Advocacy Alert! Housing & Essential Needs Program
This week, your lawmakers are considering a $69M investment in Housing & Essential Needs, which provides critical rent and utility assistance for Washingtonians struggling with a disability. We need your voice to ensure this lifeline is adequate to the real cost of rising rents, and available to all who need it.
Many Washingtonians are living on the edge, one paycheck away from crisis. For those struggling with a disability and unable to work – temporarily or long-term – rising rents can mean a quick fall into homelessness. Housing & Essential Needs provides rent and utility assistance to those diagnosed with a significant physical disability or mental illness that keeps them from working.
— Statewide, rents have soared 21% since Housing & Essential Needs was created in 2011 – yet payments have remained flat. An investment of $12.4M would bring assistance in line with the real cost of rent.
— Many communities have resorted to putting eligible adults on waiting lists, as their Housing & Essential Needs funds are far short of what they require.
— A severe shortage of available, affordable homes for those living on the smallest incomes means that without Housing & Essential Needs assistance, many will fall into homelessness. (For every 100 households who earn just 30% of the median income, there are only 29 available and affordable homes.)
Housing & Essential Needs is a highly effective investment that promotes long-term stability. A robust $69M investment would result in thousands of Washingtonians finding or keeping a home.
— Housing & Essential Needs prevents homelessness by quickly putting rental assistance into the hands of those suddenly unable to work.
— By design, adults receiving assistance either transition back to work at the end of their short-term disability, or transition to federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) through the state’s Aged, Blind or Disabled (ABD) program.
— Eighty-one percent of those receiving Housing & Essential Needs are struggling with behavioral health, making this a frontline investment in our state’s behavioral health system. With a secure home, they are better able to address – and move forward from – a mental health crisis.
— Rental assistance is flexible and can be used to rent from a family member, or rent a room or apartment on the private market. This built-in flexibility makes it easier to find or keep a home, even in Washington’s challenging rental market.
We all hope that if we fall on hard times, we’ll find the support we need to rebuild our lives. Housing & Essential Needs provides services that allow Washingtonians to weather an unexpected disability – and ensures that a short-term disability doesn’t lead to long-term homelessness.
Please take action today!