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From Donald Fornoff, Member of the Bishop’s Task Force on Homelessness

The Bishop’s Task Force on Homelessness continues to reach out to parishes and congregants to continue the works of ‘loving our neighbors as ourselves.’ There are so many good things being accomplished throughout the Diocese of Olympia, which the Task Force wishes to highlight soon. Right now, however, the Legislature continues its’ work to bring bills online to address homelessness. It becomes a matter of providing a framework to do the work necessary to support these folks, who are our neighbors. We need you to write to your representatives about bills that you care about. SHB 1389 will hopefully pass out of the housing committee, and move to the floor for votes (influenced by your support, hopefully). This concerns rent stabilization, which can prevent homelessness i.e. It is far harder to get out of being unhoused than it is to stay out of it.

So why am I concerned about this issue (and yes there are other bills to look into). Because between 2020 and 2022, rental rates have skyrocketed across Washington State. Rate increases in the Seattle area have been 17%, Tacoma 18.9%, Spokane 32%, Yakima 29.7%, Mount Vernon-Anacortes 33.2%, and Bremerton area 40.7%. Simply put, it is well above inflation. More simply put, if I may, it is unconscionable.

Additionally, economic evictions are on the rise. Many households pay more than 50% of their income for housing. That involves senior citizens, single parents, and veterans. Per Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, studies show that every $100 in median rent increases causes a 9% increase in homelessness.

Other rent stabilization bills include HB1124, which would require over 6 months notice for any rent increase of over 5%; and HB1388, which would prohibit excessive increases and authorize fines for landlord violations.

Bills have been introduced into this session to stop excessive rent increases, give renters more stability by knowing what they can expect, and to empower them with time and knowledge about how to deal with their situation. As well as to continue funding to deal with the backfilling of homeless services, to upgrade the housing trust, and to raise wages for homeless services workers. Let’s look at this through the eyes of our Baptismal Covenant, for the care of our neighbors who need a hand up.

Dear Ones, be well, do good works, and love one another,

Donald Fornoff
Bishop’s Task Force on Homelessness

Advocacy for the Homeless

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