(The Center Square) – The Washington State Department of Commerce has announced several million dollars in grants aimed at lessening the state’s homelessness crisis.
The $39 million will go to five projects aimed at acquiring an additional 307 housing units that will be made available to low-income residents who are on the verge of becoming homeless or already are.
The bulk of the money, a little more than $25 million, will go to the Low Income Housing Institute in King County to purchase 161 permanent supportive housing units at three different apartment complexes.
King County will receive $8.9 million to provide 84 shelter units at a Red Lion Inn hotel in Federal Way, a city southwest of Tacoma.
Finally, $5.1 million will go to the City of Vancouver Housing Authority to provide 62 shelter units at Bertha’s Place, a homeless shelter located in a former Howard Johnson hotel.
These grants are the first phase of a new program called Rapid Capital Housing Acquisition, which is run by the state’s Housing Trust Fund located within the Department of Commerce.
For the state’s 2021-23 capital budget, legislators approved nearly $94 million for buying or renting property, including emergency shelters, permanent housing, youth housing and drop-in centers.
“This funding will rapidly add units that we need to keep more people housed as the economic impact of the pandemic continues to stress local resources,” Commerce Director Lisa Brown said in a press release.
Starting in early 2020 with the spread of coronavirus, local communities had to reduce occupancy at shelters or close them completely. The new acquisition program was developed after hotels saw a decrease in bookings and apartment complexes were losing tenants.
Organizations that qualified for the first round of funding had to show that they are capable of providing housing quickly with limited property rehabilitation.
The second phase will accept applications from Sept. 30 to Nov. 30 for projects that could be ready in 90 to 180 days.
Also on the homelessness front, a charter amendment in Seattle that would have changed the way the city approaches the problem will not be on the November ballot.
The Washington State Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s ruling late last week but did not issue a statement. King County Superior Court Judge Catherine Shaffer had earlier ruled that the measure should be removed from the ballot, stating it superseded parts of the city’s charter and state law.