Gov. Inslee calls KIRO Newsradio to defend $4B homelessness proposal

Feb 27, 2023, 1:26 PM
inslee homelessness...
Governor Jay Inslee’s $4 billion state budget spending proposal to address the homelessness crisis has received some pushback from fellow Democrats. (Photo courtesy of The Office of Governor Jay Inslee)
(Photo courtesy of The Office of Governor Jay Inslee)

Governor Jay Inslee’s $4 billion state budget spending proposal to address the homelessness crisis has received some pushback from fellow Democrats. Speaker of the State House, Rep. Laurie Jenkins, believes “more fiscally sound” solutions to the homelessness crisis should be considered.

“I don’t know that it’s rising as a preferred strategy, but I think people are still trying to figure out what is the preferred strategy,” Jenkins said. “At a certain point, we’re going to have to decide if there’s another idea that we think would be more fiscally sound or it provides more opportunity or whatever the critiques may be. Is there another option? Or is this really the option?”

Gov. Inslee: Homelessness is complex, needs help from Legislature

Inslee called into Seattle’s Morning News Monday to discuss the report and the wavering support from Democrats. He thinks funding for housing construction is key to solving the crisis, as well as money going toward addressing behavioral needs and addiction treatments.

“This is not just one thing for homelessness, it’s multiple things. It is increased mental health treatment. It is increased chemical addiction treatment, and this additional roof to live under, and that’s really important,” Inslee said. “The longer I’m in this, the more I understand we just don’t have enough housing, period. We’ve had about a million-plus people move in in the last decade, but we’ve only built about 350,000 housing units.”

The budget is a 12% proposed increase in spending from the current budget.

The additional money would pay for about 5,300 housing units between 2023 and 2025 and 19,000 in the following six years, according to the proposal. Nearly 13,000 people are living unsheltered throughout Washington state — up from more than 10,500 in 2020, according to the state’s 2022 Point in Time Count.

Inslee said the state needs 81,000 housing units, and it’s growing every day.

The governor is hoping the referendum will speed up the construction of thousands of new units. He said they will include shelters, supportive housing, and affordable housing.

Inslee also spoke about how the upcoming tax revenue forecast could mean a public vote on the levy may be avoided because a bond would no longer be needed to raise the $4 billion for the proposal.

“Legislators are hoping that they’ll be able to get enough money in our next revenue forecast to finance this $4 billion and then not have to do a bond,” Inslee said. “And if that happens, that would be great.”

Time to pay up or face Good to Go! toll fees and penalties

Inslee said that even if other proposals get put into action that the “scourge of homelessness” should come to an end in Washington, and we need to make investments to get people off of the streets.

“Washington should not accept permanent encampments in our neighborhoods and our parks and our schools and our roadways. I don’t think that’s acceptable. And the only way to solve this is to make some investments, which I’m proposing that the legislature makes,” Inslee said.

You can listen to the full interview with Governor Inslee here:

Matt Markovich contributed to this report.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Gov. Inslee calls KIRO Newsradio to defend $4B homelessness proposal