Sunday marked the end of the 105 day regular session down in Olympia with no budget agreement in sight. Governor Inslee has called all the legislators back down to Olympia for a special session to work out the budget beginning on May 13. While it may seem frustrating that the legislators couldn’t work out a budget in 105 days, it’s actually really great for housing and homelessness advocates to have an extended session. A special session means that we are more likely to end up with a final budget that reflects what we want: adequate investment in affordable housing (at least $65 million for the Housing Trust Fund + $28.5 million allotted to affordable housing projects by the House) and investment in the services that the people we serve need most, including Disability Lifeline (Housing and Essential Needs and Aged, Blind and Disabled) and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF).
Your legislators will be back home in their district for the next two weeks, so now it is MORE important than ever before to stay in touch with your legislators. Email them or better yet invite them to your programs and show them how your programs – especially programs that are funded by the Housing Trust Fund or Housing and Essential Needs programs – work! If we don’t keep in touch with our elected officials, we will not end up with the budget that we want in the end – one that protects affordable housing and services for our homeless and low-income neighbors.
The end of regular session also marks a time to celebrate our advocacy as a community this session and what it helped us to win. Our collective advocacy helped us pass part 2 of the Fair Tenant Screening Act, Foster Care to 21, and 72-hour notification for youth shelters. These wins are truly something to be proud of so let’s build on them and ask our legislators to pass a budget that Washingtonians can be proud of!