Gov. Jay Inslee announced that his office is proposing a $4 billion plan to allocate more state funding towards housing solutions, but would require voter approval.

On Dec. 14, Inslee proposed a statewide voter referendum that would raise $4 billion over the next six years, issuing bonds outside Washington’s debt limit.

If accepted, this referendum would be included in the $70 billion 2023-25 operating budget.

This bond would go towards securing housing for those who fall under the 80% AMI, funding approximately 2,200 units between 2023 and 2025.

By 2044, the state would need an additional one million housing units to meet the state’s growing population, and would need to build 45,900 homes each year to meet that figure. 

“We cannot fix homelessness unless we build more housing,” Inslee said. “Unfortunately, the market conditions exist, that the private market will not produce the housing units we need to actually house the people who live in the state of Washington.”

According to the proposal, the 2022 Point in Time count for Wash. state found that nearly 25,400 individuals are unhoused or living in homeless shelters, with 13,000 individuals living without any shelter. 

Funds would also cover 2,000 additional shelter beds, provide housing for those with developmental disabilities, assist first-time homeowners, and provide housing for each income bracket.

Both legislators and voters would need to approve this proposed referendum in order for this to be accepted.

“This is a reality based budget. It is not based on wishes, or hopes or dreams,” Inslee said. “It is not based on the theory that somehow you can dream away homelessness, or you can vaporize people that you feel [are] inconvenient, living on the corner, it is based on a reality that this investment is necessary both because we care about our fellow citizens.”

Inslee states that the 2023-25 operating budget would also prioritize increasing funds for mental health services, early education and social services, ecological preservation for salmon populations, and towards clean energy solutions.

Discussion on the 2023-25 operating budget will commence once the state enters the 2023 legislative session on Jan. 9.

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