While not everything we advocated for passed this legislative session, we had some key wins to advance our mission and make a difference in the lives of thousands of people across the state.
People have homes
Support eviction reform. (SB5600)
Unlike most states, Washington law allows landlords to evict within three days of nonpayment of any amount or for any other reason and evictions have been shown to be a leading cause of homelessness.
Result: PASSED! Great news, the passage of this bill gives renters 14 days to earn another paycheck, find a roommate, get help from family or connect with a nonprofit to provide eviction prevention through programs like Home Base.
Increase Housing and Essential Needs (HENS) funding.
This referral program provides access to essential needs items and housing assistance for temporarily disabled people in danger of becoming homeless. The waiting list has grown since budget cuts during the Great Recession—and an increase in funding would expand the number of people helped.
Result: SUCCESS! While HENS funding wasn’t doubled as we’d hoped, we are pleased that the budget was increased by about 25%. That’s $14.5M in what was a very challenging budget environment. This will prevent more vulnerable people from becoming homeless.
Support bonding against sales tax for affordable housing. (HB1406)
Allow localities to raise and bond against future state revenues for the purposes of building or renovating affordable housing.
Result: PASSED! This allows counties in Washington state to access one and bond against up to $51 million per year of existing state sales tax revenue (so no new tax to consumers) to renovate or build much needed affordable housing in their community.
Help young people get their education back on track.
We advocated for policies that support young people including expanding Open Doors funding to include summer quarter and remove barriers to reengagement in education.
Result: Started the conversation. This is the first year of a multi-year strategy. This year we built a coalition, next year we plan to introduce a bill so that new funds are available for non-education (barrier reduction) purposes, and youth trying to reconnect with their education can continue into the summer quarter.
Clarify eligibility of young parents for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. (TANF)
Result: Did not pass. This would have made high school students who are parents automatically eligible for TANF cash grants and the lowest child care voucher co-pays to help high school student parents meet their basic needs and persist in school. We’ll go at this again next year.
Include homeless children 12-month authorizations for Working Connections Child Care. (SB5820) Families who qualify for Working Connections Child Care because they are homeless lose this child care when they become housed. This presents a significant barrier for a working family, and child care settings are a key place of stability for kids who have experienced homelessness.
Result: Did not pass. We are surprised this did not pass and are likely to advocate for this again next year.
Break the cycle of poverty
Support a tax credit for working families.
Similar to the federal Earned Income Tax Credit, this credit would reduce Washington’s tax system’s regressive structure and put more money in the pockets of working families.
Result: Did not pass. This was tied to a Capital Gains tax proposal which didn’t have enough support to pass. We certainly aren’t experts of revenue but we hope to see the Working Families Tax Credit funded in a future budget, and we are experts in tax preparation for low-income families and would love to help them apply for this credit.
Support wraparound services for homeless college students. (SB 5800) One out of ten college students is homeless. Wraparound services—including immediate support like lockers, showers and food plans as well as case management and short and long-term housing.
Result: PASSED! This bill will provide funding to pilot wrap around service programs for homeless students at a handful of two and four year colleges. If shown successful we will advocate for more resources for this bill and programs like it to take to scale to meet the growing need.
Restore 60-month time limit exemptions for TANF families. (HB1603) This bill will eliminate permanent disqualifications and lifetime limits by allowing exemptions in certain situations.
Result: PASSED! Exemptions to 60-month lifetime limits have been restored for people experiencing homelessness and disqualifications eliminated for children of parents who have been sanctioned due to WorkFirst non-compliance. So if a mom failed to find work or otherwise violated a WorkFirst requirement three times over the family’ 60-month TANF eligibility lifetime, her children will now remain eligible for TANF grant funds and only she will be sanctioned.