Cookie Settings

From Don Fornoff, Bishop’s Task Force on Homelessness:

The Bishop’s Task Force on Homelessness has been concentrating on advocacy for the past month, and now we’re in the home stretch of the Legislature’s 60-day session. We who are serious about affordable housing and the unhoused must keep up a fast pace to ensure some bills get through to the Governor.

ESHB (Engrossed Substitute House Bill) 2114 is currently in the Senate Ways and Means Committee, where it will receive a hearing on Thursday, February 22. Obviously, we are past this date as our eNews submission goes to press. I trust you have all notified your State District Representatives and Senators about how serious this bill really is, which is rent stabilization. I attended a Town Hall meeting on Tuesday for District 32 and heard my Senator, who supports the bill (as both of my Reps. Sponsored the bill), say he is concerned about the feedback from landlords and developers who might be dis-incentivized by the bill to not invest in the State. I have tried not to inject personal thoughts into my writing. Listen carefully: do you honestly think a State that needs 1 million units in the next decade won’t attract investment because the wealthy say they can’t charge high rental rates? It is a threat that needs to be called out. We, as Jesus’s followers, need to stand up for the unhoused and financially challenged.

Other advocacy opportunities to do this include ESHB 1998, co-living housing, which is also in the Senate Ways and Means Committee. Also to be watched and commented upon is ESHB 2160, which is housing near transit. It is currently in the Senate Local Government and Land Committee.

On the ‘why is all this happening?’ front, did you know over 50% of those in homeless shelters have jobs? Did you know that 40% of unsheltered homeless have jobs? For many workers, the need exists to work 72 hours for a one-bedroom apartment. Did you know that 0ne-in-three Washington households are not making enough money to make ends meet? ALICE data (asset limited, income constrained, employed) shows that these folks are employed but not making enough money to cover basic needs where they live. For a family of four living in Washington, it costs $77,328 a year minimum just to survive.

I hope the ALICE data and other information can convince you that a crisis exists. As we expand the ways we look at poverty, the realization grows that the problem is getting bigger- QUICKLY. It is politically explosive because a bigger problem means we need to do something about it. That means local governments have to take meaningful action. And the way that happens is for us, as Jesus people and citizens, to help find solutions.

Blessings to all,
Don Fornoff, member of the Bishop’s Task Force on Homelessness

Updates from the Bishop’s Task Force on Homelessness

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *