Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Beachwood Housing Site
November 4, 1999
HOMES FOR ALL AND ALL FOR HOMES
It’s great to be here. Thank you Dr. Eisenhauer for inviting me and thanks to Bob Drewel for that great presentation and kind introduction. It’s great to be here with Bob Santos of HUD, Ed Peterson of Housing Hope, and Margery Hite of the County Executive’s Office. And it was great to swing that hammer out there!
And we’re lucky to have Senator Costa, Representative Reardon, and Representative Scott with us today. And a special thanks also to Cindy Ringstad of the Snohomish County Executive’s Office for all of her hard work.
Today’s a great day for Marysville, and for all of Washington.
You know, I was Pooh Bear for Halloween. In this picture, here, his paws don’t look so big, but I’ll tell you—my Pooh paws were huge! And every time I reached in to pull out candy to give to the trick-or-treaters, my Pooh-bear paw was so big that I couldn’t pick up just one piece of candy. I’d get ten or twelve every time! Christopher Robin had to run out and get more candy, and wasn’t too happy about it, but the trick-or-treaters sure didn’t mind.
But that’s what the Stakeholders Group responsible for organizing the building of Beachwood is like—a bigger paw. By working together you’ve been able to provide housing for so many more people in a shorter time than you could have had you not pooled your resources and visions.
Snohomish County is one of the fastest growing counties in Washington State. Everybody wants to live here. And why not? It’s beautiful here and the quality of people is high. But the influx of residents has caused an affordable housing crisis. Families born and raised in Snohomish County can’t afford the houses they had been renting for twenty years. Entry level wages and fixed incomes are not increasing, and yet rents have nearly doubled since 1986. You just saw it in the presentation.
And what you’ve done is incredible. The Helping Communities Initiative performed studies to determine what you most needed. And study after study determined that affordable housing was at the top of your list as a community concern. And after the 1995 study, you banned together and said: “No more assessments! Let’s get an action plan together and get out there and do something.”
And look what you’ve done!
You recognized that if you bonded together—if you formed a partnership—if you pooled your resources and goals you could achieve so much more. You created a countywide plan. You are galvanizing resources and forcing results. Beachwood is just one of your accomplishments.
You all know education is my number one priority. But as was mentioned earlier—how can a kid go to school, if he or she has no place to return home to? Homeless children don’t learn very well and tend to disrupt school settings. By working together to provide affordable housing, you are improving the education atmosphere for all students. By working together to provide affordable housing, you are also lifting the burden from health care and law enforcement.
You are setting an example for other counties about how to form more effective collaborations between the county, the state, the federal government, community, and the private sector. It takes imagination and discipline to work together; and it takes courage to dedicate time and money to improving the lives of others. Lots of people talk about the good they could do for other people, but the people in this room didn’t just talk. They walked, and pounded and sawed and got the job done. Beachwood is a gift that will keep giving to the people of Marysville over and over.
I’ll tell you, I’ve been thinking about Pooh a bit, after having just been Pooh. And there’s a Pooh story I like to read to Emily. I don’t think she understands it yet, but I still like to read it to her. I know the students here are too old for Pooh, but maybe there’s something in this story for the adults, here. One day, Pooh and Piglet went out for a walk in the snowy woods. It was very cold that day so Pooh and Piglet sang Pooh songs to keep themselves warm. After enough singing, they are warm enough to talk again.
“I’ve been thinking,” Pooh said, “and what I’ve been thinking is this. I’ve been thinking about Eeyore.”
“What about Eeyore?” asked Piglet.
“Well, poor Eeyore has nowhere to live.”
“Nor he has,” said Piglet.
“You have a house, Piglet,” said Pooh, “and I have a house, and they are very good houses. And Christopher Robin has a house, and Owl and Kanga and Rabbit have houses, and even Rabbit’s friends and relations have houses or somethings, but poor Eeyore has nothing. So what I’ve been thinking is: Let’s build him a house.”
“That,” said Piglet, “is a Grand Idea. Where shall we build it?”
“We will build it here,” said Pooh, “just by this wood, out of the wind.”
So Pooh and Piglet conveniently find a heap of sticks nearby and set to building their friend Eeyore a home. When Eeyore shows up, he says:
“It just shows what can be done by taking a little trouble. Brains first and then Hard Work. Look at it! That’s the way to build a house,” said Eeyore proudly.
And Eeyore’s right. Brains and Hard Work built that house for Eeyore, and that housing complex across the street. The brains and hard work of the people in this room. But Eeyore forgot to mention one thing. Brains and hard work were a lot of it. But none of it would have happened if Pooh hadn’t realized that everybody in the 7 Acre Woods deserved to have a home, and that they had the power to do something about it—if Pooh hadn’t had that Grand Idea. If Snohomish County hadn’t pooled together their resources and vision—none of this would have happened.
Providing adequate, safe, and affordable housing for all Washingtonians is very important. It deeply saddens me to think that in a time of prosperity in our state, we still have farmworkers who sleep on the riverbanks or families who have to sleep on the streets because they cannot afford any shelter. I am proud of what I've been able to do to increase funding for housing. Last year, I proposed and passed with the support from the Legislature, a budget that included additional funding for homeless families with children and farmworker housing. Specifically, my budget included:
- $2.5 million increase in additional state support for the Emergency Shelter Assistance program, which will leverage local dollars allowing 3,200 additional homeless families to be served.
- $5.0 million increase in additional state support for transitional housing to assist 1,550 homeless families break the cycle of homelessness.
- increases in housing assistance for WorkFirst eligible families. Families in WorkFirst who do not have stable housing arrangements may receive one-time cash assistance to obtain or maintain stable housing. The cash payments may be part of the family's self sufficiency plan if they are in WorkFirst, or may be paid through the cash diversion program if the family does not wish to enter the WorkFirst program.
- $5 million in Capital expenditures to increase the number of emergency shelters, transitional housing, and affordable housing opportunities for homeless families with children.
- $8 million/per biennium in the capital budget (for the next 10 years) for farmworker housing. This will provide housing for about 10,000 farmworkers and their families.
And it warms my heart to see that the Marysville community is as dedicated to providing affordable housing for everybody as my administration is.
Thank you all for everything you’ve done to make Washington a better place to live, to work, and to raise a family.