From Don Fornoff, Bishop’s Task Force on Homelessness:
The Washington State Legislature is today (January 31) moving on current bills in which we have an interest. We won’t know until the end of the day whether 5 of the 7 bills we are watching get passed onto the floor of the House or Senate. Two other bills reside in either Finance or Ways and Means and will be voted upon February 5. So, next week, I will recap the bills that are still alive so that we can provide support through contacts with our State Representatives and Senators.
Current bills are:
- HB2114- Rent stabilization. In House Appropriations.
- HB2126- Authorize accessory dwellings. On the House floor, 2nd reading.
- HB1998-Co-living housing. On the House floor, 2nd reading.
- SB5901- Relating to co-living. In Senate Rules.
- SB5961- Improving housing stability. In Senate Housing Committee.
- HB2276- Affordable housing supply. In House Finance Committee. 2/5
- SB6191- Affordable housing supply. In Senate Ways & Means. 2/5
All of these bills are important to the ability state-wide for advocates for the unhoused to provide some meaningful actions on behalf of those unhoused people. It appears the legislature still has its priorities set on affordable housing supply. Yet possibly the most important bill is HB2114, which addresses rent stabilization and aims to keep people in their dwellings. Here also is the infestation of big money into this drama vs. grassroots support on a 3 to 1 pro-to-con support of the bill.
Remember, in 2023, the number of homeless in the US climbed to over 600,000, which is the highest it has been since 2007. This is according to USICH, the US Interagency Commission on Housing. This trend is reflected in the local numbers in Washington State. Also known is that the housing crisis is so out of control that over half of all renters can no longer afford their monthly bills. This situation is likely the same in Washington State.
Despite all we appear to be doing (and churches do a lot), there needs to be more done in each jurisdiction. The way through the morass is advocacy, all on behalf of folks who tend to be voiceless.
Advocate! Advocate! Advocate!