Every year, it is our pleasure to bring our members and lawmakers together to reflect on past policy, discuss priorities for the upcoming year, and encourage all of us to engage in advocacy. This year was no different, featuring:
- Proposals to prevent extreme rent increases, secure funding for housing and homelessness services, expand voting rights for people who are incarcerated, and other priorities.
- Insights from Rep. Nicole Macri (43rd LD); Rep. Emily Alvarado (34th LD); Rep. Tana Senn (41st LD) and Senator Patty Kuderer (48th LD), who gave us the lay of the land and spoke about what they’re excited to work on during the legislative session.
- Our friends from Poverty Action, Civil Survival, and WA Low Income Housing Alliance, who shared their top priorities.
- Reminders that we’ll help you take action – even if you haven’t done legislative advocacy before or just need a confidence boost to share your testimony
For a full recap of our Legislative Preview, check out our YouTube recording.
Remarks from Reps Macri and Alvarado
Rep. Nicole Macri (43rd LD) and Rep. Emily Alvarado (34th LD) shared select priorities for housing and human services investment in 2024, while also offering some words of wisdom to guide us as we renew our advocacy.
A few key points from our representatives:
- 2024 is the second year of the WA legislative biennium, meaning we’re stepping into a short session that is intended to build off of work in 2023 – we have fewer chances for sweeping change, but we still have important work to do!
- We may be facing a revenue downturn, and therefore fewer chances to invest in human services, housing, and other social justice movements, due to reductions in revenue from the document recording fee.
- We have a great need for new revenue sources for human services and affordable housing due to increased costs caused by national inflation.
- We have plans to maintain our current level of services – Governor Inslee’s proposed budget prioritizes housing, behavioral health, and human services.
- Our state lawmakers have policy solutions to prevent evictions and resulting homelessness, support housing non-profits to maintain services, gain new revenue sources to fund affordable housing, and keep people alive amidst an opioid-fueled public health emergency.
Remarks from Rep. Tana Senn and Senator Patty Kuderer
Rep. Tana Senn (41st LD) and Senator Patty Kuderer (48th LD) also have distinct, but connected priorities that invest in affordable housing and prevent youth homelessness.
A few key points include:
- Our legislative champions have done a lot to establish and fund supportive services for youth at risk of and experiencing homelessness. We’ll keep working so that vulnerable youth and families have homes and wraparound services.
- There are highly technical solutions to build revenue for and protect affordable housing and our lawmakers are committed to using their power to make them happen!
Advocacy Partner Priorities
Next we heard from some of our advocacy partners on their 2024 legislative priorities. These priorities are informed by people with lived experience of homelessness, poverty, incarceration, and many other barriers to safety and stability.
We heard from Lianna Kressin of Statewide Poverty Action Network, who announced efforts to reduce administrative fees and arbitrary timelines that reduce TANF benefits for low-income families. Poverty Action invites you to their IN-PERSON Lobby Day – Monday, 1/15 (MLK Day) in Olympia! Register at this link.
We heard from Kelly Olson of Civil Survival, who announced a bill to prevent the loss of voting rights for people who are incarcerated in WA, and an effort to make it easier for people with misdemeanor convictions to vacate their criminal records, making it easier to access housing, employment, and other essential needs.
Civil Survival invites you to their IN-PERSON Lobby Days – 1/23 & 1/24 in Olympia – more details to come on their website.
We heard from Gian Mitchell of WA Low-Income Housing Alliance, who announced a number of technical solutions to protect renters, prevent homelessness, and fund affordable housing,
WLIHA invites you to Housing & Homelessness Lobby Day 2024 – Tuesday, 1/30 in Olympia – more details to come on their website.
Reminder to our Advocates: The Coalition Is Here for You!
That was a lot of information! It can feel overwhelming to feel informed and participate effectively during the legislative session, but the Coalition on Homelessness is here to support and empower you to be an advocate during the 2024 Legislative Session!
Remember: We don’t have an army of lobbyists in suits to protect our unhoused neighbors, we have you! And with the right tools, you can be even more effective than a lobbyist because of your commitment, experience, and compassion. Your lawmakers want you to talk to them!
Check out our tips for easy advocacy to build your advocacy toolkit – we have options for those who have 2 minutes or an entire day!
Some Words of Encouragement:
As a final meditation on the importance of legislative advocacy, our champions offer this:
“We don’t always win but we never give up!” Without our continued efforts, including dozens of emails, phone calls, and meetings during a 60-day legislative session, little would be done to secure a capital gains tax or subsidized childcare in WA – you can do the same to provide for our unhoused neighbors, and we will support you!
See you in Olympia!