Folks in the 31st Legislative District have a chance to help advance legislation that would provide funding for affordable homes, but we need to act quickly. Our 31st LD Rep. Drew Stokesbary sits on the House Finance committee. HB 2437 “Encouraging investments in affordable and supportive housing” is scheduled for a committee vote on Monday, February 5.
Use the link to find out more about the bill, leave a comment, and to contact Rep. Stokesbary to encourage him to vote YES on this important legislation. http://app.leg.wa.gov/billsummary?BillNumber=2437&Year=2017
Democrats have majorities in the State House and Senate this year, so you may wonder why it is important to reach out to a Republican representative to ask for his support. Keep in mind that our majorities are slim, only 2 votes in the House and 1 vote in the Senate. Having bi-partisan support is extremely important in keeping bills moving forward. Plus, it is always worthwhile to make our voices heard since Rep. Stokesbary is supposed to be representing ALL the people of the 31st LD, not just those who voted for him in the last election.
In addition, all our legislators need to hear from us, whether it is on big ticket items like putting a price on carbon pollution and establishing single-payer healthcare, or whether it is more local concerns like keeping the Rainier School open and providing ways for cities to secure funding for affordable housing. This kind of legislation has a visceral and direct impact on people’s lives and we risk losing support and votes when we neglect these priorities.
Let me say first that HB 2437 won’t raise taxes. The moneys used will come from the sales and use tax, however, “The tax is credited against the state sales tax collected in the jurisdiction. It is not an increase in sales or use tax for consumers and does not change the overall retail sales or use tax rate. Instead, the amount of sales tax retained by the state is reduced.” The local jurisdictions can then use the money for “acquiring, rehabilitating, or constructing affordable housing, including new units of affordable housing within an existing structure or facilities providing supportive housing services to individuals with mental or behavioral disorders; operations and maintenance costs of new units of affordable or supportive housing; or rental assistance to tenants.”
On the question of affordable housing, it is important to note that these programs benefit a wide diversity of our population. According to the King County Housing Authority, of those taking advantage of subsidized housing, “50 percent of households are white; 25 percent are black or African-American; 17 percent are Asian; 8 percent are Latino; 1 percent are Native American; and 1 percent are Pacific Islander.” The goal is to put an end to the creation of slums, and make it possible for folks facing a difficult financial situation to live in a place that is safe, comfortable and healthy, while not having to choose between paying for food and medicine in order to be able to pay the rent.
If you would like more information about advocating for affordable housing and ending homelessness, I recommend visiting the website of the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance. You can review other bills that they are supporting this year, sign up for email action alerts, and even get help finding affordable housing for yourself, a family member or friend.