Membership Meeting – March 21st, 2024

Welcome Back, Members!

Welcome back to a very special edition of our monthly Membership Meeting! Spring has sprung, and the Coalition is here to celebrate the transition and renewal that this time of year brings. And as we spring forward, you can expect us to keep opportunities for learning and advocacy flowing. 

In our latest meeting, we shared:

  • Information on Tax Prep and Tax Credits from our friends at United Way King County
  • Our 2024 Legislative Recap, in which we discussed with some of our most dogged housing and human services advocates what we achieved, why things shook out the way they did, and what we must prioritize for next year. Keep reading for insights from:
    • Rep. Jessica Bateman
    • Rep. Strom Peterson
    • Senator Patty Kuderer
    • Rep. Nicole Macri, and
    • Lianna Kressen of Statewide Poverty Action Network

Tax Prep Resources and Tax Credits for our Unhoused Neighbors AND Their Providers

Casey Lantz from United Way King County shared time-sensitive information on how we can access FREE tax prep resources in-person and virtually in King County.  Check out Casey’s slides below to learn how service providers and their clients can file for free and access cash resources via tax credits!

A few highlights you need to know:

  • To be eligible for free tax prep, a single person must make less than $80,000 per year, while a married person or person with dependents must earn less than $96,000 per year – this is many of us in King County!
  • United Way can help you to file your taxes in person or online – visit https://freetaxexperts.org to learn more
  • The Working Families Tax Credit is a big reason to file your taxes – individuals and families who have earned as little as $1 in the past year can receive up to $1,200!
  • Undocumented people and other non-citizens with earned income can claim the Working Families Tax Credit – you just need an ITIN – see how you can access an ITIN in the slides above
  • 2024 is the final year to access 2020 COVID Stimulus Checks – access this cash resource just by filing your taxes (no income is required!)

Hear directly from Casey on our YouTube recording.

Our 2024 Legislative Recap

During the short legislative session, we know that our hopes often exceed what our lawmakers can achieve. While we have more work to do next year to achieve rent stabilization, permanent funding for the Housing Trust Fund, and preventing cities from discriminating against shelter and supportive housing, we did achieve important outcomes that provide funding for housing and human services and improve access to public benefits. Read more about the results of this session on our blog.

As we reflect on what we can do next year, all of our lawmakers echo one important point: our experiences as renters, service providers, and those with barriers to housing are VITAL in convincing our lawmakers to make necessary policy changes, especially for politically tenuous strategies such as rent stabilization and expanding funding for permanent supportive housing. As Rep. Macri stated “when lawmakers hear from constituents, this outweighs fear-based messaging from the opposition”. And Rep. Bateman brings this to a point when saying, “we need a broad coalition next year, because this affects all of us”.

Photo Credit: Grant Hindsley

Rep. Jessica Bateman of the 22nd LD (Olympia, Tumwater, and Lacey) spoke to the need to build accountability for local governments to honor our mandated commitments to building housing density in our communities. Last session, the legislature passed HB 1110, the Growth Management Act, which requires cities to plan for the inclusion of more ‘middle housing’, or modest multi-family housing complexes, such as duplexes and townhouses, in the pursuit of a greater housing stock statewide. However, cities can easily avoid such planning with enforcement due to discriminatory attitudes towards. HB  2113, the Housing Accountability Act, would do just that, enforce the planning and building of new multi-family housing to house more Washingtonians. While this bill did not proceed, she plans to reintroduce it in the 2025 session. We thank Rep. Bateman for her work to allow greater housing density so that more of us can afford a place to live!

Hear directly from Rep. Bateman on our YouTube recording.

Rep. Strom Peterson of the 21st LD (Edmonds, Lynnwood, and Mukilteo) also spoke to need of state enforcement, this time for the siting of permanent supportive housing and shelters. Many of us are aware of efforts in cities like Des Moines and Kenmore to reject supportive developments for people with housing barriers, especially after receiving sensationally negative feedback from community members. HB 2474 attempted to create consequences for cities not following the legal requirements that cities plan for and provide for emergency shelter and permanent supportive housing – and as we know homelessness and housing unaffordability are regional issues that require all cities to act. HB 2474 died, but went further than expected, and will be reintroduced next year. We thank Rep. Peterson for his work to allow important emergency and long-term housing services for some of our most vulnerable neighbors.

Hear more from Rep. Peterson on our YouTube recording.

Senator Patty Kuderer of the 48th LD (Redmond, Bellevue, and Kirkland) relayed continued progress to support youth at-risk of homelessness who are leaving foster care and behavioral health care. Bills she is most proud of this year include SB 5908, which enhances the extended foster care system to provide more options for housing supports and expanded eligibility to serve more vulnerable youth, and HB 1929, which provides additional transitional housing supports to youth leaving behavioral health inpatient treatment. We thank Senator Kuderer for her continued youth advocacy and congratulate her on the passage of these two bills!

Hear more from Senator Kuderer on our YouTube recording.

Rep. Nicole Macri of the 43rd LD (Seattle) spoke of the progress made to support a growing number of rent-burdened Washingtonians, who are at risk of homelessness due to rising rent costs. HB 2214 aims to cap the amount a landlord can raise the rent, while also requiring earlier notice for rent increases and limiting move-in costs – all tools that can prevent rent burden and economic eviction. While the concept of rent stabilization has reportedly been a non-starter amongst moderate Democrats in past years, this bill got much further than expected, largely due to strong constituent advocacy across the state. She intends to launch a new education campaign before running the bill again next year.

The 2024 legislative session did amount to some significant budgetary wins, as we were able to invest large amounts in the Capital and Operating budgets to make historic investments in the Housing Trust Fund, and to backfill gaps in funding for emergency shelter and other homeless services, and to provide one-time behavioral health funds to offset a shortfall of funding in King County. We thank Rep. Macri for her continued efforts to support renters and keep our homeless service programs running.

Hear more from Rep. Macri on our YouTube recording.

Lianna Kressen from Statewide Poverty Action Network was excited to tell us about her victory for low-income families via HB 1652, the ‘child support pass through’. For years, Washington state has quietly collected the majority of funds from child support payments made to families who are receiving TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) funds as a way to raise revenue. Thankfully, the state will end this practice in January 2026, allowing the full amount of child support payments to go to the families who need them. Thanks to the advocates at Statewide Poverty Action Network who have worked to ensure families receive stabilizing income.

Hear from Liana directly on our YouTube recording.

Keep in touch with the Coalition to hear about advocacy opportunities before the 2025 WA Legislative Session – we know lots of ways to support our unhoused neighbors and their service providers by advocating locally. Want to learn more? Opt in to our emails.