Senate Democrats take aim at homelessness problem

The Bring Washington Home Act was unveiled on Thursday by Senate Democrats to further address the state’s rising rates of homelessness.

Sen. Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island, said “Homelessness is a crisis in this state. There isn’t a community in our state that is immune.”

Nicole Vukonich reports that Senate Democratic Leader, Sharon Nelson of Maury Island unveiled a proposal on Thursday, to help address the state’s growing homeless population. Numbers from last week’s One Night Count are beginning to trickle in and the results don’t paint a good picture. Homelessness in King County is up by 19 percent from last year, and in Snohomish County it’s up by 54 percent. The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction just reported that more than 35,000 students in Washington don’t have a safe place to call home.

Sen. Nelson said “The Bring Washington Home Act is a holistic approach to homelessness. It uses existing money sitting in the rainy day fund and invests in people and families that are homeless, or in danger of becoming homeless. We invest in housing programs, rental assistance, shelters, prevention and treatment for those who are fighting against chemical dependency and mental illness. And, very importantly to all of us, we invest in our kids who are trying to find their way off the streets and help their families who need a hand up. We do all this without raising taxes.”

In addition to many of her Senate Democratic colleagues, Nelson was joined by Olympia Mayor Cheryl Selby, Vancouver City Council Member Alishia Topper, and Julio Cortes from Cocoon House, a non-profit that provides housing for homeless youth in Everett. Despite having support of all Senate Democrats on the proposal, there is resistance from some on the other side of the aisle.

Sen. Nelson said “They can’t just say no to funding education, no to the homeless, no to moving this state forward. Not any longer. And the way to change that is for people across the state – in eastern Washington, western Washington – call their senators and representatives and say please fund this. We need to help our cities and our counties across this state. We need to begin to further address this crisis.”

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