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

The Washington State Legislature has finished its 2024 session work. Some specific bills were passed to help with the homelessness situation, but the main bill (HB 2114) to prevent it was quashed. That was rent stabilization. It was killed by the moneyed interests in real estate. So, there will probably be a significant increase in the state’s unhoused population.

A week after the close of the session, the Seattle Times reported that the State has provided funds for more attorneys to help tenants who have received eviction notices. I am compelled to say this is an example of shoving the issue to the side instead of dealing with root causes. The landlords’ association was quoted as saying it would have been better to provide funding to pay for owed rental. This thought rings hollow as another Seattle Times article notes that evictions doubled in January 2024 compared to January 2023, with 2,000 cases and 55% higher than Jan. 2020. Rent increases cited for Clark County are 22% higher and Spokane 31% higher. King was 6% higher. The article further states that the State needs to take action to address the root causes of housing instability and homelessness. The disconnect is obvious and troublesome. The action shown to be necessary is to continue ADVOCACY as well as we all can throughout the year. That means showing up in our towns and cities, in our neighborhoods, and at the state level.

There are many good things happening! A great number of Episcopal churches are providing direct services and supporting local social programs. I hope to highlight many of those during the year.

Sound Foundations is building tiny homes. Housing Hope has extended its’ building programs into the South Snohomish area. LIHI continues to build and establish tiny house villages. We can get more involved in these efforts because the need exists to build relationships with the unhoused and form neighbor relationships.

This past Saturday, Jeffrey, Elizabeth, and I attended a summit on poverty. A number of organizations were represented. On April 11, I will attend a conversation about homelessness in Mukilteo. Participants will include Snohomish County Human Services, the CEO of Housing Hope, Millenial Ministries, and the City of Everett. Point-in-time counts have been calculated and distributed in many jurisdictions. Watch for them!  On April 21, the St. Luke’s, Seattle building program kicks off at Diocesan House.

In summary, Dear Ones, there are challenges and successes. It is up to us to confront the challenges and to embrace and support the successes.

Don Fornoff, Member, Bishop’s Task Force on Homelessness

Updates from the Bishop’s Task Force on Homelessness

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