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Governor Inslee Gives His State of the State Address With A Focus on Housing

On Tuesday, January 10th, Governor Jay Inslee gave his first in person State of the State address in person, in Olympia. The primary focus of the address was the $4 Billion bond to increase housing and affordable housing across the state of Washington. 

WR also supports the increase of inventory and affordable housing and has launched it's own campaign called Welcome Home, which is is a comprehensive plan to provide additional types of housing and ramp up incentives for local jurisdictions to provide more and diverse housing types such as duplexes, triplexes, and cottage housing. Under Welcome Home, a series of legislative initiatives designed to allow more housing for our communities.

See Governor Inslee's comments on housing below and visit our Welcome Home page to learn more and sign the petition to support the intitative.

"States across the country are seeing an increase in homelessness, and Washington is one of them.

Why? There are multiple reasons. Though some people face behavioral health challenges or chemical addiction issues, the fundamental, underlying challenge is that we don’t have enough housing.

It’s a difficult irony of having a strong economy. Well-paid workers flock here for jobs, forcing lower-paid workers to compete for housing.

When there’s not enough housing for all, rents and prices skyrocket beyond what many can afford.

Until we fix our housing crisis, thousands of people will remain homeless.

Today, we’re short 81,000 housing units and worsening by the thousands every year.

Our population grew nearly 1 million people in the past decade. Housing stock only grew about 315,000 units. We need another million units in the next 17 years.

Again, until we fix our housing crisis, thousands of people will remain homeless.

And we need a fix that provides a level of speed and scale beyond anything we’ve done.

When it comes to building affordable housing, our Housing Trust Fund has been our primary tool for decades.

Unfortunately, we can only adjust that dial a little bit here and there. And we’ve been adjusting it up every biennium since 2013 — $30-$50 million at a time.

It isn’t enough. If there was ever a time to go big, it’s now.

I understand the frustration of those who wonder why this problem isn’t solved yet. And I understand the allure of easy answers to homelessness.

But there is no easy answer. Simply moving a person experiencing homelessness from one street corner or city to another is not a real solution.

What is working are efforts such as the rapid acquisition program we launched two years ago. That program is allowing us now to create thousands of new supportive housing units at a pace that was never possible before. This is a pace we must sustain.

I’ve seen the success in several housing projects I’ve visited, including a few months ago when I met a young man named Sjon Tori Mackey at a pallet shelter village in Vancouver called The Outpost.

Tori told me that having a private space all his own and access to services was the difference he needed to receive treatment and get back on his feet. He told me this literally saved his life.

I also met a woman named Millicent, and her daughter, McKenna, last year. They lost their home right before COVID-19 and couldn’t find another place she could afford. But they found stability at Willow Crossing in Seattle.

I’d like all of you to meet Tori, Millicent and McKenna as well. They are here today. Their stories are not unlike most of the other 25,000 individuals experiencing homelessness in our state.

When you’re one paycheck or one car repair away from a missed rent payment, it can feel impossible to find another option in a housing market like ours.

I’ll say it again: Until we fix our housing crisis, thousands of people will remain homeless.

This is why I’m proposing a $4 billion referendum that will significantly speed up the construction of thousands of new units that will include shelters, supportive housing and affordable housing.

This will be combined with additional behavioral health support, substance use treatment, employment services and more.

Why? Because we know that substance use treatment and mental health support can work when you combine it with stable housing.

This is not a one-time effort to buy a one-time fix where the money disappears. This money will turn into true assets that, once built, will provide a pipeline of affordable housing for tens of thousands of more people every year.

And most importantly, a bonding referendum allows us to act now — not bit by bit over the next 30 years.

This referendum will fast-forward our ability to build. Importantly, it offers us the scale and speed we need.

Scale and speed are necessary for market-rate development, too. Residential zoning restrictions block private developers from building denser and more affordable options.

We must finish the job we started last session to address middle housing and increase housing density within our communities.

There is a way to do this that respects the unique character of our towns and cities, while also responding to the reality that we are a growing, changing state.

Again, until we fix our housing crisis, thousands of people will remain homeless.

The people are with us on this. Let’s go big. Let’s get this done"

Governor Jay Inslee State of the State Address. January 10, 2023