Homelessness, behavioral health take precedence in ‘historic’ WA spending plan

The Washington Legislature is using one of the largest infusions of federal money in state history to invest in a wide spectrum of attempts to reduce homelessness.

Supported largely by surplus revenue, fewer debts and leftover federal funds from the American Rescue Plan, the extra money meant Democrats could be ambitious in their spending to address some of the state’s hot-button issues around homelessness.

Lawmakers passed $300 million to rapidly acquire properties to use for housing and shelters. They also reacted to growing concerns about people living outdoors near highways by allocating $45 million to clearing those areas. Rental and utility assistance, raising wages for homeless services workers, and behavioral health were some of the other big-ticket items that received additional funding this cycle.

Many housing advocates are applauding the “historic” investments in combating homelessness while others believe not all spending on homelessness issues is good.