Section 6 of House Bill 1277 (passed by the 2021 Washington Legislature) has reiterated the challenges of affordable housing, housing instability, and homelessness in the state. The legislation has also underscored the many changes and important lessons learned associated with the COVID 19 pandemic. Furthermore, HB1277 has identified the need for a statewide housing assistance strategy. According to the legislation, “the COVID19 pandemic has exacerbated and shed new light on the state’s homelessness problems and forced communities and providers to reexamine the types and delivery of housing and services to individuals and families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness” [Sec. 6(b), lines 11-15]. A myriad of resources and programs have been created, or are under consideration, to pursue various approaches to improve services and outcomes for individuals at risk of or experiencing homelessness [Sec. 6(b), lines 15-24]. The legislature intends the work directed in this subsection to clarify the current state of housing instability and homelessness in Washington and inform the development of options and recommendations for a strategy to improve services and outcomes for individuals and create a pathway to housing security [Sec. 6(c), lines 36-39].
Section 6 of HB1277 has directed the Department of Commerce to contract with the William D. Ruckelshaus Center (Center) to:
- Explore and identify trends affecting and policies guiding the housing and services provided to individuals and families who are, or at risk of, homelessness in Washington State.
- Facilitate meetings and discussions to develop and implement a long-term strategy to improve services and outcomes for persons at risk or experiencing homelessness and to develop pathways to permanent housing
In July 2021, the Center began work on the tasks articulated in Section 6 of HB 1277. A critical first step was to build a multi-disciplinary team to develop a detailed project scope and work plan that will inform and guide this work over the next two years. The Center has enlisted the assistance of Washington State University (WSU) Extension’s Division of Governmental Studies and Services (DGSS), a social science research and outreach unit, to accomplish this project and legislative tasks.
Section 6, HB1277 directs three broad tasks that support a strategy to increase program and service outcomes for individuals experiencing housing instability and homelessness in Washington and to develop pathways to permanent housing security. A brief description of the legislative tasks is provided below.
- Legislative Task 1: Conduct fact-finding and research on housing instability and homelessness, root causes and correlates, and the programs and services currently available to address homelessness and housing insecurity in Washington State.
- Legislative Task 2: Conduct individual and small group discussions to identify stakeholder concerns, barriers, opportunities, and desired principles that must be considered and addressed to improve program and service outcomes for housing stability in Washington State.
- Legislative Task 3: Facilitate stakeholder discussions to identify options and recommendations that will inform the development and implementation of a long-term strategy to improve services and outcomes for persons at risk or experiencing homelessness and develop pathways to permanent housing solutions.
Reports on legislative tasks, including informant discussions and fact-finding, are due to the Office of the Governor and appropriate committees of the Legislature on December 1, 2021, and December 1, 2022; and a final report on December 1, 2023.
Read: Pathways to Housing Security December 2021Report (pdf)
The project team will be available through June 2024 for follow-up conversations and/or presentations as appropriate.