State of Washington
68th Legislature
2023 Regular Session
BySenators MacEwen and Rolfes
Read first time 01/24/23.Referred to Committee on Human Services.
AN ACT Relating to ensuring adequate notice is provided to local communities when the department of social and health services contracts with a housing provider for individuals qualifying for a less restrictive alternative placement; and amending RCW 71.09.097.
Sec. 1. RCW 71.09.097 and 2021 c 236 s 11 are each amended to read as follows:
(1)(a) In accordance with RCW 71.09.090 and 71.09.096, the department shall have the primary responsibility for developing a less restrictive alternative placement. To ensure the department has sufficient less restrictive alternative placements to choose from that satisfy the requirements of RCW 71.09.092, subject to the availability of amounts appropriated for this specific purpose, the department shall use a request for proposal process to solicit and contract with housing and treatment providers from across the state and facilitate fair share principles among the counties. In order to increase the number of housing options for individuals qualifying for a less restrictive alternative, the department shall have oversight of the vendors and providers who contract with the state, including the authority to inspect and ensure compliance, negotiate the rates charged for services, ensure adequate living conditions of housing locations, and terminate contracts. The department shall maintain a statewide accounting of the contracted community housing and treatment providers in each county and provide a biannual report to the legislature and governor by December 1st on the availability and adequacy of less restrictive alternative placements and the department's compliance with fair share principles.
(b) When the department uses a request for proposal process under this subsection to increase the availability of housing options for individuals qualifying for a less restrictive alternative, the department may only enter into a contract with a housing provider after public notification and opportunities for public comment.
(i) The department shall establish a process for early and continuous public participation including, at a minimum, public meetings in the local communities affected, as well as opportunities for written and oral comment. The department or the housing provider shall provide at least 14 days' advance notice of the meeting to all newspapers of general circulation in the community and all radio and television stations generally available in the community.
(ii) The department shall contact the local government planning agencies in the communities affected and coordinate with local government agencies to ensure opportunities are provided for effective citizen input and to reduce duplication of notice and meetings.
(2) To facilitate its duties required under this section, the department shall use the following housing matrix and considerations as a guide to planning and developing less restrictive alternative placements. The following considerations may not be used as a reason to deny a less restrictive alternative placement.
(a) Considerations for evaluating a proposed vendor's application for less restrictive alternative housing services shall include applicable state and local zoning and building codes, general housing requirements, availability of public services, and other considerations identified in accordance with RCW 71.09.315. The department shall require the housing provider to provide proof that the facility is in compliance with all local zoning and building codes.
(i) General housing requirements include running water, electricity, bedroom and living space of adequate size, and no mold or infestations.
(ii) Availability of public services include availability of chaperones and whether the placement is within a reasonable distance to a grocery store, bank, public transportation options, and offices for public services and benefits.
(iii) Other considerations include whether the placement is consistent with fair share principles across the counties, whether the placement is within reasonable distance to other current or planned components of the less restrictive alternative, whether the placement is within reasonable distance to employment opportunities, and the reliability of global positioning system technology.
(b) Factors for evaluating less restrictive alternative options for a specific individual include sex offender treatment considerations, criminogenic needs and risk factors, protective factors, and the specific needs of the client.
(i) Sex offender treatment considerations include whether the housing is within a reasonable distance from the treatment provider, whether the treatment provider is a good therapeutic match with the client, and whether the treatment provider has relevant experience and background to treat the client if the client has special needs.
(ii) Criminogenic needs and risk factors include consideration of the person's specific needs and risk factors in evaluating less restrictive alternative options.
(iii) Protective factors include whether housing is within a reasonable distance of family, friends, potential hobbies, potential employment, and educational opportunities.
(iv) Consideration of the client's specific needs includes assessing the availability of personal care assistance and in-home care assistance, and whether housing is within a reasonable distance of mental health, medical treatment options, and substance use disorder treatment options.
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