Needles littered the ground throughout a homeless encampment at Federal Way’s Hylebos Wetlands, which is public property. Sound Publishing file photo

Needles littered the ground throughout a homeless encampment at Federal Way’s Hylebos Wetlands, which is public property. Sound Publishing file photo

Republican leadership doubts effectiveness of homelessness spending

Democrats propose hundreds of millions toward affordable housing.

By Cameron Sheppard, WNPA News Service

Republican leaders in Washington state said they are not confident that spending on homelessness proposed by the Democrats will produce significant results.

On Feb. 24, Democrats from the Washington House and Senate proposed separate supplemental operating budgets following a $1.5 billion increase in expected revenue. Each proposal designated more than $100 million to fund affordable and supportive housing with the intent to address homelessness.

The House budget proposal, put together by Rep. Timm Ormsby, D-Spokane, allotted more than $230 million to reduce homelessness.

“I don’t think it’s the amount, it is how it’s spent,” said Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville. “Just throwing money at it hasn’t worked.”

Schoesler said from what he has seen, he is not confident that either of the budget proposals would produce impactful results within the next year.

Rep. Drew Stokesbary, R-Auburn, and Sen. Randi Becker, R-Eatonville, agreed with Schoesler.

“Simply putting more money in the exact same things we have been putting money in for the last five years isn’t sufficient,” Stokesbary said.

According to Stokesbary, the approach that Seattle has taken to mitigate homelessness is “failed.” Stokesbary said the governor seems to be supporting the same kind of housing investment approach that Seattle has pursued, which has only exacerbated the problem.

Becker said she was in favor of alternative solutions proposed by Sen. Hans Zeiger, R-Puyallup, which provide “ways forward” for homeless individuals.

Zeiger sponsored Senate Bill 5261, which would have created a pilot program to incentivize cities to hire homeless individuals for certain city projects. The bill had bipartisan support, but never left committee during this session.

“We need to have the compassion to help people, but we also have to have the will to give people tough love,” Stokesbary said.


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