State Legislative Update: Continuing the fight ‘til the final gavel

Extending Washington’s Document Recording Fees (HB 2368)

In order to fund housing and services for homeless families and individuals, Washington State charges modest recording fees on some real estate related documents. The fees are the state’s most significant funding source for homelessness programs, representing almost half of all funding statewide. The state and local programs funded with these fees help transition people off the streets into shelters and homes. Without HB 2368, these fees will reduce by $10 in July 2015 and then by another $20 in July 2017, slashing 62.5% of this funding source for ending homelessness. As a result, effective homelessness programs across the state would experience severe cuts or will be forced to close. This would seriously hamper the progress we’ve made in fighting homelessness here in King County and across Washington State.

This legislation can’t wait until 2015.  Document recording fee revenues are awarded on a competitive basis, and the next funding rounds take place this fall (2014). The funding projections for these allocations must be based on current law. So, without certainty of this funding source and with a July 2015 sunset looming, counties will not be able to contract for services in 2015. In other words, without action, funding cuts will go into effect this fall. Vulnerable populations like veterans, people living with mentally illness, domestic violence survivors, homeless families, and more will be impacted.

The Senate committee with oversight of this issue failed to pass HB 2368 by the appropriate deadline last week, but we’re not giving up. Call 1.800.562.6000 between 8:00am-8:00pm and tell your lawmakers (including the Governor) to support HB 2368. To find out more about HB 2368 and the extension of the Document Recording Fees, check out the Alliance’s website here.

 

The Housing Trust Fund

The Housing Trust Fund continues to be a critical source of funding for affordable housing here in King County and across the state. Unfortunately, the current budget proposals fall far short of making significant investments in affordable housing. The Senate’s 2014 capital budget allocated no money to affordable housing, and the House capital budget allocated only $5 million for energy efficient housing, $2 million for weatherization of homes for low-income homeowners, and $6 million for housing for people with chronic mental illness. The House also funds a handful of individual projects, including a King County Housing Authority project in Renton called Vantage Point.

We knew the capacity of the capital budget would be very low this year, but we had still hoped for a greater investment in affordable housing. Final budget negotiations will continue, likely until the final day of the legislative session. So call your legislators today, at 1.800.562.6000, between 8:00am-8:00pm and tell them to make a significant investment in affordable housing in the final capital budget. To find out more about the House & Senate budget proposals, check out the Alliance’s website here.

 

Housing Our Workforce (SB 5741)

Thank you, Thank you, to the many advocates who made calls, emails, and trips to Olympia to advocate for SB 5741 this session.  This advocacy moved our housing bonds bill much further in the process this year than last. Unfortunately, this legislation was not passed out of the Senate by the appropriate deadline and cannot move forward this year. We will be talking with our lobbyists, partners, and allies in the coming weeks to explore potential next steps and will keep you posted. If you would like to be part of the discussion about how to move this issue forward, please contact Kelly at (206) 682-9541 or email kelly@housingconsortium.org.