Senators Disagree On Need For Statewide Homeless Emergency Declaration | KUOW News and Information

Senators Disagree On Need For Statewide Homeless Emergency Declaration

Feb 4, 2016

With homelessness reaching crisis levels in Seattle and other Washington cities, an influential state senator says the Legislature needs to step in.


Sharon Nelson, the Senate Democratic leader, plans to introduce a bill February 4 to use the state's rainy day fund for more homeless services. It has more than $700 million and is expected to grow. Nelson wants $300 million to go toward fighting homelessness.

Nelson: "We are hearing from cities from the coast to Spokane, and north and south, that they are struggling with this crisis. My proposal will be to use a portion of those funds and use proven, evidence-based projects that we can do to help the homeless."

That includes projects like more shelters, housing for youth, and efforts to quickly move people into permanent homes.

The rainy day fund is set aside for emergencies.

Nelson's Republican counter-part, Senate Republican leader Mark Schoelser, says homelessness doesn't meet that criteria.

Schoesler: "It's for when the economy truly takes a down turn or there's a huge natural disaster. Dipping into it prematurely could result in cuts to important services when there is some sort of dip in the economy."

He says the idea won't get support from his Republican colleagues.

It's an idea Governor Jay Inslee has supported, though, saying homeless services need more state funding.