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Published on Friday, February 2, 2018

Housing, homelessness and behavioral health bill status updates

It has been an eventful week in the human services and housing arena. Here is a quick update on some of the bills that we have been tracking.

HB 1797
The local options housing tools bill remains ready for House floor action. We are assured that the bill will come up for a vote, but the right timing continues to elude us. We believe that we will see significant bipartisan support when and if the bill finally moves to the floor.

HB 1570
The document recording fee increase is also awaiting floor action in the House. This fee funds the bulk of the state and local homelessness efforts. The bill makes the fee permanent and creates a county local option to increase the fee by another $50.

HB 2667/SB 6502
These bills would fix a problem in the integration of state programs that provide support to the temporarily and permanently disabled which is causing people to be made homeless when their temporary disability becomes permanent. The companion bills are moving in both chambers. The House fiscal committee had a hearing on HB 2667, while the Senate companion SB 6502 has moved from policy committee and is awaiting action in the Senate Ways & Means Committee. Recent good news on a reduced fiscal impact for the state is improving the chances for this bill. This is possibly one of the biggest no-brainers of the session and would stop the unnecessary creation of more homelessness on our streets.

HB 2437
Legislators continue to work on a bill that would create an opportunity to opt-in to a small slice of the state sales tax stream to fund housing construction, operations, maintenance, and rental vouchers. The proposal has not moved from the House Finance Committee but we’re hopeful that it will move before cutoff. We understand that legislators are working to reduce the upfront fiscal impact and may be considering a matching requirement for local governments who take advantage of this tool.

HB 2711/SB 6417
The ill-conceived “Housing Opportunity Zone” bills are intended to create an incentive program for private sector affordable housing development. Unfortunately the bills include some very serious assaults on local control. HB 2711 has been stalled in the House but SB 6417 did pass out of the Senate Local Government Committee in a form that limits the applicability to Snohomish County. Due to the extreme level of local authority preemption in some elements of this bill, and the precedent that would set, we will still be opposing the bill.

Categories: Housing, Human services