Affordable housing

Overview

There is a significant shortage of housing for persons suffering from chronic mental illness or substance abuse disorders. Thousands of Washingtonians are stuck in institutional settings, or are homeless for lack of suitable housing.

In 2017 the Washington Legislature provided funding to the Department of Commerce to create a Supportive Housing Manager. This position is tasked with coordinating with the Health Care Authority (HCA), the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) and other state agencies to expand the availability of supportive housing for persons with mental health conditions or substance use disorders. 

Supportive housing, sometimes referred to as Permanent Supportive Housing, provides eligible clients with a permanent rental subsidy. It also makes available voluntary supportive services designed to assist tenants with housing stability. Supportive housing is a critical housing intervention for every community in Washington, and is part of the solution to ending homelessness.

Current Funding Opportunities

The Washington State Department of Commerce (Commerce) is now soliciting applications for funding of facility operations, maintenance, and supportive service costs for housing units dedicated to permanent supportive housing that were funded by the Washington State Housing Trust Fund or other public capital funding. You can find the Notice of Funding Availability and all applicable documents here.

Programs

Housing and Recovery through Peer Services (HARPS)

Beginning in mid-2017, Commerce contracted with the Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery (DBHR) at the Health Care Authority to provide continuing permanent housing subsidies to eligible clients under the HARPS program. HARPS provides supportive services and up to three months of rent assistance. For those who need and qualify for a longer subsidy, the Commerce-funded rent subsidies can be applied to maintain housing stability for participants. For more information, contact Wanda Johns at (360) 725-1947 or wanda.johns@hca.wa.gov

Community Behavioral Health Rental Assistance (CBRA)

The Office of Supportive Housing has contracted with four non-profit housing providers across the state to pay rental subsidies under a new pilot program. CBRA pays rental subsidies for clients who are eligible for the state’s Foundation Community Supports Program. These clients may be in institutional settings or experiencing homelessness within their communities, and can receive housing support services paid by Medicaid. The current contracts expire on June 30, 2021. The four current housing providers are:

Coastal Community Action Program         Grays Harbor and Pacific Counties

Metropolitan Development Council            Pierce County

Opportunity Council                                      Whatcom County

Catholic Charities Eastern Washington     Spokane County

For more information, contact Jeff Spring at 360.725.2991 or jeff.spring@commerce.wa.gov.

Section 811

The Section 811 Project Rental Assistance Demonstration (811 PRA) grant awarded to Commerce by the Office of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) of $5.7 million will provide project-based rental assistance to extremely low-income, non-elderly disabled households for a period of five years (with annual renewals thereafter based upon Congressional appropriations). For more information, visit the webpage.

Landlord Fund Programs

Landlord Mitigation Program

Washington State’s Landlord Mitigation Law (RCW 43.31.605) became effective June 7, 2018. It provides landlords with an incentive and added security to work with tenants receiving rental assistance. The program offers up to $1,000 to the landlord in reimbursement for some potentially required move-in upgrades, up to fourteen days’ rent loss and up to $5,000 in qualifying damages caused by a tenant during tenancy. For more information, visit the website.

Tenancy Preservation Program

Evictions have proven to be a leading cause of new cases of homelessness throughout Washington. The Tenancy Prevention Program benefits both landlord and tenant by maintaining the tenancy. This prevents landlords from facing vacancy and turn over losses while preventing an eviction that would create barriers in the tenant’s ability to find and rent future housing.

Washington State’s Tenancy Preservation Program (2019 amendments to RCW 59.18.410(3) and 43.31.605(c)) became effective on June 29th, 2019  The program reduces homelessness by providing relief to low-income tenants facing eviction for non-payment of rent.   In court-approved cases, Commerce will issue a temporary loan to landlords to preserve tenancy.  Tenants have up to 90 days to repay the loan. For more information, visit the website.