Sen. Cantwell wants to double funds for affordable housing in Washington

By:  Sebastian Robertson
Source: KING 5 News

RENTON, Wash. — New legislation introduced by Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) is aimed at helping solve Washington state's housing crisis. If passed, more funding would go towards affordable housing.

William Hayes of Renton currently lives in a subsidized unit with his two elderly parents. If it weren’t for this affordable housing unit in Renton, they’d be back in a motel.

“They’d still be paying $2,800 to $3,000 a month for a hotel,” Hayes said.

Affordable housing is keeping Hayes off the streets. It's housing paid for through a program that Sen. Cantwell wants to double over the next ten years.

“Whether you’re in Spokane or Walla Walla, whether you’re in Yakima or Vancouver, we have a housing crisis in the state of Washington,” said Cantwell from D.C. on Tuesday morning.

The bill, which has bipartisan support, is called the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2019. If passed by Congress, the new legislation would fund more than 10,000 housing units in the state over the next decade – expanding the existing program.

The funds would go towards building more housing like Hayes' complex in Renton, June Leonard Place, which opened just this year. 

“We were full within two months of opening. It says to me that there is a desperate need for this housing, but that is no surprise to me or to anyone who hasn’t been under a rock,” said Lynne Behar of the Low Income Housing Institute.

June Leonard Place has 43 units. The building next door, which is under different management, holds dozen more, including the formerly homeless, veterans and low-income families. The residents, like Hayes, don’t plan on going back on the streets.

“I used to be one of them – I’ve been homeless four times in my life. They want to keep me down, but I’m too strong a person,” Hayes said.