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In the 2020 session, the Economic Justice group emphasized housing, food, and income in its priorities, with top priorities in housing. The legislature passed a remarkable wave of bills in this area, providing $174 million in resources for the state’s affordable housing and homelessness needs. Showing the importance of the issues, all of this spending has survived the Governor’s April budget-reducing vetoes.

On Lobby Day, Quaker Voice advocated a modest increase in the Housing and Essential Needs rental assistance program, and the legislative provided more than we asked — $15 million a year. We also worked for a bill that allows renters to pay move-in costs over three months instead of having to provide them all at the start of a lease. This provision helps everyone, particularly low-income families that struggle to save enough for the big, one-time move-in bill. This bill passed and has been signed into law.

A third priority item for Quaker Lobby Day passed the House but not the Senate, the “Just Cause” bill, designed to prevent arbitrary evictions. Some cities have passed similar ordinances, and Quaker Voice will be back next year, advocating for fair ground rules for tenant/landlord relations statewide.

Other victories for the movement to address housing and homelessness issues in the state include $68 million for shelter for people experiencing homelessness and an additional $15 million per year for three years for supportive housing for people whose homelessness is extended because of behavioral and physical health needs. The budget also included $55 million for the Housing Trust Fund, which is dedicated to building and preserving affordable homes. It received its largest two-year total ever $230 million total over the biennial session. All these items survived the April cuts.

April 20, 2020

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