OLYMPIA — The Senate today unanimously passed a supplemental capital construction budget (SB 5651) that invests $1.5 billion in priority infrastructure across the state, including landmark funding for housing to address the state’s homelessness crisis.
“This budget takes on the most pressing issues facing our state,” said Sen. David Frockt (D-Seattle), vice chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee and the Senate’s lead capital budget writer. “More than one third of this 1.5 billion dollar budget goes toward building facilities to address the homelessness and mental health and substance abuse crises affecting us in Seattle and around the state. Over the two-year budget cycle, we will have invested more than a billion dollars in these areas, which has to be a record.
“These are the tools that the City of Seattle and the King County Regional Homelessness Authority need to show our constituents progress on the homelessness crisis, and they should work with partners to apply for and take advantage of these grants.”
A historic $440 million funds grants and loans to invest in affordable housing, including $300 million for rapid housing. The budget also includes $98 million for behavioral health and crisis stabilization.
Established in 2021, the Rapid Housing Acquisition program helps local governments around the state bring unsheltered people into housing as quickly as possible. It has already provided grants for rapid housing projects in the Seattle and Vancouver areas that are anticipated to generate hundreds of units quickly in the coming months.
Hundreds of schools across Washington face a high risk of serious damage from an earthquake or tsunami, according to a 2021 report by the Department of Natural Resources. The capital budget contributes $100 million toward the cost of replacing or seismically retrofitting school buildings in high seismic areas or tsunami zones. A new seismic safety grant program was established by Frockt’s SB 5933, which both chambers of the Legislature passed unanimously.
“Providing safe places for children to learn is one of the state’s most serious responsibilities,” Frockt said. “The risk of an earthquake or tsunami may seem small at any particular place and time, but multiplied by all the communities in potentially geologically active areas across our state, this problem is urgent.”
A further $251 million goes to improve the state’s environmental health, including water quality, recreation and conservation. Local and community projects supported by members of both parties across the state are also included in the budget.
The budget demonstrates Senate Democrats’ commitment to equity by investing significantly in underserved communities through broadband expansion, affordable housing and community projects.
Priority projects in communities that have historically been underserved, including communities of color, receive significant funding. In Seattle, that includes $4.5 million for the Tubman Health Clinic, a Black community-owned and -led health institution for all people. The flagship Tubman health center is slated to open in 2025. Another $4 million goes to the Rainier Valley Early Learning Center.
Expanding broadband internet access to rural and underserved areas across the state was one of the key recommendations identified in last year’s report of the Special Committee on Economic Recovery, which Frockt chaired. This budget provides $100 million toward that goal through funding from last year’s federal infrastructure law.
Community behavioral health is also a priority. The budget contributes $6 million for Cascade Hall Community Psychiatric Clinic in King County to make sure the important inpatient beds it offers are not eliminated. Another $10 million goes toward a new King County crisis stabilization facility.
“I am also pleased that this budget passed on a unanimous bipartisan vote, which is what we have had with virtually every budget in this space in recent years during my tenure in this role,” said Frockt. “This shows that the parties can work together, in good faith, when they come together and listen to one another and respect the needs that different communities have. Every Washingtonian in every district has a stake in preserving our natural resources, making schools safer from earthquakes and tsunamis, expanding broadband internet access, and investing in our state parks.”
A list of the budget’s capital investments in Seattle is available here.
Having been passed by both chambers of the Legislature, SB 5651 now goes to the governor for his signature.