OLYMPIA – Legislation that would allow temporary shelters or transitional encampments for people experiencing homelessness to be quickly sited passed off the Senate floor.
Senate Bill 5428, sponsored by State Sen. Joe Nguyen (D-West Seattle), would give local jurisdictions a valuable option for relieving homelessness.
“In the two years of the pandemic, we saw a critical housing issue go from bad to much worse,” said Nguyen. “Temporary shelters and transitional housing add another tool to the toolbox in providing some relief to our housing crisis. While these shelters aren’t the ultimate solution, our communities are in urgent need.”
Temporary shelters provide quarters for sleeping and shelter. They may offer food preparation, showers, or other common services. Transitional encampment includes tents, modular structures or similar shelters, including vehicles used for shelter, providing temporary quarters for sleeping and shelter. SB 5428 provides exemptions to site a temporary shelter or transitional encampment if the facility is used for people experiencing homelessness and is not a new permanent structure.
“Shelters have been desperately needed for members of our community,” said Nguyen. “It is especially troubling during colder weather conditions and as we have moved away from the congregate shelter model. We need to create more opportunities for sanctioned encampments and help our unhoused neighbors with a safe and stable place to live.”
The bill does not exempt local jurisdictions from ensuring the health, safety, and environmental integrity of the temporary emergency shelter. Rather, it will prevent the delay of much needed shelter for community members experiencing homelessness. The bill also requires local jurisdiction within which the facility is sited to have declared a state of emergency on homelessness.
The legislation now moves to the House for consideration. The 2022 legislative session is scheduled to adjourn on March 10.