Progress: Winter Shelters extended in Bellevue & Seattle!

Many good people and organizations have worked very hard to add or extend safe overnight shelter.  Special appreciation to the staff at the City of Seattle Human Services Department; the King County Community Services Division; the Bellevue Human Services Department; and providers and advocates at the YWCA, The Salvation Army, Congregations for the Homeless; The Sophia Way; and WHEEL.

  • The King County-funded Winter Shelter (50 men) located at the King County Administration Building will be extended through June 30, 2014, with extended hours beginning on April 16th.
  • The Winter Shelter located at the YWCA Angeline’s (40-45 women) will stay open every night in 2014. The shelter will now serve women nightly through the spring and summer.
  • Winter shelters on the Eastside have been extended, through a combination of private contributions, support from the United Way and the Crisis Response of the Committee to End Homelessness, and help from the city of Bellevue.
  • The WHEEL Women’s shelter, currently hosted at Plymouth Congregational Church in Seattle, has been invited to stay through April 18. WHEEL is working to secure funding to find a new location for spring, summer, and fall, and expects to keep shelter open nightly during this process.
  • Please click here to send a thank you e-mail to King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray for extending winter shelter past the April close date, providing 40-45 women and 50 men each night with safe places to find rest.

And – remember how we added funds for emergency shelter for families with children during the Seattle budget process last fall?  Following a fast RFP, the staff at Mary’s Place is preparing to shelter up to 80 people (25-30 families) at a new shelter ~ doors will be open by May 1, if not before.

Project Cool 2014 is in full swing!

Project Cool Meme 2014

The cherry blossoms are blooming, the Mariner’s had their first at-home game of the season, and the sun is finally out in full force. With all these new beginnings, it’s a natural time to start Project Cool for Back-to-School, our Coalition’s beloved backpack and supply drive to support homeless students!

Learn more about Project Cool on our website, and keep reading to find out how you can get involved over the next few months to support homeless students through Project Cool.

Ready… Set… Go!

Here are 4 ways you can get involved:

  1. Supply Drives. Now is a great time to start your own donation supply drive, and encourage others to do the same. We hope you to have fun with them — there are so many ways to be creative and think outside the box. For example, Northwest Honkers Baseball will ask their game day patrons to donate school supplies in lieu of a gate fee during summer games. Use this Project Cool Supply Drive Flyer (with Wish List). Contact me if you’d like a tailored flyer.
  2. Dental Donations. We need your help to reach out to Dentists for floss, toothbrush, and toothpaste donations. Do you have an upcoming dentist appointment, or is there a nearby dentist office in your community? Use our Dentist Letter to ask your personal or local dentist to donate to Project Cool.
  3. Sponsorship. Encourage your work, community group, bank, or faith organization to become a Project Cool Sponsor.
  4. Facebook. ‘Like’ Project Cool on Facebook, invite your friends to do the same, and share posts to boost our reach online. Your action makes a huge difference!

And be sure to mark your calendars for Volunteer Days in early July 2014. During the first two weeks of July volunteers have fun counting, sorting, and organizing supplies to fill backpacks for distribution. We’d love your help, and we welcome groups! If you’d like to help or even arrange a group, then let me know.

Thank you for all you do to support Project Cool students!

 

$15 Minimum Wage – A Shared Commitment

Last November, voters in SeaTac approved increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour, making national news and inspiring vigorous public conversations about wages, affordability, and income inequality in coffee shops and town halls, on buses, and around water coolers across our region.   Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant have been working hard on this issue, and the Mayor’s Income Inequality Advisory Committee is scheduled to release recommendations at the end of April.  The Coalition on Homelessness has been a part of the conversation about the opportunities and complexities of raising the minimum wage as a member of the Seattle Human Services Coalition (SHSC), a coalition of direct service providers and advocacy groups (see background materials below).  We’ll be taking up this conversation at our April 17 General Membership meeting with Tony Lee, from Poverty Action, and other special guests.  Please join us to discuss the practical, political, and policy issues related to raising the minimum wage for all workers, including human services and housing providers. As usual, we meet on the third Thursday from 9-11 a.m. at the E. Cherry St. YWCA (2820 E. Cherry St.) in Seattle.

Background:

In late March, SHSC, together with Working Washington, SEIU 925, and Kids First Seattle issued a joint press release affirming their clear commitment to a $15 minimum wage because it “lifts workers out of poverty, boosts the economy, and strengthens people’s abilities to meet their basic human needs.” These labor and human services groups noted:

“The current citywide conversation about income inequality and the minimum wage should not be used to pit one low income group against another, because we know that those who work in poverty-wage jobs and those who receive human services can be the very same people. Thousands of low-wage workers can’t feed themselves without help from food banks, and can’t possibly afford early childhood education for their children without public support. And at $9.32 an hour, a housing crisis is never more than a paycheck away.”

The Seattle Human Services Coalition laid out five key points in an  ”Issues Advisory on $15 Minimum Wage and Impact for Human Services.” Here is an excerpt from the Executive Summary:

The Seattle Human Services Coalition recognizes the importance of a livable minimum wage in addressing poverty in our community. SHSC fully supports raising the minimum wage for all human services workers (and others) to $15/hr.

We are also acutely aware that this call for raising the minimum wage must be done in such a way that does not result in a decrease in urgently needed services; any solution must take into account the impact on the vulnerable people we serve.

We call upon elected leaders and other stakeholders to take all five of these actions:

      • Include non-profit human service employees in any recommended increases to the minimum wage.
      • Ensure that wage standards and city contract requirements do not lead to a reduction of needed human services.
      • Increase local investments in pay equity, including human services employees.
      • Move the discussion beyond an hourly wage to examine the broader issue of income inequality in our region.
      • Set a base wage that does not include other forms of compensation.

 

Help SAVE METRO, FIX ROADS, and make the LOW INCOME FARE more affordable…

Help SAVE METRO, FIX ROADS, and make the LOW INCOME FARE more affordable: Vote YES on Prop. 1 on April 22

With 400,000 daily rides, Metro helps keep us moving. Due to gridlock in Olympia and limited options, Metro’s facing 17% cuts to bus service, affecting 80% of today’s bus riders and putting up to 30,000 cars back on our already clogged streets. Now, it’s up to the voters of King County to keep Metro moving: we must vote YES on Proposition 1 to protect bus service and fix our roads and bridges throughout King County. In order to address the rising cost of living and transportation in our county for our lowest income neighbors, Prop. 1 will also ‘buy down’ the new Low Income Metro Fare to a more affordable rate of $1.25, and create a license-fee rebate for low income car owners. Let’s keep Metro and our community moving!

There’s plenty to do between now and April 22. Here’s how you can get involved:

  1. Endorse Prop. 1 … Whether you’re an individual, non-profit, or otherwise, you can endorse this ballot measure!
  2. Volunteer … To learn more about how you or your organization can get involved, contact Matt Taylor (206-329-2336; matt@movekingcountynow.org).
  3. Spread the word! … Information is power, so spread the ‘YES on Prop. 1’ message far and wide, using social media, e-mail lists, newsletters, etc. Here’s MoveKingCountyNow’s flyer and their comprehensive FAQ. Got questions about what to include? Contact MoveKingCountyNow (206-329-2336).
  4. Register voters … The last day to register to vote or update voter registration is Monday, March 24, 2014 (or April 14 for first-time voters who register in-person at select locations). Check voter registration status, register to vote, or download a voter registration form at http://kingcounty.gov/elections.  And remember that you don’t need a house to have a voice. Help ensure that every eligible voter can register, vote, and participate fully in the democratic process, regardless of where they sleep at night or whether they have a way to receive mail. For comprehensive information about how to help people register and vote, use and distribute the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness’ free, non-partisan *Special Edition* Voters’ Guide.

Learn more or get involved at www.MoveKingCountyNow.org

The Importance of the Affordable Care Act for Youth & Young Adults

ACAThe deadline of March 31 for signing up for the Affordable Care Act is quickly approaching. However, if you are eligible for Medicaid, you can enroll at anytime, and do not have to meet the March 31 deadline. Our Youth & Young Adult Committee learned this, and much more from Tabitha Jensen, Executive Director of Teen Feed, who came to their meeting this morning and gave a presentation on the importance of signing up young people for the Affordable Care Act. If you are interested in learning more, you can see her presentation: Teen Feed Youth & Young Adult Healthcare Presentation.

Also, please join us for our next meeting on Tuesday, April 8 from 10-11:30am at the Capitol Hill Public Library or on any first Tuesday of the month. 

Policy Update: The 2014 Legislative Session — Part 3

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Fifty days down and ten more to go in this 60-day Legislative Session. At last we wrote, the future looked promising on key bills related to housing and homelessness. Then came our February 24th Take Action alert regarding two crucial bills that needed additional, feverish support. What followed has been a flurry of call-to-actions via Facebook posts, Coalition e-mails, and direct phone calls — anything to get movement on devastating (and incredibly unnecessary!) roadblocks in the Senate. At this point, some of our bills continue on with smooth sailing, others require heavy lifts, and others have been tabled until next session. 

Seasoned advocates, led by the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance (WLIHA), will keep working to revive key bills until the very end of the session on March 13.  Every call each of us makes reinforces the message that ending homelessness is a priority.   

What follows are updates and Action Alerts (when applicable) for each bill we’ve been following. Please take action today; call the free State Legislative Hotline (1-800-562-6000) between the hours of 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. to leave a message for your legislators.

  • Homeless Housing and Assistance Surcharge (aka Document Recording Fees): Failed to pass out of Senate Committee — this bill is currently dead
    • Update: Despite bi-partisan support in the Senate, Co-Chair Sen. Jan Angel abruptly ended the Senate’s FIHI Committee meeting before the bill was to come up for a vote. For a more detailed report, check out WLIHA’s blog post. Sen. Steve Hobbs (Angel’s Co-Chair!) had this to say: “To simply do away with a primary source of funding that actually helps solve the homeless problem is ignorant at best and evil at worst.” WLIHA is pushing to find a workaround.
    • Action Alert: Call your legislators today and say, “Please make sure the Homeless Housing and Assistance Surcharge fees do NOT “sunset”: Support ESHB 2368. Also, please help all Washington residents have opportunities for safe, healthy affordable homes: make a deeper investment in affordable housing. Neither the House nor the Senate Capital Budget invests enough in our State Housing Trust Fund.”
  • Fair Tenant Screening Act, Part 3Failed to pass out of Senate Committee — this bill is dead
    • Update: Again, Co-Chair Sen. Jan Angel refused to bring this bill to a vote in the Senate’s FIHI Committee, which effectively killed the bill for the 2014 Legislative Session. Supporters will bring it back for the 2015 Legislative Session.
  • Youth Opportunities Act: Passed out of Senate’s HSC Committee, awaits floor action in the Senate Rules Committee
    • Update: HB 1651 has passed through the House, then the Senate, and now needs to be “pulled to a floor vote” in the Senate Rules Committee by this Friday, March 7 or else it will die. Some groups have withdrawn their opposition. Still, it’s dire that we counter the opposition’s calls to Senators!
    • Action Alert: Use this link from the Children’s Alliance to send a message of support to your Senator. Please also call your Senator with this simple message: “Please ensure HB 1651 gets a vote in the Senate! The time is now; we cannot afford to wait. This bill will help prevent another 10,000 youth from having their records unnecessarily distributed over the next year!”
  • Homeless Children’s Education Act: HB 2373 is in Senate Rules Committee, SB 6074 is in House Rules Committee. 
    • Update: Both bills successfully passed through both houses, and are in their respective Rules Committee. One difference is that the Senate Budget includes funds to support the bill, but the House Budget does not.
    • Action Alert: Please call the Legislative Hotline at (800) 562-6000 to urge your Representatives to amend their Operating Budget to include the necessary funds for SB 6074.
  • Housing and Essential Needs & Aged, Blind or Disabled: No cuts
    • Update: Both the House and Senate supplemental budget proposals make no cuts to HEN and ABD. Plus, mystery bill SB 6573 has been explained. In short, it changes the definition of disability for both programs, which would result in savings that would be swept into the General Fund. (Read a more detailed report here.)
    • Action Alert: Call the Legislative Hotline at (800) 562-6000 to urge your lawmakers to “to pass SB 6573 and to reinvest its savings into HEN. Also, please use any incapacity exam savings to reinvest back into HEN and ABD.”
  • Housing Trust Fund: No budget appropriate in the Senate, low appropriation in the House.
    • Update: Advocates were surprised by the low appropriation of funds in the House’s supplemental budget, but not surprised by the Senate’s lack of appropriated in their supplemental budget. Check out WLIHA’s Budget Tracker to get the big picture differences among each proposed budget.
    • Action Alert: Call the Legislative Hotline at (800) 562-6000 to urge your lawmakers to “please help all Washington residents have opportunities for safe, healthy affordable homes: make a deeper investment in affordable housing. Neither the House nor the Senate Capital Budget invests enough in our State Housing Trust Fund.”
  • Certificate of Restoration of Opportunity: House Bill Died —  No action this session
    • The Certificate of Restoration of Opportunity did not make it out of the House (HB 2399), and did not have a companion bill in the Senate. The bill is no longer being considered this session; stay tuned for another attempt to pass CROP next session! Contact your Legislators throughout the year to let them know the importance of CROP.

Thank you for all you have done and continue to do to ensure that Everyone Counts 365 days a year. 

We did it: We have a Low Income Metro Fare!

This historic policy win will help tens of thousands of people get on the bus.

When we started organizing for a low income Metro fare back in 2012, as the loss of the Ride Free Area loomeMetro Busd, Alison thought it would take years before  our work came to fruition.  But on Monday, the King County Council voted unanimously to  implement a reduced Metro fare of $1.50* for people living on low incomes.  King County residents all the way up to 200% of the federal poverty line will be eligible - meaning that nearly a quarter of the people in our community will be better able to access the bus. (*This proposal can be made even better if voters turn out to pass Proposition 1 on April 22, when voters can ‘buy down’ the fare to $1.25 as part of a revenue package that will prevent 17% bus service cuts.)

This is a big win! If you filled out a postcard, played our “Metro Mad Libs,” called and e-mailed, or turned out to public meetings, you should be proud.  Together we have moved our region into the forefront of public policy that connects transit to other social and economic goals.

Thank you!

Recap: Coalition’s General Meeting — February 20, 2014

What we wouldn’t give to get a couple of extra days at the end of February. Do you feel the same? It’s a good thing we’ve been posting these abbreviated meeting notes so that you can make the most out of the time you have!

Last week’s General Member Meeting was quite timely, what with the Legislative Session over half-way through and the next phase of Reduced Fare actions taking place. Be sure to catch up if you missed out, or refresh on details if you attended. Here’s what happened at the latest General Member Meeting, held on February 20, 2014.

As a reminder, the General Member Meeting takes place every third Thursday of the month from 9.00 – 11.00 a.m. at the East Cherry YWCA (2820 E. Cherry Street in Seattle). For more information, check our website’s Members’ tab for a link to the ‘Committees & Meetings’ page, or simply follow this link to take you there directly. Our next General Member Meeting is Thursday, March 20, 2014.

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2014 One Night Count Discussion: What did you think? What did you hear? What are the implications for your work? Your community?

  • Many people spoke about their 2014 One Night Count experiences:
    • Some shared that more people were awake and moving around between 2-5 a.m.. One individual noted the dissonance in counting people who are homeless amid high rises and malls. A new Team Captain from this year’s count said she took away an extra dose of compassion and humility. A first-time counter, who was able to count in his home neighborhood, noted how different it was to see people who are homeless at night than during the day, and was also surprised at the wide age range of people who were counted. A first-time Team Captain but returning counter mentioned that this year he saw more tent encampments than in years prior. A first-time Headquarter volunteer shared that student counters came back with a new outlook on their neighborhood after counting at night. In all, everyone shared the meaningfulness of their experience, and its lasting impression.
    • Alison Eisinger, Executive Director of the Coalition, share that this 14% increase change is significant; it’s not “in the noise.” She’s glad to report that many elected officials participated this year; this sort of showing is good for all the work we do after the Count. She encouraged us to talk in our communities about what a 14% increase means both personally and professionally, but reminded us to understand that what’s most powerful is the total number of people reported, and that number represents unmet need (because shelters are full.)

2014 Legislative Session updates w/ special presenter Ben Miksch of Washington Low Income Housing Alliance

NOTE: for more information or current status on the below bills, please check out the rest of our blog and Facebook posts, and be sure to sign up for our e-mail alerts

  • Homeless Housing and Assistance Surcharge (aka Document Recording Fees): Passed the House, and is now in the Senate. Contact your Senator, and ask them to support HB 2368.
  • Fair Tenant Screening Act, Part 3: Passed the House, and is now in the Senate. Contact your Senator, and ask them to support HB 2537
  • Youth Opportunities Act: Passed the House, and is now in the Senate. Contact your Senator, and ask them to support HB 1651.
  • Homeless Children Education Act: One bill started in the house and another started in the Senate. Each bill passed their respective houses and has moved to the other. Contact your legislators and tell them to support HB 2373/SB6074.
  • HED/ABD, and the Housing Trust Fund: This is the first time we haven’t started the session with cuts to HEN. While that’s a great place to start, we can do so much better. Please ask your elected officials to match the average Housing Trust Fund allocations from previous years by investing a total of $18 million this year.
  • Certificate of Restoration of Opportunity (CROP): Unfortunately, CROP did not pass through the House; it will no longer be considered this session. Rest assured, it will be back next session! Contact your legislators throughout the year to let them know the importance of CROP.

Call-in to Olympia: 1-800-562-6000

  • Oh yes, we did! Everyone took out their phones, dialed the number listed above, and dictated to the operator on the other end their simple message in support of the Homeless Housing and Assistance Surcharge.

Update and Action on the Low Income Fare (aka Reduced Metro Fare)

NOTE: for more information or current status on Proposition 1 and the Low Income Fare, please check out the rest of our blog and Facebook posts, and be sure to sign up for our e-mail alerts

  • Please call King County Councilmember Larry Phillips @ 206-477-1004 (toll free: 800-325-6165). Message: We strongly support a reduced fare. We urge the council to “buy down” the fare to no more than $1.25.
  • Update: On Monday, the King County Council voted unanimously to implement a reduced Metro fare of $1.50* for people living on low incomes. King County residents all the way up to 200% of the federal poverty line will be eligible - meaning that nearly a quarter of the people in our community will be better able to access the bus. (*This proposal can be made even better if voters turn out to pass Proposition 1 on April 22, when voters can ‘buy down’ the fare to $1.25 as part of a revenue package that will prevent 17% bus service cuts.) 

Staff Update

  • Alison provided an update and announce the Call for Letters re: Federal Reserve Bank Project. Check out our website to learn more and sign up for alerts!

Save these dates on your calendar:

  • Legislative Session runs January 13 – March 13, 2014
  • Families w/ Children Meeting re: Rapid Rehousing – Wed, Feb 26 from 9.30-11 a.m. @ E. Cherry YWCA
  • Youth and Young Adult Committee Meeting re: DV, and spotlight on TeenFeed programs – Tues, Mar 11 from 10-11.30 a.m. @ Capitol Hill Library
  • Next General Member Meeting – Thursday, March 20 from 9-11 a.m. @ E. Cherry YWCA
  • Keep an eye out for Member Surveys in March!

We look forward to seeing you at the next General Member Meeting on Thursday, March 20, 2014! And be sure to check back here for a Recap following each meeting.