A historic budget for housing in Washington state

Sen. Patty Kuderer (D-Bellevue), chair of the Senate Housing & Local Government Committee, released the following statement regarding the passage of the 2021-23 state operating budget (SB 5092)

The budget lawmakers are approving today is an excellent example of how government can work for the people when it puts people first. This year’s operating budget will help thousands of families stay safe and healthy in their homes thanks to President Biden’s American Rescue Plan and a robust state rainy day fund created for these types of emergencies.

This budget includes more than $700 million in federal and state rental assistance that will help tenants to make their rent payments to landlords. It also includes nearly $200 million in federal funding for foreclosure prevention and other homeowner services.

We increase funding for hotel and motel vouchers, rapid rehousing, and other services to address homelessness. Funding is also included for low-income utility assistance, local government grants for shelters, homeless youth housing, and homelessness prevention services.

And I’m especially pleased to see funding for the services in SB 5160 including a first-in-the-nation statewide right to counsel for eviction cases, an expansion of dispute resolution center services, and funding to help landlords recover COVID-related losses.

At this time a year ago, the coronavirus was spreading out of control and unemployment rates were skyrocketing. Lawmakers were preparing for the worst. Thankfully, the economy has largely recovered, vaccine deployment is fully operational, and we’re getting close to putting this public health crisis behind us.

But the economy has not recovered for everyone, and that’s why it’s critically important for the state to make these investments – to help all Washingtonians get back on their feet. This budget, with $1.6 billion in new federal and state housing investments, will help thousands of families across Washington stay safe and healthy in their homes. Truly historic.