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A $2.2 Billion COVID-19 Relief Bill is Now Enacted in Washington State

Written by ULMS staff member, Maya Manus

What is it and what does it mean for you?

Last Friday, Governor Jay Inslee signed into law Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1368 (ESHB 1368), responding to the COVID-19 pandemic through state actions supported by federal funding.

What a mouthful. So, let’s break down this package to what it will mean to Washington individuals, families, and business owners.

First, a bit of back story about where this funding is coming from: It is federal dollars from a combination of the Consolidated Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA), and the Coronavirus Relief Fund under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). Essentially, the $2.2 billion COVID-19 relief package is federal funding already given to Washington state. It is not the possible funding from the current coronavirus relief package that is still developing.

Second, the purpose and scope of ESHB 1368 is to budget this federal funding to the needs of Washingtonians. ESHB 1368 has statewide assistance programs benefiting housing, small business, income programs, early learning and public education, childcare, food security, and public health–especially around vaccine distribution and testing.

Finally, each program will receive a certain amount of funding and have qualifications for assistance. The funding is expected to be spent by June 30, 2021 and will start right away. Please look out for updates from us and local agencies on assistance because you must apply in order to receive the benefits.

For more information on the specific programs and their scope please read below.

Housing and Rental Assistance – $365M

This is not the biggest chuck of the funding, but it is the one on everyone’s mind. How are we going to ensure the housing stability for all in Washington State?

  • $325M will go directly to emergency rental and utility assistance. There will be a priority to those experiencing unemployment and historically disadvantage.
  • $30M for eviction assistance to those who are currently facing the eviction process.
  • $4M for foreclosure assistance, either from mortgage or property tax delinquency.
  • $2M to small landlords who tenants failed to pay.

There is also funding for dispute resolution centers and the Attorney General’s office for assistance with the eviction moratorium.

Business Assistance – $240M

This will ensure that small businesses in our state have the assistance needed to reopen and operate.

  • $150M will aid with business operations for businesses with gross receipts of $5M or less.
  • $90M to assist in reopening businesses that temporarily or totally closed.

Businesses may receive upwards of $75,000 grants for operating costs.

Income Assistance – $91 M

This funding will be able to provide direct cash to individuals and families.

  • $12M to the Disaster Cash Program. This will provide cash benefits to individuals and families during the pandemic. This funding is dependent on HB 1151 passing.
  • $4.7M for increasing SNAP benefits.
  • $9M to increase the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and suspend time limits.
  • $65M for Washington Immigrant Relief Fund for those who are not eligible for any of the other benefits.

Child Care – $50M

Financial support for childcare providers.

Food Assistance – $26M

This funding will go to food banks and other food assistance programs.

K-12 Assistance – $714M

This is the biggest chunk of the funding. It will help open schools and return to in-person instruction.

Public Health Response – 618M

Assistance with COVID testing, contact tracing, and vaccine efforts.

We hope this was helpful to be able to show that relief is on its way. There are more policies moving in Olympia to help Washington individuals, families, and youth recover from this pandemic. To stay up to date, please check out our Legislative Framework or sign up for updates.

By Maya Manus, Advocacy Organizer, for any questions: