The 2022 Washington State legislative session adjourned on March 10, marking the end of another historic virtual session. WSCADV member programs identified continuation of domestic violence services and affordable housing as the highest priorities for survivors and their families. We are delighted to share that our funding priorities were included in the final supplemental budgets. Below are our highlights from this year’s legislative session.
$7.5 million for crime victim services included in budget!
Our budget request of $7.5 million for crime victim services was included in the final supplemental operating budget! Domestic violence programs count on federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funding to meet survivor needs like legal advocacy, mental health support, and safe housing assistance. This funding also allows programs to invest in adequate staffing, living wages, and advocate training. In 2021, the legislature passed our request for $15 million in supplemental funding, but due to further shortfalls, more was needed. This was our top priority this session. Thank you to our membership for their advocacy and stories, and to our legislative champions for recognizing the importance of this funding.
Domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness for women and children. Survivors and their families need access to housing. We advocate for funds and measures that can help stop the cycle of both homelessness and domestic violence.
- The capital budget includes $113 million for the Housing Trust Fund, and $300 million for rapid acquisition. This new funding brings the biennial total for the Housing Trust Fund and rapid acquisition to about $708 million!
- HB 1593 expands the Landlord Mitigation Program to allow landlords to claim for damages related to rental when the tenant has terminated their tenancy because of domestic violence, sexual assault, unlawful harassment, or stalking. This expansion would improve safety by reducing barriers for survivors when exercising their right to terminate a lease early without repercussions.
Community Economic Resilience
The second biggest risk factor for experiencing domestic violence is limited financial resources, which can entrap people in abusive relationships. Access to cash gives survivors more choices, making them safer and more stable. Survivors often access assistance when they are trying to leave abusive relationships, or to begin to rebuild financial stability after an abusive partner has sabotaged their finances.
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Funding: Families currently on a hardship extension won’t have to worry about their benefits getting cut this June. The budget includes $10.9 million to maintain this exemption for one more year.
- TANF Bills: HB 1755 will add time limit extensions during times of high unemployment in our state. SB 5838 provides all TANF households with children under the age of three $100 per month for diapers. SB 5785 directs the Department of Social and Health Services to provide transitional food assistance for five months to a household that can no longer receive TANF.
- HB 2075 establishes service requirements for the Department of Social and Health Services, including opening Community Service Offices for in-person services.
- The operating budget includes $10 million for Working Families Tax Credit outreach! These funds will go toward supporting thousands of Washingtonians in accessing the WFTC come 2023.
Other Bills We Supported
- Birth doulas are now recognized as a new health profession. HB 1881 allows doulas to voluntarily apply for state certification, paving the way for doula coverage under Medicaid.
- Families of missing Indigenous persons bear the responsibility of searching for their missing loved ones due to inconsistent responses from law enforcement. HB 1725 requires the State Patrol to establish a Missing Indigenous Women and Persons alert designation.
- HB 1956 protects sensitive prison records from being released through the Public Records Act. Sensitive records at risk of disclosure include body scanner images, sexual abuse prevention plans, gender identity, genital anatomy, sexual orientation, and more.
Thank you to everyone who responded to our action alerts and participated in our virtual Domestic Violence Advocacy Day. We had over 100 advocates and survivors participate in our virtual rally before our legislative appointments!