Advocacy in Olympia 2014This is a guest post provided by Erika Malone from Homestead Community Land Trust, an organization working to provide permanently affordable home ownership in Seattle. If you have questions about these issues or if you’d like to learn more about what they do, you can find information here.

If you rent, own or hope to own a home in the Seattle area, you know that housing costs can be a huge burden, particularly for families. One Seattle couple, Paul and Noni, realized exactly how difficult it is to find affordable housing when they had their daughter. The basement one-bedroom they were renting in Beacon Hill was fine for when it was just the two of them, but with one-year-old Gwen crawling around the place, they needed more space and wanted stability for their daughter. Even working two jobs, Paul knew he couldn’t afford to rent a 2-bedroom—let alone buy any size home—in Seattle. When he came across a listing for a home he could afford to buy on Craigslist, it seemed too good to be true.

It wasn’t; when they met with Homestead Community Land Trust, they learned that they actually could buy a home, even in Seattle, and pay about what they were already spending on rent. Just over a year after buying a three-bedroom home in Columbia City, Paul and Noni love knowing they’ll get to watch Gwen grow up in their house, make friends with the neighborhood kids and even go to middle school right down the street. This wouldn’t be possible without Homestead’s affordable homeownership programs. Homestead needs the state’s Housing Trust Fund, which is critical in making it possible to create affordable housing opportunities for low- and moderate-income families in Seattle. And now Homestead and other programs that rely on the Housing Trust Fund need your support.

Homestead Community Land Trust is one of the many nonprofit organizations that rely on the Housing Trust Fund to create and maintain affordable housing for these families. Homestead’s work focuses on affordable homeownership: by bringing homes into the affordable housing stock and stewarding the permanent affordability of affordable homes, Homestead makes it possible for modest income families—teachers, health care workers, social service and nonprofit employees and more—to achieve their homeownership dreams. Our work doesn’t stop there, Homestead continues to work with homeowner’s to ensure their success and ensures that homes stay affordable even when they are sold by the original buyers.

Throughout our history, the Housing Trust Fund has been one of the most significant resources for Homestead to acquire homes and make sure they will remain permanently affordable. But the Housing Trust Fund doesn’t just support Homestead. It funds homes all over the state and all along the continuum of need, from community-stabilizing homeownership programs like ours, to emergency shelters and housing for people leaving homelessness, to low-cost rental homes for the lowest-income families, seniors and people with disabilities. Plus, housing is a huge economic driver for our region—each dollar in the Housing Trust Fund leverages four- to five-times that much economic activity!

The state legislature determines how much to invest in the Housing Trust Fund every year. The legislature is meeting right now to finalize a budget. We’re disappointed that neither of the Supplemental Capital Budget’s passed by the House and Senate last week invest in the Housing Trust Fund at a level that will ensure Washington has enough affordable homes.

With less than two weeks left (session is scheduled to end on March 13), now is the time to tell your representatives that you want them to do better and make a more significant investment in affordable homes. Please show your support for Homestead and for people struggling to afford homes in Seattle and across the state by calling the Legislative Hotline and leaving a message for your legislators and the Governor asking them to increase funding for affordable housing.

It’s easy and will take less than 2 minutes. You don’t even need to know your legislative district, just your address.

Call 1.800.562.6000 and ask the volunteer who answers to deliver a message to your three legislators and the Governor. After providing your address, leave the following message (feel free to personalize it!).

“Everyone should have the opportunity to live in a safe, healthy, affordable home. I’m disappointed that neither the House nor the Senate Capital Budget invests enough in affordable housing. How are children supposed to thrive in school without an affordable home? Please make sure that the final budget includes a larger investment in the State Housing Trust Fund.”

To learn more about Homestead and our affordable homeownership programs, visit http://www.HomesteadCLT.org. For ongoing coverage of how the legislature is doing on supporting affordable housing, visit Homestead’s state advocacy partner, the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance at http://wliha.org. If you’d like to know a little more about the Housing Trust Fund, visit this page: http://wliha.org/advocacy/state and scroll down to the State Legislative Agenda section.

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Homestead (Guest Contributor)
Erika Malone (Guest Contributor)