Thank you for taking action over the weekend – your actions mattered!

HB 1277 passed in the Washington State Senate 26:23! It brings needed permanent funding resources for emergency rental assistance for people experiencing homelessness and permanent supporting housing for the Housing First model. We are especially proud to see East and North King County senators speak up – Senator Manka Dhingra (Redmond), Senator Patti Kuderer (Bellevue), and Senator Marko Liias (he is South Snohomish County).

The Eastside Interfaith Gathering (EIG) is an organizing circle convened by the Church Council of Greater Seattle over the past three years comprised of Protestant, Catholic, Jewish and Muslim members. The EIG is known for its influence of the historic 4:3 Bellevue City Council decision permitting shelters on public and private land, finally broadening zoning for shelters beyond faith-owned land.

Consultant Karen Studders organizes and facilitates the monthly gathering of clergy, congregants and organizations in East/North King County. In 2020 EIG clergy witnessed and discussed that the COVID-19 pandemic was putting more and more people at risk of losing their housing and that the existing homelessness systems could not address the incoming tsunami of evictions. EIG launched a campaign to continue to address homelessness and also to “Keep People Housed” and decided to stretch beyond the municipal level and organize and act at the state level. The Eastside Interfaith Gathering organized and adopted portions of the legislative agenda of the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance (WLIHA).

In 2021 EIG followed WLIHA’s lead and partnered with neighbors across the region to support four separate bills that work together to impact lasting, systemic, and sustainable change for all low-income Washingtonians. We hope these changes bring us closer to justice for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) and their communities who are disproportionately impacted by the racist and inequitable systems in our state resulting in poverty, homelessness, unemployment, and lack of access to basic resources like food, transportation, education, and health care.

  1. ESHB 1236: Protecting residential tenants from the beginning to end of their tenancies by penalizing the inclusion of unlawful lease provisions and limiting the reasons for eviction, refusal to continue, and termination. Ensuring that landlords cannot evict a tenant without having a legitimate reason for doing so (in effect, “Just Cause” eviction);
  2. E2SHB 1277: Providing for eviction prevention and housing stability services (surcharge on document recording fee which can be used for rental assistance, among other things);
  3. E2SSB 5160: Providing legal representation for tenants facing eviction – “Right to Counsel,” requiring repayment plans for unpaid rent during the pandemic, and ensures that both landlords and tenants can access state assistance programs. The Governor signed this into law with two sections vetoed and is effective 4.22.21;
  4. E2SHB 1220: Supporting emergency shelters and housing through local planning and development regulations. Amends the Growth Management Act and municipalities can no longer ban homeless shelters and zoning must allow all levels of affordable housing, including 0-60% AMI, not just workforce housing (80 – 110% AMI).
  5. Capital Budget – $350 million for affordable housing and homelessness!!!!
  • $175 million for Housing Trust Fund
  • $120 million for acquisition of property and buildings that can be rapidly converted to housing (ie motels, hotels, apartments)
  • $42 million for utility and infrastructure costs related to affordable housing
  • $10 million for preservation of existing affordable housing
  • Investments of $5 million for the Communities of Concern, over $13 million on equity, plus $5 million for a new capital grants equity program to provide technical assistance to underserved communities.

 

The passage of this foursome of bills and budget represents huge antiracist, systemic, statewide housing and homelessness change which would not have occurred without the interfaith community reaching out to their representatives and bringing the faith voice to the discussion! Thank you!

Thank you to every individual person and congregation who raised their voices in support of our neighbors experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity by supporting these bills. We look forward to sharing more detailed information about all four bills and what they mean for us and our neighbors soon. In the meantime, we encourage you to send thank you notes to your 3 legislators (find yours here).

FURTHER ACTION NEEDED: the Governor’s eviction moratorium expires on June 30th. These bills, the funding, and the people resources will not all be in place by June 30th to keep people housed. We have heard from several county legal aid organizations that landlords are preparing to evict July 1. Accordingly, we will be reaching to you as individuals and congregations to sign onto one more WLIHA sign-on letter to extend the moratorium until the resources are in place to Keep People Housed. Please look for our invite for you and your congregation to sign onto this letter.

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