On the road: Inslee tours solar panel installation projects, new crime lab and supportive housing in the Yakima Valley

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On Friday, Gov. Jay Inslee traveled to Yakima Valley, where he highlighted central Washington’s growing clean energy economy, new crime lab and supportive housing devleopments.

The governor met with farmworkers in Toppenish who recently installed solar panels and other energy-efficiency upgrades in their homes, as part of a Department of Commerce pilot program. The families’ energy bills have come down to zero or near-zero dollars per month as a result of the project. Washington’s Climate Commitment Act is making it possible for the state to dramatically expand and accelerate programs like this one, allowing more Washingtonians to leave fossil fuels behind and take advantage of the clean energy economy.

The governor also toured the newly opened Yakima Valley Local Crime Lab. The new lab is already helping local investigators to generate leads and close cases faster, since they no longer have to wait for results from evidence analysis labs in Spokane or western Washington.  

The governor’s final stop of the day was the Neighborhood Apartments, where a former motel is being converted to a supportive housing facility. The state provided nearly $5 million from a recently-created Rapid Housing Capital Acquisition Program to buy the property. This funding has been crucial to addressing homelessness by quickly developing housing and shelter options throughout the state. The governor will also met with residents at another nearby supportive housing complex, the Rhonda D. Rauff Community Resource Center. Converted from an abandoned grocery store, with $2.35 million from Washington's Housing Trust Fund, the center now provides housing for 40 people with disabilities.

Washington is going big on housing. More than one million new homes must be built in the next 20 years to ensure adequate housing supply. During the last session, the Legislature allocated more than $1 billion to address housing. Inslee will be urging legislators to sustain funding for the rapid housing and shelter programs being used to transition people out of homelessness.   

More about the day: