When Mindy Woods lost her apartment to a black mold infestation she also lost her pet-sitting business.
With no family nearby, Woods, a single mother, resorted to couch-surfing with her teenage son who has Type 1 diabetes. Turns out, finding a refrigerator for his insulin was one of the biggest challenges.
“I couldn’t live out of my car,” said Woods. “I needed a hand up, not a handout.”
It wasn’t until Woods found the YMCA’s program Pathways for Women that she felt a more stable life was in sight.
Woods is among thousands of homeless people, who turn to homeless services in times of desperation.
Many of these services depend on on “document recording fees” for the majority of funding. These fees come from homebuyers, who pay $40 during real estate transactions, that fund about 60 percent of programs that transition a homeless person into shelters and more stable housing. It pays for emergency and transitional shelters, rental assistance and supportive services.
In 2006, a law passed mandating these fees until 2015. House Bill 2368 would make these fees permanent. It passed out of the House on Feb. 13, but never came up for a vote in the Senate Financial Institutions, Housing and Insurance Committee.
Bill critics, including Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Medina, have previously said the fee has increased too much from the original $10 surcharge in 2005. Also, opponents object to taking immediate action because the charge would not decrease until the summer of 2015.
Now, lawmakers and homeless organizations are trying to resurrect the bill before the gavel drops in six days. Senate Democrats attempted to bring the bill up for a vote using a procedural motion called “Ninth Order” on Feb. 28 but did not have enough votes.
The Washington Low Income Housing Alliance brought homeless advocates to the capitol to ring a gong 5,043 times to represent the 5,043 unsheltered homeless people recorded during the most recent “one night count.” The bill’s prime sponsor, Rep. David Sawyer, D-Tacoma, along with other supporters attended a press conference to bring attention to the bill.
Sawyer said this is a bill about “moral consciousness.”
More than 30,000 students are homeless in Washington, which is nearly 50 percent higher from a few years ago.
Also, Gov. Jay Inslee raised concerns about the rising number of homeless students and voiced his support of the bill at a press conference Thursday and said it “does not make sense” to decrease support for homelessness.
“The myth that this isn’t needed is beyond me,” said Sen. Jeannie Darneille, D-Tacoma. “Now is the time to finish this debate from taking homeless people hostage.”