An increasing and unacceptable number of Washington citizens are becoming homeless. The reasons for homelessness are many and complex. They include a lack of affordable housing, wages and transfer payments which do not keep up with the rising cost of housing, domestic violence, shortage of special housing with support services for persons with mental illnesses, the problems of alcoholism and substance abuse, and the growing number of troubled youth.
Private businesses, charitable organizations, cities, counties, the federal government, and the State of Washington have started to invest substantial resources in assisting the homeless and have begun to address the root causes of homelessness. Because homelessness is a multifaceted problem, its solution requires a coordinated blend of resources and efforts from the private sector and all levels of government.
NOW, THEREFORE, in recognition of the nature of the problem, the need for coordination, and to put into action the first recommendation of the Governor's Task Force on Homelessness in its report to me, I, Booth Gardner, Governor of the State of Washington, do hereby establish a State Advisory Council on Homelessness, as follows:
1. The Council shall consist of up to 15 members selected by the Governor to represent private businesses, non-profit organizations that provide services to the homeless, public housing authorities, cities, counties, and the federal government. In addition, the Council shall consist of the Directors of the Department of Community Development, Department of Social and Health Services, Employment Security Department, Department of Health, Department of General Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Corrections, and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction or their designees.
2. The Director of the Department of Community Development shall chair the Council, with a vice chair selected from among the members who do not represent state agencies. The members shall serve without compensation except for reimbursement for travel expenses to and from meetings. Staffing to the council shall be provided by the Department of Community Development with the assistance of other member state agencies.
3. Each state department shall cooperate with the Council, and furnish it with such information as necessary to accomplish the purposes of this order.
4. The Council shall meet at least quarterly in locations agreed upon by the members.
5. The Council shall carry out the following responsibilities:
a. Review actions recommended by the Governor's Task Force on Homelessness and advise the Governor on what measures can be taken to coordinate state efforts on behalf of people who are homeless.
b. Make annual policy recommendations to the Governor on ways to enhance the state's ability to respond to the needs of people who are homeless.
c. Provide a forum for representatives of private businesses, service providers, and local, federal, and state government to address issues and coordinate programs relating to homelessness across the state.
d. Increase the awareness of homeless Issues at state and local government agencies and local organizations that provide services to people who are homeless, and promote training for employees to better serve people who are homeless and those at risk of becoming homeless.
e. Promote interagency cooperation in distributing public information, both to educate the general public about the needs of the homeless and to provide homeless people and service providers with current information about available resources.
6. This order shall take effect immediately.