SEATTLE – Gov. Jay Inslee today signed a bill into law that will continue to boost educational outcomes for homeless children. He was joined by housing advocates, students and legislators at McKinley Elementary in Tacoma which has a large number of homeless students.
HB 1682 will improve outcomes for homeless students through funding for shelters, transitional and short-term housing, and emergency beds for homeless kids and young adults.
“This bill acknowledges the enormous challenges these kids and their families face every day. It prioritizes educational outcomes for homeless kids and gets to work doing something about making them better,” Inslee said. “This is good for children. This is good for families. This is good for our communities.”
The bill builds upon millions of dollars of investments for homeless families since 2013. Funds in the supplemental budget include $2 million dollars for setting up HB 1682-authorized programs at the Department of Commerce and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, roughly $4 million for other support services for homeless youth and $7.4 million in spending authority for the Consolidated Homeless Grant, adding to the $35 million of funding in the 2015–17 biennial budget. That new appropriation includes $787,000 for youth-specific grants.
“We have a homelessness crisis here in Washington, and the fact that more than 35,000 students lack safe and reliable housing is a moral failing on our part,” said bill sponsor Rep. Jake Fey (D-Tacoma). “With the signing of this bill today we can begin to right that wrong and improve the lives of thousands of young people in our state.”
“Almost every classroom in Washington has a homeless student at a desk,” said Sen. David Frockt, (D-Seattle). "That is why, with advocates at Columbia Legal Services and a team of law students from the University of Washington, we began work three years ago to tackle this crisis head-on in order to supplement the inadequate resources provided by the federal government. Homeless students constitute a significant part of our state opportunity gap, with very low graduation rates. Throughout the debate on this bill, we heard from homeless students who had succeeded whenever they could find a little bit of support. I am thrilled that, through this legislation, we will be expanding these efforts to reach more kids who need the help.˝
“The Tacoma Housing Authority counts its partnership with Tacoma Public Schools as central to its housing mission,” said Michael Mirra, executive director of the Tacoma Housing Authority. “If we can spend a housing dollar to not only house families but also to help their children succeed in school, it is a very good use of a housing dollar. HB 1682 will help strengthen our partnership and help build such partnerships in other communities.”