Governor and veterans search for homelessness solutions

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Tiffany Charneski shared her struggle with homelessness with the governor's homelessness panel. 

The Iraq and Afghanistan veteran was forced into shelter with her two young children.

"I couldn't pay the $500 increase in rent and child care was $2,100 and so as a single parent that's almost impossible," she said.

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Her veteran's disability benefit was counted against other help she needed.

"That's a huge problem because I only got $17 in food stamps because my disability was considered unearned," she said.

The Billy Frank Junior Place housing development in Olympia is an example of the success that can come from leveraging local state and federal money.

But the housing group that built it can't keep up with the need.

"How do you expect people who are homeless to exit homelessness if the market rents are like $2,000, $2,500?" said Sharon Lee, director of the Low Income Housing Institute.

But when Lee's organization tried to build in another city, they couldn't get a break from expensive parking requirements, even though many disabled and senior citizens no longer drive cars.

"We have one city, one suburban city who told me 'oh, we just gave a parking reduction to a market rate housing developer. But if you are going to do affordable, we're not going to give you a parking reduction," Lee said.

The governor wants more money for solutions that can get people out of tents, even temporarily. Such as Seattle's so-called tiny houses.

"Living in a tent in this environment is so bad for your health and we have a crisis on our hands. It's just a crisis," Inslee said.

Tiffany Charneski says homeless veterans with children need help so they can work.

"Affordable child care. There's many programs out there that are helping active duty military regular civilians in the workforce but as veterans there was nothing," she said.

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