Senate passes MacEwen bill to boost rural domestic violence shelter funding

Shelton’s Turning Pointe shelter would benefit under new funding formula

OLYMPIA – Shelton’s Turning Pointe domestic violence shelter would be among the beneficiaries of a new funding plan Sen. Drew MacEwen shepherded through the Senate Friday.

Senate Bill 5398 creates a workgroup under the Department of Social and Health Services that would devise a new funding formula based on shelter capacity and clients served, not by county population. The bill passed the Senate Friday 48-0 and now moves to the House for further consideration.

MacEwen, R-Shelton, said the current funding formula is outdated. “The Turning Pointe shelter in my community serves people from beyond Mason County, and the formula really doesn’t fit in an era when many agencies are moving toward rapid housing deployment rather than the traditional communal shelter model,” he said. “We are seeing similar issues in rural communities statewide. Funding should be based on capacity, not zip code.”

During committee hearings, shelter providers testified that victims frequently seek shelter in rural communities, because they believe abusers are less likely to find them there. Population-based formulas penalize rural shelters, they said. In 2022, lawmakers led by then-Rep. MacEwen made the first step toward a new funding system when they appropriated an additional $750,000 to domestic violence shelters based on bed capacity.

If the bill passes, DSHS would report back to the Legislature next year with new funding-formula recommendations.