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Friday, September 24, 2021

Commerce Department Awards $39 Million To Address Homelessness

OLYMPIA — The Washington State Department of Commerce recently announced $39.1 million in grants to five projects that will help address the state’s homeless crisis by acquiring 307 housing units that will quickly be available to serve people with extremely low incomes or who are experiencing homelessness.

Grant recipients are:

• City of Vancouver Housing Authority – $5.1 million to provide 62 shelter units at Bertha’s Place in Clark County.

• King County – $8.9 million to provide 84 shelter units in the Federal Way Red Lion Inn.

• Low Income Housing Institute – Three projects located in King County:

* $10.89 million for 69 permanent supportive housing units at the 225 Harvard Apartments

* $8.39 million for 58 permanent supportive housing units at the Boylston Apartments

* $5.76 million for 34 permanent supportive housing units at the 506 10th Apartments

All of the projects have additional funding from other non-state sources. More project details are available here.

This is the first phase of awards from a new Rapid Capital Housing Acquisition program administered by the state’s Housing Trust Fund at Commerce. The 2021-23 state capital budget provides approximately $93.8 million for acquisition or rental of property that can be rapidly converted into enhanced emergency shelters, permanent supportive housing, transitional housing, youth housing, permanent housing, drop-in centers or shelters.

“This funding will rapidly add units we need to keep more people housed as the economic impact of the pandemic continues to stress local resources,” said Commerce Director Lisa Brown.

In 2020, communities were forced to reduce capacity or close congregate shelters altogether due to the pandemic. As demand for hotel rooms plummeted and some new apartment projects were in jeopardy, leasing shelter units and acquiring permanent housing units became feasible. These investments will help make the homeless services continuum more resilient and capable of keeping people housed permanently.

First phase funding was limited to organizations acquiring properties that are capable of housing people swiftly, with minimal updates and with evidence of local support. Two more funding opportunities follow, with the Phase Two grant application expected to open Sept. 30 and close Nov. 30, 2021. These subsequent funding rounds anticipate additional acquisition and rehabilitation activities, with expectations that housing units be in service within 90 or 180 days of project start.

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