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.

Funding Opportunity

The Department of Commerce is soliciting applications from qualified owners/operators of permanent supportive housing (PSH) projects for funding of operating and maintenance costs, as well as reimbursement for the cost of supportive services offered to clients in PSH units. Qualified applicants own or operate multifamily housing projects funded by the Washington State Housing Trust Fund, or other public capital funding sources. The Notice of Funding Availability and application can be found here.

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.

The Community Behavioral Health Rental Assistance (CBRA) and Housing and Recovery Through Peer Services Long-Term Subsidies( HARPS LTS) programs provide permanent rental subsidy for high-risk individuals and households with behavioral health conditions. When partnered with programs offering supportive housing services such as Washington’s Foundational Community Supports (FCS) program, Aging and Long-Term Supports (ALTSA) programs, Housing and Recovery through Peer Services (HARPS) programs, or others, highly-vulnerable persons with complex behavioral health needs have opportunities to live independently in the communities of their choice.

In July 2020, the Office of Supportive Housing will begin the process of combining the CBRA and HARPS LTS program under the name Community Behavioral Health Rental Assistance Program.

Visit the webpage here.

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.