Cities with populations over 15K will have to increase homeless shelter capacity if new bill passes

The bill also applies to counties with over 40,000 people

OLYMPIA, Wash. — A legislative bill is mandating that cities with a population over 15,000 must establish a homeless housing plan and expand shelter capacity.

House Bill 2649 aims to align local homeless services with Washington state guidelines.

The bill applies to counties with a population over 40,000 and to cities with over 15,000 people. The county and those cities would have to amend their current plans by next December, providing expanded shelter space or camping capacity “equivalent to at least 50 percent of the people in the jurisdiction” who live in places unfit for habitation.

According to the bill, finding this number is simply a matter of consulting the homeless management information system or an annual Point In Time (PIT) count.

If the bill is voted in, respective county and city plans must include laws, policies and resource changes that will accommodate larger shelter space by December. Additionally, local governments must make recommendations for changes required at the state level to help them reach their goal.

There are several measures included in bolstering local plans:

  • Rental/furnishing of living units
  • Costs for developing transitional/permanent housing
  • Subsidies for transitional housing
  • Emergency eviction prevention programs and rental subsidies
  • Outreach services
  • Census data collection
  • Performance measures
  • Cost evaluation
  • Rental vouchers

You can read the full House Bill 2649 here.