(Washington, D.C.) – On Thurs., U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), held a virtual roundtable with the Vancouver Housing Authority and local housing providers, as well as recipients of federal housing relief from the Vancouver area, to discuss how the American Rescue Plan Act has helped people in Clark County make rent and keep a roof over their head. Vancouver Housing Authority was the first housing authority in Washington state to issue all of the rental assistance vouchers they received thanks to the American Rescue Plan.
Senator Murray was joined by Andy Silver, Chief Operation Officer of the Vancouver Housing Authority and Executive Director for the Council for the Homeless; Katie Louis, Director of Affordable Housing and Stability at Share Vancouver; Aristotle Stout, Pauline Crowell, and Jacqueline Alley, who are all American Rescue Plan Emergency Housing Voucher recipients; Terrell Berry, Case Manager of Janus Youth Programs; and Kahlia Ventura, Case Manager of Sea-Mar-Community Services Northwest. Each of the voucher recipients reiterated the need to affirm the dignity houseless people and credited the American Rescue Plan Emergency Housing Vouchers with providing important help to stay housed.
During the call, Senator Murray highlighted her push to include a major federal investment in direct support for people facing housing insecurity as part of the American Rescue Plan, which Democrats passed in March, including rental, utility, and mortgage assistance, as well as funding for housing authorities to provide more affordable housing and housing solutions for people experiencing homelessness.
“Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, more people in Vancouver are able to keep a roof over their heads and families have the assistance necessary to remain in their homes during this pandemic. But we can’t stop here,” said Senator Murray. “We faced a severe housing crisis before this pandemic and we need to start working toward a long-term solution to make sure housing is affordable for everyone. So I fought to make sure the Build Back Better Act we’re finalizing in the Senate right now will include the largest investment in affordable housing in our nation’s history.
“What that will mean for people in Vancouver is more affordable housing and more rental and down payment assistance to help make sure they’re paying less to keep a roof over their heads,” Senator Murray continued. “And equity is going to be a key piece of this, by investing in community-led projects in historically under-resourced neighborhoods. I want to be clear that we need to do more to really tackle the housing crisis, but this is an important step forward.”
Senator Murray has continued working to ensure people in Vancouver and across the state have the federal support they need to keep a roof over their heads, and is pushing for the largest federal investment in affordable housing support and rental assistance in the Build Back Better Act that Senate Democrats are currently finalizing. Build Back Better would enable the construction, rehabilitation, and improvement of more than 1 million affordable homes across the country, boosting housing supply and reducing price pressures for renters and homeowners. It would make a historic investment in rental assistance, expanding vouchers to hundreds of thousands of additional families. And, it includes one of the largest investments in down payment assistance in history, enabling hundreds of thousands of first-generation homebuyers to purchase their first home and build wealth.
This legislation would create more equitable communities, through investing in community-led redevelopment projects in historically under-resourced neighborhoods and removing lead paint from hundreds of thousands of homes, as well as by incentivizing state and local zoning reforms that enable more families to reside in higher opportunity neighborhoods.