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King County shells out extra $1M for refugees in Tukwila encampment

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(The Center Square) – King County has increased its original grant funding opportunity for four nonprofits in their work to provide temporary housing and services to refugees in Tukwila to $2 million.

The county originally announced $1 million for the efforts, but stated in a press release that it increased funding “given the urgency to support these asylees and refugees.”

The $2 million will be utilized as part of a larger $5 million funding opportunity for cities in south King County to assist in local homelessness response efforts. This funding is separate from money allocated by the King County Regional Homelessness Authority. The Homeless Housing Program’s site says it works with KCRHA and other funding sources.

“With this $2 million in local funding King County continues to step up to provide urgent assistance in the near term,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said in a statement. “Working with these community-based organizations will help bring some stability to those in need right now.”

The four organizations receiving the grant funding to help the estimated 150 asylum seekers currently in Tukwila include Coalicion – Dignidad Migrante with $250,000 to support case management and wrap-around support services; Northwest Immigrant Rights Project with $250,000 to expand its work of providing asylum-seeking individuals with legal services to navigate work authorizations and motions to change address; Lutheran Community Services Northwest with $750,000 to provide housing and case management services; and Refugee Women’s Alliance with $750,000 to provide housing and case management services to asylum-seeking individuals, in partnership with Low Income Housing Institute.

In December 2023, the King County Council partnered with Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee in approving $3 million for initial support for people at the Tukwila encampment.

The county Department of Community and Human Services contracted with Thrive International to move people into 100 hotel rooms. Currently, all 100 rooms are occupied and more than 350 people have a temporary place to stay through July, according to the county.

Washington state allocated $25 million to the state’s Department of Social and Health Services and Office of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance to provide housing assistance, food, transportation, education and employment supports to refugees in the state.

At a local level, the City of Tukwila recently allocated $215,000 in funds to provide asylees at a local encampment with a 3,030-square-foot heated tent for 180 days.

The City of Seattle also dipped into a $200,000 fund to shelter refugee families for one week earlier this year as well.