- Cynthia Stewart, League of Women Voters - email@example.com
- Glad the session is over, it has been grueling (interesting word, grueling. Originally coming to English in the 14th Century from the French gruel – meaning “grain that was ground”. Gruel is the rather bland cereal, and found a place in prisons, where in the 18th century it got some legs as a verb meaning to take one’s punishment. I’m going to guess Cynthia meant all those meanings – a session that was bland, monotonous, and punishing, and yet nourishing. –ed)
- The real story of homelessness is economic inequality – what we have the hardest time attacking.
- The legislators came to the session with a wide range of understanding. Some know a lot about homelessness, but most know very little. They thought something needed to be done, but didn’t know the basics. We were trying to get the legalization through by folks that didn’t really know much.
- Another problem is that many local jurisdictions have not adopted affordable housing comprehensive plans. (maybe we’ll just get lucky and the affordable housing crisis will just go away…-ed)
- We have a lot of fear of the visible homeless, but not an understanding of the bulk of the homeless. We saw that misunderstanding in the legislature.
- The data – Michael Yoder from AM did a good job in his recent editorial in the TNT (https://www.thenewstribune.com/opinion/article230279739.html )about the inaccuracies of the Point in Time count (https://www.co.pierce.wa.us/4719/Point-In-Time-Count-PIT ). Coordinated Entry data is much better than the Point in Time count data. With the Point in Time County, there can be a misunderstanding that homelessness going down, but it isn’t.
- At session, there was a $4.5B deficit to keep current levels of service up, in spite of forecasts of good economic growth. The possibility of increasing revenue by the Capital Gains tax was discussed – as a revenue generator and something that would fund more. It was desirable because it doesn’t expand our regressive tax system (a good article about the regressive tax system at https://www.kuow.org/stories/why-washington-ranks-as-the-worst-state-for-poor-residents -ed.).
- The legislature ended up passing some categories of legislation
- house bill 1406 (https://app.leg.wa.gov/billsummary?BillNumber=1406&Initiative=false&Year=2019 ) – allow jurisdictions to retain some of their sales tax. It is small - but meaningful. But have to pass .1% for affordable housing or the mental health tax.
- $175M in the housing trust fund – good money, but it takes years to play out.
- Use of real estate excise tax – a progressive tax – that tax will go down for 90% of sales, but for people at higher property tax values, it will generate some more revenue. At least that is a change in the tax structure. local governments can use this tax for affordable housing, but they are currently using this money for parks and other public good.
- Non-traditional housing
- Tiny house developments
- Comprehensive planning – providing incentives to add density for affordable housing
- Planning grants
- Allow churches to use their property for housing
- Landlord tenant protections on behalf of the tenants
- Allow more time for overdue payments
- Changes in eviction law
- Youth experiencing homelessness
- Expansion of McKinney-Vento supports
- Grants to support students
- Supports at community colleges for homeless students
- Use of hope centers
- Not passed
- Support for transit for folks experiencing homelessness
- More state funding for transit since local areas won’t raise their own taxes for transit
- With the deficit looming, we did well, but we need to do so much more
- Where do we go from here?
- County – Need to pass the Mental Health tax.
- League – doing study of affordable housing and shelter needs that will allow more action.
- Need to do a lot more work in getting the word out to the public that this issues isn’t a “Seattle is Dying” (in case you haven’t yet seen this - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpAi70WWBlw ) issue – the public needs to understand the issue much better before we make any progress.
- Need to educate the law makers much better. Many came in that didn’t have a clue. There were some real heroes- Michele Thomas of the Washington Low Income Housing alliance. There were some legislative heroes who need to be thanked, but the rest need education, and that is our job.
- Really need to get the legislature to adopt fairer taxes.
- Theresa- we’ve missed you, and thank you for being in the trenches that whole time – you made things happen that wouldn’t have without you there.
- Cynthia - I just received the Citizen of the Year by South Sound Magazine (https://southsoundmag.com/best-of-south-sound-2019/#citizen-of-the-year ). I have to make a speech at the awards ceremony, which made me reflect that there is nothing I could do without the whole team.
- If you are an interested voter about the .1% - there are 4 yes votes, 3 lean towards no – pam roach and mccune are not receptive to the tax increase. Dave Morell – District 1, is on a fact finding mission – with AM, e-mailed the council’s assistant – took less than a week to get an hour with them. He is open to conversations. If he is your council member, we’ll need a super majority – 5 to 2. We are hopeful this won’t happen again. If you are in boney lake or that area.