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Gov. Inslee 2020 budget includes $146 million to fight homelessness

Gov. Jay Inslee. (Gov. Jay Inslee, YouTube)

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee unveiled his 2020 supplemental budget proposal Wednesday, putting a special focus on fighting what he describes as a “statewide homelessness crisis.”

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“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 blog post published to Medium.

His proposal would cost $146 million in the current operating budget, and over $300 million over the course of the next three years. Inslee’s plan would pull that money from the state’s emergency reserve, which his office projects will contain $2.5 billion at the end of the next two years.

Among a handful of funding initiatives, the plan includes $66 million to “reduce the point-in-time count of unsheltered individuals by 1,890,” $1 million for a transitional housing pilot program for homeless youth, $26 million for housing and essential needs serving 2,200 people, $30 million for new enhanced shelters, and $15.4 million to provide permanent supportive housing for 1,080 people.

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“While we’ve made progress at increasing affordable housing stock, we must do more for people who are living outside,” Inslee said. “We need to provide financial resources with a strong infusion of compassion, dignity and attention.”

Also included in Gov. Inslee’s budget proposal were measures to address firearm violence, education, orca and salmon recovery, transportation, and more. You can see the full budget proposal here.

State lawmakers are weighing in on Inslee’s proposed budget:

From Sen. John Braun, (R-Centralia) Republican leader on the Senate Ways and Means Committee:

“It’s good that the governor didn’t propose new taxes, for a change, but he also wants nearly a billion dollars in additional spending at a time when there are already concerns about the sustainability of the current budget. His emphasis on housing seems to ignore government’s track record on addressing homelessness, and he missed opportunities to address issues that matter to all Washingtonians, like car tabs and repeat DUI offenders and property-tax relief for all low-income seniors. There’s a real contrast between what the governor views as important and what Senate Republicans have been hearing from the public.”

Rep. Cindy Ryu (D-Shoreline), Chair, House Committee on Housing, Committee Development, and Veterans:

“As Chair of the Housing, Community Development, and Veterans Committee, and as a member of the Appropriations Committee, I appreciate Governor Inslee’s strong commitment to reducing homelessness in his supplemental budget proposal. It’s our job as legislators to write and pass the budget, but his ideas give us a strong starting point for the coming year in our ongoing efforts to reduce homelessness and improve housing affordability.”

Rep. Timm Ormsby’s (D-Spokane), House Appropriations chair:

“As always, we appreciate receiving Gov. Inslee’s budget ideas at the outset of our work. And, as always, we’ll go through his proposal line by line and give each item careful consideration. His creative thinking on housing, one of our state’s most pressing problems, is especially welcome. “We agree that this year’s supplemental budget should be a simple update, and would not anticipate proposing any big surprises. We wrote a great budget last year and this supplemental should focus mostly on adjustments for caseload changes and unanticipated developments. We might move some pieces around differently from the governor’s plan, but I suspect the bottom line will be very similar. We’re all working off the same arithmetic.”

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