Sen. Jan Angel today sent a letter to the governor requesting his leadership in establishing a task force to evaluate funding sources for local homeless housing and assistance.
Her decision to hold House Bill 2368, a measure that would extend a temporary surcharge tax to support homelessness, in the financial institutions, housing and insurance committee has caused a flurry of controversy and inaccurate accusations, despite her good intentions.
“I was half an inch away from being homeless myself, so this issue is extremely important to me, despite what others are so quick to assume,” said Angel, R-Port Orchard. “People need to understand all of the facts surrounding an issue before they point fingers.”
Angel said her main concerns about HB 2368 have to do with a lack of supporting data and reporting from the state Department of Commerce, strong discord among involved stakeholders, and the fact that the surcharge tax falls on the backs of one small and unpredictable sector.
“This isn’t a matter of being for or against homeless people. This is about finding a sustainable solution that is agreed upon by all affected stakeholders – things that the measure did not do.
“That’s why I have called on the governor for his leadership. I am sure that he would agree that Washingtonians living in cars should be at the top of our priority list.
“When you are put in a leadership position, you have to be willing to make the tough calls for the betterment of people. As co-chair of the committee, I decided to hold the measure because I know we can do better.”
Angel said the current surcharge tax is at the mercy of virtually one industry that experiences severe peaks and dips depending on the economy. Instead of putting this kind of responsibility on the backs of one small sector, she is looking to the governor to help pull everyone together to evaluate more stable and permanent funding options that would truly meet the needs of the homeless.