Advocating for historic preservation
As Washington State’s only statewide preservation advocacy organization, the Washington Trust plays a key role in advocating for good preservation policy on both the state and national levels.
••• Governor’s Draft Budget Released! •••
In mid-December, Governor Inslee released his draft budget for the 2021-2023 cycle, and many of the requests we supported were included. For those that weren’t, we will continue to advocate for their importance to members of the legislature!
Main Street: While the Governor included general funding to support the state’s Main Street Program, the budget did not include specific Main Street-led economic recovery strategies the Washington Trust feels are crucial for the next two years. We will continue advocating for funding for recovery services, enhancements to the tax credit program, and capital grants for Main Street.
Capital Grants: On a happier note, all four other capital grant programs were proposed for funding:
- Courthouses: $2,932,254 – (Funds the full list as recommended to four county projects.)
- Barns: $1,500,000 – (Three times the usual amount!)
- Cemeteries: $500,000
- Historic Theaters: $500,000 – (We will still be advocating for this to be funded by the legislature at $1,000,000.)
Washington State Historical Society: While Heritage Capital Projects funding was proposed at the full amount, the Governor did not include the heritage capacity grants in his budget. We will continue to advocate for this important funding!
Dr. Nettie Craig Asberry House: The Governor has pledged $800,000 to assist the Tacoma City Association of Colored Women’s Clubs to acquire the Dr. Asberry House to honor one of Washington’s most important civil rights and women’s rights figures. See page 7 of the Governor’s policy brief about diversity, equity, and inclusion for more. We’ll continue to advocate that the legislature also pledge an additional $500,000 to rehabilitate the house so it can become a community space.
Thank you to all who wrote to the Governor in support of these programs—now, on to your legislators! Stay tuned for next steps once session begins by signing up for “Preservation Issues and Advocacy Alerts” through our email list!
As we approach the season where the Washington State Legislature will set our state’s budget for the next two years, the need for preservation funding is stronger than ever as we deal with economic recovery from COVID-19. Historic preservation keeps money local and supports community character. Join us in telling the Governor and the Washington State Legislature to fund historic preservation and Main Street this budget cycle!
Our legislative priorities include:
Washington Main Street is a major driver of downtown revitalization, economic development, and community placemaking in Washington State. 2020 has proven, in more ways than one, that Main Street was built for economic recovery and small business support. The Washington Trust supports:
- Funding for recovery services – Washington Main Street can ramp up direct economic recovery services to communities across the state with an emphasis on organizational stability and small business retention.
- Enhancing tax credit program – Increasing the state cap and the credit percentage of this existing program will allow sustainable local funding that doesn’t put Main Streets in competition with small businesses or other nonprofit organizations.
- Capital grants for Main Streets – Small businesses will benefit directly from the safety improvements, restorations, and physical improvements to their properties these grants would support.
Washington’s historic places are crucial to our civic, social, and economic systems. State funding has provided support to our communities through historic preservation – funding needed now more than ever to help recover from the economic crisis wrought by COVID-19.
In addition to continued funding for the existing Heritage Barn Initiative, Historic Courthouse Program, and Historic Cemetery Grant Program, the Washington Trust supports the creation of two new preservation grant programs: a Historic Theater Grant Program and, as mentioned above, a Main Street Capital Grant Program.
Washington State Historical Society (WSHS) Programs
Heritage Capital Projects – This grant program is critical to the cultural organizations across the state that preserve our state’s history. Heritage organizations requested over $9 million this upcoming round, showing a clear need for state support. Learn more here.
NEW! Heritage Capacity Building Grants – WSHS is proposing a new grant program that will directly support heritage organizations in this critical time when COVID-19 is causing history museums to close. We are supporting the WSHS’s proposal of program funding at $500,000 to be distributed in grants of up to $15,000 to organizations in need. Support local history! Read more about the proposed program here.
Dr. Nettie Craig Asberry House
The Washington Trust is partnering with the Tacoma Colored Women’s Club (CWC) and others in support of funding the CWC’s acquisition of the historic Dr. Nettie Craig Asberry home in Tacoma. Dr. Asberry was a suffragist and civil rights activist, is believed to be one of the first African American women to earn her Ph.D, and founded the first chapter of the NAACP west of the Rocky Mountains. Read the partners letter here!
Mark your calendars! National Historic Preservation Advocacy Week will be held virtually for the first time from March 8-11, 2021.
Virtual Advocacy Week will feature in-depth virtual trainings, policy briefings, networking opportunities, virtual meetings with elected officials, and of course virtual hill visits, providing the opportunity to meet with your members of Congress and their staff directly.
Recovery package priorities should include:
- Updates to the Federal Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit – The Historic Tax Credit Growth & Opportunity Act (HTC-GO) is a bi-partisan bill that proposes important changes to the Historic Tax Credit to encourage more building reuse and more redevelopment in small, midsize, and rural communities. It would also make the credit easier to use and increase the number eligible properties.
- SHPO funding – Continued and increased funding for our nation’s State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPOs) that process thousands of important reviews and provide pass-through funding to local communities.
- National grant programs – Continued funding for important national programs like the Civil Rights Initiative Competitive Grants, funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, the Save America’s Treasures Program, and the Paul Bruhn Historic Revitalization Grants.
Stay in the loop on the Washington Trust’s advocacy work and learn how you can help raise your voice in support of historic preservation. Click below to sign up for emails and make sure to select “Preservation Issues and Advocacy Alerts” from the list as an area of interest!