Washington State receives emergency vouchers for homelessness relief

Washington State will receive 2,443 emergency housing vouchers from the federal government for individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness.


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U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Marcia L. Fudge announced Monday the allocation of $5 billion in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for emergency housing vouchers for individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness. Fudge made the announcement during a Zoom call with members of Congress, including U.S. Sen. Patty Murray. 

In a release, Fudge said:

“While most of us spent more time in our homes than we ever have, more than half a million Americans had to spend the last year either in crowded shelters or sleeping outside. With HUD’s swift allocation of this $5 billion in American Rescue Plan funding, we are providing communities the resources to give homes to the people who have had to endure the COVID-19 pandemic without one. Congress now needs to pass the President’s American Jobs Plan. This once-in-a-generation investment would bring the United States closer to ending homelessness and housing instability.”

The supplemental funding is allocated through the Emergency Housing Voucher (EHV) program. Through EHV, HUD is providing 70,000 housing choice vouchers to local public housing authorities (PHAs) across the country to help Americans find and remain in housing. Click here for a full list of initial allocations.

The vouchers are targeted towards individuals and families who are homeless, at risk of homelessness, have a high risk of housing instability or are fleeing or attempting to flee domestic violence.

The Seattle Housing Authority and the Housing Authority of King County will receive the largest number of vouchers with 494 and 756 respectively. The Housing Authority of Spokane will receive the third largest allocation with 222.

Murray credits the ARPA funds for making these vouchers possible.

“The American Rescue Plan is working, bringing more than $400 million in rental assistance to Washington state and hundreds of millions more in homeowner and homelessness assistance – including the emergency housing vouchers we’re talking about today. The legislation we sent to President Biden’s desk is making an important difference in people’s lives, especially for people of color who have felt the disproportionate impact of this crisis. We’re making real progress to get our communities back to ‘normal’ — but that isn’t good enough when ‘normal’ wasn’t working for so many before the pandemic. We faced a housing crisis before the pandemic, and we need to keep working to pass the American Jobs Plan — to help our country build back stronger and fairer than before.”

According to a report released by HUD in March, Washington State experienced a 6.2% increase in homelessness between 2019-2020, during this time 30 out of every 10,000 people in the state were homeless.

The $5 billion in EHV-ARPA funding gives communities the resources needed to help eligible households find and remain in housing. HUD estimates that these EHVs, alongside resources provided by the CARES Act, could help house 130,000 households.

The $5 billion in EHV-ARPA funding is the second of two homelessness-related funding opportunities from the American Rescue Plan Act that HUD released. In April, HUD announced the allocation of $5 billion in ARPA funds to increase affordable housing to address homelessness.