The 2022 state legislative session is already halfway through, and this is the second year that session has been remote. Hearings have all been on Zoom and we continue to adapt and create new strategies for connecting with lawmakers and other key government partners who we cannot meet with in person.
Good news on our youth health care bill
We are excited to share that Senate Bill 5883, our youth health care bill, passed out of the Senate and is awaiting a vote from the House. Senate Bill 5883 would help unaccompanied homeless youth under 18 access health care.
Unaccompanied homeless youth are young people who are experiencing homelessness while not in the physical custody of a parent or guardian. These young people have historically faced many challenges in accessing health care. Examples include a young person who is unable to get an inhaler to help with their asthma, or a young person who cannot participate in school sports because they are unable get a physical. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, this population has and continues to face massive barriers in accessing the COVID-19 care and testing. Senate Bill 5883 would help unaccompanied youth under 18 consent to their own primary health care.
Some bad news and good news on budget proposals and other bills
House & Senate budget proposals were released recently, as well. Unfortunately, our $450,000 ask for the Homeless Student Stability Program (HSSP) was not included in the proposals, but we testified in the budget hearings requesting that it be added to the final budget. The Homeless Student Stability Program (HSSP) is a grant program with the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and the Office of Homeless Youth (OHY) to improve education and housing outcomes for students and families experiencing homelessness. Our 2022 HSSP ask would add more staff compacity at OHY.
We were very happy to see that the House Capital budget proposal included $100 million for the Housing Trust Fund. The Housing Trust Fund is a state fund that provides investments to nonprofits and public housing authorities toward affordable housing for people in low-income households, including those experiencing homelessness. We hope that the final budget will keep the House’s $100 million proposal.
Two other bills that we have been supporting and are moving successfully through the legislative process include House Bill 1905, which would help reduce homelessness for youth and young adults discharging from a publicly funded system of care, and House Bill 1833, which would make it easier for students and families to participate in schools meal programs.
For more information on our 2022 legislative work, check out our 2022 Legislative Agenda.