Braun hopes for action on bill to help with impacts of homelessness

Legislation offers grants to assist businesses with security, sanitation needs

With time starting to run short for Senate policy committees to move bills forward in the 2020 session, Sen. John Braun is hoping to see action soon on his proposal to address sanitation and security needs in commercial districts with homeless populations.

“I’m glad to see the housing situation is more of a bipartisan conversation this year, but the focus on increasing the supply of housing or other shelter doesn’t get at the public-health, public-safety and property-protection concerns that can result when people choose to set up camp or take shelter in and around a downtown core,” said Braun, R-Centralia.

Senate Bill 6196 would make impact grants available to chambers or business associations to support additional security and sanitation services; the bill will be considered “dead” if the Senate Housing Stability and Affordability Committee fails to advance it by Feb. 7.

“Sanitation is vital — discarded needles and human waste on the sidewalk are clearly public-health issues that affect everyone, including businesses,” said Braun, who has asked without success for a public hearing on the measure. “Security is just as important, so businesses have less chance of experiencing property damage or theft, and can provide a welcoming environment to their customers. It’s about maintaining a sense of order on our streets.”