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Washington State announce new investments to help asylum-seekers

Anna Patrick, The Seattle Times on

Published in News & Features

SEATTLE — King County and the city of Tukwila announced two new separate investments Tuesday to assist asylum-seekers living in the region in need of shelter and support.

King County announced a one-time $1 million grant to South King County nonprofits that provide temporary housing, food, support, and legal services to families and individuals. Tukwila will pay for and stand up a large, heated tent on the Riverton Park United Methodist Church property that will be able to hold up to 100 people to provide better shelter to asylum-seekers who are currently living outside there.

The Tukwila church has found itself in the center of this crisis after immigrants first started showing up to its doors back in December 2022. Since that time, the church has sheltered more than 800 people, according to church leader Pastor Jan Bolerjack, with people sleeping in almost every corner of the church as well as camping in tents outside.

"While this additional $1 million in funding will help in the near term, the full-scale response and infrastructure needed for this ongoing situation requires additional federal leadership and partnership with the state," said King County Executive Dow Constantine.

To qualify for the county's new $1 million grant, nonprofits have to be able to provide "new or expanded housing and related services that will lessen the negative impact on asylum-seekers living unsheltered, such as day centers, hygiene services and emergency shelters," according to the release.

The county will host an information session on March 4. It's currently accepting applications until March 12.

 

The current Washington legislative session could provide some additional relief.

Gov. Jay Inslee has asked for more than $8 million in his supplemental budget to support this population. The Senate and House of Representatives introduced their separate budgets last week that include more.

The Senate is asking for $5 million for the state Office of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance and an additional $5 million to go toward helping to house people living in Tukwila. Meanwhile, the House included more than $25 million for the Office of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance and included an additional $5 million to King County and $2.5 million to Tukwila.

The House proposal is most similar to what advocates have asked for.

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