Reflections on a rousing 2015 Housing & Homelessness Advocacy Day!

2015 advocacy express advertizing photo On February 17, 2015, 650 of our closest friends and allies from all across the state of Washington gathered in Olympia at Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day to speak up for affordable housing and an end to homelessness.

Driven by an enthusiastic and cheerful bus driver, we headed to Olympia at 7:15 a.m. with 30 Coalition members and friends –  service providers, clients, residents, guests, and others. For some, it was their first time to Olympia and an introduction to advocacy in action. Others were veterans of HHAD. Everyone on the Advocacy Express bus was rearin’ and ready to make a difference, and that they did!

The Coalition’s Advocacy Express bus rolled up right on time to the morning activities, and found inspiration from the first of many speakers that day. Housing Alliance staff, State legislators, and superstar Real Change vendor Pam Russell all spoke how POWERFUL we housing advocates are when we speak up and act together. It’s because of our collective action and advocacy that the Document Recording Fee bill came back from the dead last session, remember!

Our rally at the Capitol steps was a sight to be seen (and heard!). We were inspired by the voices around us. People who have experienced homelessness personally, service providers, representatives from advocacy organizations, students, community members, and people from all walks of life from all over the state were represented as we chanted from the steps through the buildings of the Capitol:

“When they say ‘cutback’ we say fightback!”
“Get up, get down, there’s a housing crisis in this town.”

We were a sea of 650 people wearing red scarves, red shirts, red hats, and many people wore our One Night Count ‘3772’ and Student Homelessness ‘32,494’ buttons. Even as folks dispersed into their legislative district groups, we were unified and unmistakable throughout the halls of the Capitol. Each button and scarf quietly communicated a strong message of solidarity and the importance of these issues.

In addition to the work we do to recruit and transport folks to HHAD, we at the Coalition have the distinct pleasure of also delivering over 1,100 One Night Count advocacy postcards to legislators who represent parts of King County. Hillary and I had great conversations with many Legislative Assistants, some Legislators, and plenty of the helpful staff at the Capitol.

There’s enough energy, passion,and community at HHAD to recharge and reignite our commitment and resolve to take action and make change. Thank you to each and every person who participated! HHAD is but one day a year – and a great day at that – and the other 364 days are just as important. Whatever the method, make sure your legislators hear from you, and hear from you often. Every call, email, letter, and in-person visit throughout the year is what builds and sustains the momentum we need to make positive change in our communities and across our state for people who are homeless and unstably housed.

HHAD 2015 Bus ride home

Thanks for all you do to speak up!

– Hillary and Rebecca

Q&A – Helping people get on the bus with ORCA LIFT, our Low Income Metro Fare.

Phase 1. Together, we organized, called, spoke, e-mailed, and wrote. Our community voted. And we won ourselves a mighty Low Income Metro Fare. Commence celebration #1.

ORCA LIFTThe newly named ORCA LIFT program will begin on March 1. We encourage you to help your residents, guests, and clients sign up prior to March 1, so that they can take full advantage of the program.

Phase 2: We know you have a lot of questions about how this brand new program will work, who will really benefit, and, above all, what you should be telling people. We’ve pulled together some of the BIGGEST questions and will answer them in this blog post. Please do also consult Metro’s easy-to-navigate ORCA LIFT website. Oh, and here’s a helpful color copy of the ORCA LIFT brochure!

Anyone 18 years old or older whose household income is no more than 200 percent of the federal poverty line (FPL). The chart below shows the federal poverty guidelines by household size.

Household Size 200%
1 $23,340
2 $31,460
3 $39,580
4 $47,700
5 $55,820
6 $63,940
7 $72,060
8 $80,180

No. ORCA LIFT cards must be tied to an individual person who has goes through the verification process with one of the 9 authorized agencies. See more info below. 

ORCA LIFT is not always a better deal. Here’s some information to consider when helping clients/residents/guests weigh the cost/benefits:

The ORCA youth card reduced fare is available to young people up until the day of their 19th birthday. While it costs the same as the ORCA LIFT, the youth card is accepted throughout the entire transit system in our region. As of yet, ORCA LIFT is only accepted on King County Metro buses, Sound Transit Link light rail, Kitsap Transit, Seattle Streetcar and the King County Water Taxi. ORCA LIFT is only a better deal for young people who are 19+ years old.

If someone has already qualified for the Regional Reduced Fare Permit ORCA card (RRFP), then they should stick with that and not apply for the ORCA LIFT. Why? With the RRFP, they can pay a cheaper price (75 cents) in cash, the program covers the larger regional transit network, and permanent RRFP cards don’t expire.

This completely depends on how often an individual rides the bus, and whether they can pay upfront each month. The cost of the monthly pass – which offers unlimited rides – is $54. If someone rides the bus daily, then the monthly pass is definitely an excellent deal. If someone takes less than 36 one-way trips* on the bus per month, then the monthly pass is not worth it. You may want to help folks consider their spending patterns and discuss budgeting techniques so that they can afford the up-front fee each month.

*18 round-trip rides that won’t qualify for the 2-hour transfer.

Metro has partnered with 9 agencies who will be authorized ORCA LIFT enrollment offices. Locations and hours of operation vary. No, folks cannot sign up online.

IMPORTANT NOTE: if one of the contracted social service agencies cannot enroll an applicant because they can’t verify identity and/or income, then ask them to refer the applicant to Public Health. Be prepared to follow up and advocate with and for your client/resident/guest. Read on for more information about this.

Here’s a list of the agencies:

Income and identity. Before I explain anything further, it’s important for you to understand that partner agencies – especially the King County Public Health team – are committed to trying every avenue to sign people up. Compared to other programs and documentation requirements, these are much more flexible, and allow for gettin’ creative. Be prepared to help folks think outside of the box! Examples below.

INCOME . . . 

  • Are they employed? If so, pay stubs, a letter from employer, copy of your most recent tax return (if self-employed) or bank statements over the last 30 days will suffice.
  • Do they have zero income? If so, Employment Security verification form will work.
  • Are they already receiving benefits from a program that has a similar income requirement (200% FPL or less)? For example: TANF, Apple Health/Medicaid, Basic Food (Food stamps), or even your own agency’s program (!). Make a copy of award letters, copy paperwork, or contact the agency/program to get a documentation letter.
  • Are they receiving an other benefits? For example: unemployment, SSI, Social Security, L & I, etc. Make a copy of award letters, copy paperwork, or contact the agency/program to get a documentation letter.

Example of getting creative with income verification . . . 
Let’s say you’re helping a mom and dad, who are not yet citizens of the US, sign up for ORCA LIFT. For many reasons, they can’t directly verify their income. However, after asking some questions, you find out that their children receive Apple Health. The verification agency (e.g., Public Health) can contact the Health Care Authority to get documentation of the kids’ eligibility status, which can then be used as income verification for the parents’ ORCA LIFT application.


  • Any government-issued photo ID, including but not limited to: state photo ID, Driver’s license, tribal ID, school photo ID, Armed Services ID w/ photo.
  • A combo of two or more of the following (not a comprehensive list):
    • document with a current photo of you with your name
    • document that has your name and birthdate, including but not limited to: adoption papers, baptismal records, border crossing card, court order, employee ID card, marriage license, school records

Phase 3. Get on the bus with ORCA LIFT starting March 1. Commence celebration #2.





Youth & Young Adults Committee 12/9 recap: Survival Sex Workshop

PSKS LogoLast Tuesday about 50 community members gathered at the Coalition’s Youth & Young Adults Committee (YYAC) monthly meeting to share in a powerful workshop about Survival Sex facilitated Queer Youth Community Organizing Interns TJ Petrik and Jackie Sandberg from PSKS.  (These two participated in the YYAC’s Youth Advocacy Summit this year, and it was great to reconnect!) As a topic that is very prevalent in the lives of many in our community, but not discussed as much as it should be, it was good to share this conversation with service providers, case workers, advocates, and more so everybody could get tips for how to share important information with those they work with.

Some highlighted tips for service providers:
Find full list of tips from TJ and Jackie here

  • Survival Sex can loosely be defined as “needs-based sexual activity” and is often traded for assurance of safety, a place to stay, money, protection, and drugs among other reasons.
  • Needs based sexual activities are very complex and personal, and are especially prevalent among homeless youth and LGBTQ youth.
  • Service providers can and should provide information and resources about sex work while being sensitive to those they are serving.
  • Many people may not be open about sharing so it is important to make sure everyone knows that resources are available by using space in your facility to educate people via fliers, events, and non-derogatory language. It was suggested by many in the room that one approach for intake workers and service providers to share information would be by asking: “Would you or anyone you know like information about resources for those involved in survival sex.”  Asking questions such as this allow space for individuals to access resources without having to disclose personal information.
  • When working with a young person who’s engaged in needs-based sex work, it’s important to discuss risk reduction. For example: If the young person works alone, then discuss what having a buddy system could look like, and what the ups and downs of that would be.

List of Important Resources and Organizations from TJ and Jackie:

These are important conversations to have and we are glad that so many organizations were represented at the meeting to take this information back to their spaces and spread the conversation widely.  If you have any questions or would like to look into the possibility of having a Survival Sex workshop at your organization or continue to be part of the growing educational movement, please email

Thanks to everyone who came out and especially thanks to Jackie and TJ for leading such a dynamic and important discussion!

We hope to see you at the January Youth & Young Adults Committee Meeting: Tuesday January 13, 2015, 10:00-11:30 a.m. @ All Pilgrims Christian Church: 509 10th Ave E, Seattle, 98102 (note temporary location change for Jan). 

Severe Weather Shelter in King County

Updated Severe Weather Shelter locations around King County can be found below. Please note that other Winter Shelters are also opened nightly and Severe Weather Shelters (listed below) are usually open when the weather is below freezing.  Please visit the Crisis Clinic Resource Talk Shelter page to see the most updated list of Winter Shelters around the county as well as information about Severe Weather Shelters.

This post will be frequently updated with the most recent information. If you know of new or updated information please contact hillary[at]homelessinfo[dot]org. _________________________________________________________________________


Please share information about severe weather shelters with your clients and the community.  Check back for frequent updates about openings. Information can also be found here. 

SEATTLE: Severe Weather Shelter – Print This Flyer

The emergency shelter serves men and women over the age of 18 and is operated by Salvation Army Staff. The Rainier Room at the Seattle Center is located at 305 Harrison Street just to the north of Key Arena.  This shelter is open access.  Referral forms are NOT required.


Veteran’s Memorial Park 

Les Gove Overnight Shelter 

  • Location: Les Gove Multipurpose Building: 1024 Deals Way, Auburn, 98002 (between Auburn Senior Activity Center and Auburn Library)
  • Date & Time: Closed
  • Phone: (253) 876 – 1925

KENT: Kent Lutheran Church

FEDERAL WAY: New Hope Christian Fellowship

RENTON: Cold Weather Shelter

  • Location: Renton Harambee Center: 316 South 3rd St, Renton, 98057
  • Date & Time: Closed
  • Phone: 425-430-6600                                                                                                       

Queer Youth Healthcare Fair Sunday Nov. 16th

Our friends at Seattle Counseling Services and HEYO are hosing a Queer Youth Healthcare Fair this SUNDAY the 16th at the Seattle Downtown Central Library from 2-5pm. Please spread this information to your networks, clients, guests, and the community by printing & posting or emailing the flyer and this message from SCS! 

There will be FREE HIV testing, FREE food, #MYHIVMOMENT photo booth, and in-person healthcare navigators available to answer questions and help individuals enroll in qualified healthcare plans. Everyone is welcome to this event!

QYHC Fair Poster (Final)



Severe Weather Shelters around King County UPDATED

Please share information about severe weather shelters with your clients and the community.  Check back for frequent updates about openings. Information can also be found here. 

SEATTLE Severe Weather Shelter

Location: Seattle Center Rainier Room: 305 Harrison Street (next to Key Arena)Map

Date & Time: Wednesday 11/12 & Thursday 11/13: 8:30pm to 7:00am

 Severe Weather Shelter Seattle Flyer Nov 12 & 13, 2014.

In response to forecasted low temperatures, the City of Seattle is opening Severe Weather Shelter at the Seattle Center Rainier Room on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights, November 11th, 12th, & 13th.   The emergency shelter serves men and women over the age of 18 and is operated by Salvation Army Staff.  The hours of operation are 8:30pm to 7:00am.  The Rainier Room at the Seattle Center is located at 305 Harrison Street just to the north of Key Arena.  This shelter is open access.  Referral forms are NOT required.

AUBURN: Overnight Shelter confirmed open Wed 11/12 & Thurs 11/13

Until power is restored, the following Warming Centers and Shelters will be in place:

  • Overnight Severe Weather Shelter: Les Gove Multipurpose Building: 1024 Deals Way Map (between Auburn Senior Activity Center and Auburn Library)- 8 PM – 7 AM; Phone: (253) 876 – 1925
  • Warming Center: Auburn Senior Center: 808 9th Street SE – 8 AM to 9 PM
  • Warming Center: Auburn City Hall: 25 W Main Street – 8 AM to 6 PM

FEDERAL WAY: New Hope Christian Fellowship

Location: 31411 6th Ave S, Federal Way, WA, 98003 Map
Phone: (253) 269 – 6585                                                                                                  

Date & Time: 4pm-8am, open until further notice

RENTON Cold Weather Shelter

Location: Renton Harambee Center: 316 South 3rd St, Renton, 98057 Map              Phone: 425-430-6600                                                                                                       

Date & Time: Wednesday 11/12: 8:30pm – 8am

Print and share this flyer: Renton Cold Weather Shelter 11.12.2014

The City Renton is partnering with Catholic Community Services to open the Severe Weather Shelter (SWS) at Renton Harambee Center, due to dangerously low temperatures.This Severe Weather Shelter will be open TONIGHT, Wednesday November 12th. 8:30PM – check in and registration, 8AM – shelter closes, all must vacate.  All are welcome. The SWS is available for single women and men, couples, and homeless families with children who are living on the streets or in vehicles; separate sleeping spaces have been prepared for men, women, and for families with children. The SWS will be operated by Catholic Community Services staff and volunteers from the greater Renton community. All must register at the door. As with all shelters, rules for the health and safety of clients, staff and the broader community will apply. For more information please contact the City of Renton, Human Services office at 425-430-6600.