Homelessness advocates cheered Gov. Jay Inslee’s Dec. 18 reveal of a proposed $300 million in programs meant to combat homelessness in Washington state over the next three years.
Nearly half of that money — $146 million — would be spent in the first year, beefing up existing programs like Housing and Essential Needs ($26 million) and permanent supportive housing assistance ($15.4 million). Approximately $66 million would be dedicated to grants so that local governments can reduce the number of unsheltered people by 1,890 statewide.
“I want everyone in Washington to benefit from our state’s shared prosperity, but we know our state’s successes are not shared by everyone,” Inslee said in a press release.
Other uses of the money include quality-of-life improvements, such as $4 million to remove waste and debris from vacated encampments and niche programs like a transitional housing facility for homeless youth.
Washington state has the fifth highest homelessness population per capita in the nation, according to the last report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in December 2018. (The four states before us were, respectively, California, Oregon, Nevada and Hawaii.)
While Washington improved modestly in the 2019 point-in-time count, there are still tens of thousands of Washingtonians without stable lodging each night.
Inslee’s proposal has a long way to go before it becomes reality. The state legislature will soon start a 60-day session in the new year. Lawmakers will have a lot on their minds other than homelessness, advocates say, so they plan to fight for the proposal and other investments to reduce the suffering of homeless and low-income people across the state.
Anti-Muslim hate still rising
Last year was hard on Muslims in Washington state, according to a new report by the local Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-WA).
Hate crimes in 2018 rose locally and nationally. Locally, the number of reports to CAIR-WA that fit the classification of a suspected hate crime jumped more than 3 percent — from 12 percent to 15.5 percent. That’s in line with the general increase, which corresponded to the election of President Donald Trump.
Other kinds of cases reported to CAIR involved government surveillance while traveling. Many travel issues related in some way to the Muslim ban, an initiative put in place by the Trump administration early in his term in January 2017.
Courts initially knocked the ban down, saying it clearly targeted a single religion. Then, Rudy Guiliani — Trump’s private attorney at the center of the Ukraine scandal — reportedly helped massage the ban into something more palatable to the courts by targeting Muslim-majority countries on terrorism-related grounds.
Ashley Archibald is a Staff Reporter covering local government, policy and equity. Have a story idea? She can be can reached at ashleya (at) realchangenews (dot) org. Follow Ashley on Twitter @AshleyA_RC.
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