Governor’s budget includes homeless prevention
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced details of his proposed 2021-2023 budget earlier this month, which includes funding to help prevent people from becoming homeless as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and its financial burdens.
Inslee’s budget proposes increasing the minimum weekly benefits for unemployed workers and funding for rent and foreclosure help, as well as measures to create and preserve affordable housing.
The budget also marks $50 million to create enhanced shelters and modify basic shelters so they are less crowded and marks funds for various human services.
One in three Washingtonians have not had access to adequate food supplies during the pandemic, according to the Governor’s Office. His budget proposes $31 million to expand the state Emergency Food Assistance Program, provide grants to schools and food banks to provide fresh food and more vouchers so low-income people can buy fruits and vegetables.
To respond to the pandemic, Inslee’s budget also includes $397 million for public health. As in previous years, Inslee also proposed a tax on capital gains. It would raise an estimated $1.1 billion to help fill a revenue hole created by the pandemic.
Starting Jan. 11, legislators will convene a remotely-held, 105-day session to hammer out their own proposed budgets.
King County inmate dies; investigations to come
A 53-year-old inmate of the King County Correctional Facility in downtown Seattle died Dec. 27 after being brought to Harborview Medical Center the day before, according to a news release from King County. The King County Medical Examiner’s Office will review the cause of the inmate’s death. The Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention will conduct an internal investigation into the death with Seattle & King County Public Health, and the Seattle Police Department will conduct its own independent investigation.
Statewide eviction protection extended again
According to the U.S. Census, over 181,000 households in Washington have fallen behind on rent.
On Dec. 23, Gov. Jay Inslee announced he will extend the eviction moratorium through March 31. It would have expired Dec. 31.
“I know this moratorium has been critical for many families and individuals,” Inslee said in a statement. “People need certainty about whether [it] will be extended, and it is important that I provide that certainty today while we work out the final details of the moratorium.”
At the time of publication, the Governor’s Office had not provided details.
Earlier in December, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan extended the city’s eviction moratorium to March 31.
Washington’s eviction moratoriums were introduced early in the pandemic as temporary protection; tenants are still expected to pay rent and the moratorium does not forgive rent owed.
Read more in the Dec. 30, 2020 - Jan. 5, 2021 issue.