Issue: Homelessness can’t be ended — or even reduced significantly — without adequate resources being devoted to solving the problem. The state legislature is in the process of writing the 2007-2009 biennial budget, and they are considering a number of proposals that would increase funding for affordable housing and supportive services. One proposal, part of E2SHB 1359, would raise $13 million to help end homelessness.
Background: During the last one-night count, more than 24,000 homeless people were counted in Washington State. In January, more than 2,000 were found surviving outdoors in just Seattle and King County. Thousands more were living in emergency shelters and short-term transitional housing, and undoubtedly, many more were not counted at all. Over the course of a year, at least three times as many people experience homelessness as are counted on any one night.
In 2005, the legislature passed the Homelessness Housing and Assistance Act. This added a $10
surcharge to certain document-recording fees collected by county auditors during real estate transactions. Funds are divided between counties and the state, and it raises about $16 million a year. Funds are used to implement 10-year plans to end homelessness and to fund housing and services to accomplish the goals of the 10-year plans.
This funding is important to our local efforts to end homelessness, but it’s not enough. When King County sought applications for use of the money collected from the $10 fee, it received over $32 million in requests for just over $6 million in available funds. 78 projects applied and 16 were funded.
E2SHB (Engrossed—which means that it’s passed one chamber of the legislature already—2nd Substitute House Bill) 1359 adds an additional surcharge of $8. Local governments would get 90 percent, and the remaining 10 percent would go to the state for ending homelessness.
The amount of the fee is inconsequential in a real estate transaction. To put it in context, the median price of a home in King County is $405,000, and on that sale there is $7,209 excise tax, plus brokerage payment, loan fees, lawyers, etc. Another $8 won’t make a difference in any real estate transaction, but $13 million will make a difference in ending homelessness.
Action: The bill has been referred to the Senate Consumer Protection and Housing committee and has been scheduled for a hearing on March 22 (a good sign). Friends in Olympia tell us that it will need a strong collective push in order to pass. Please call the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000 and leave a message for your State Senator asking her or him to help make sure that the
document recording fee in E2SHB 1359 is passed because we need the $13 million it would generate to end homelessness.
If your senator is on that committee, it is especially important that you call this week. Committee members are Brian Weinstein (D - Mercer Island), Claudia Kauffman (D - Kent), Jim Honeyford (R - Sunnyside), Jerome Delvin (R - Richland), Mary Margaret Haugen (D - Camano Island), Ken Jacobsen (D - Seattle), Derek Kilmer (D - Gig Harbor), Bob McCaslin (R - Spokane Valley), and Rodney Tom (D - Bellevue).
Find out who represents you, or find your senator’s email address: www.leg.wa.gov.
For copy of actual issue, go to https://www.realchangenews.org/2007/03/21/mar-21-2007-entire-issue