Employment Assistance Programs: Information and Coalition Update from January 16 Zoom Call

Although The Coalition cancelled our January Membership Meeting in recognition of the extra strain severe weather conditions put on people experiencing homelessness and on service providers, and the real difficulties of winter travel in our large county, we did host a ZOOM call to update members on the 2020 Legislative Session priorities, click HERE to visit our State Legislative Advocacy page see many ways you can take action! We had a great panel of staff from Employment Services Programs who were going to present at the meeting, and we will be rescheduling these presenters for a future Coalition meeting. In the meantime, we wanted to share programmatic and contact information for these employment and job readiness training programs so that your programs and clients can access these important resources. Please contact the programs below directly if you or your clients have any questions about their services.

Department of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR)

  • The Department of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) serves people with disabilities between the ages of 16 to 80, and helps with gaining, maintaining and advancing in employment.
  • Eligible clients must have a permanent disability (intellectual, mental and/or physical in nature) and barriers to employment. In order to refer, client must make contact themselves for intake unless they need assistance to call, and in that case, a case manager can set up the appointment if they let the front desk staff know the customer cannot make the initial contact.
  • To request an intake, call 253-372-5900, or reach out to your local Work Source office for a referral. Please contact Allesandria Goard for more in-depth information on the services and nuances of the DVR program.

Pioneer Human Services  

  • Roadmap to Success is a job-readiness program for formerly justice involved individuals who are seeking full time employment
  • To be eligible for the Roadmap to Success program, clients must have a criminal background and they must want to go to work and be able to do so. Roadmap to Success is a 3-week class where students go through cognitive behavioral training, targeted resume and cover letter creation, job development and vocational assessments, hard and soft skills of interviewing, and support in connecting to employment.
  • You can submit your application here. For more information contact Rudy or reach out to pioneertraining@p-h-s.com  

Multi-Service Center

  • Career Ready is a 10-week aerospace manufacturing training for adults 18 and older who are receiving SNAP food benefits. This ensures tuition paid in full through the BFET program
  • Anyone living in the South King County area, who is low income and seeking a new industry to enter is encouraged to apply.
  • Those interested should contact Julie Sanchez, 206-549-6236 or email at Julies@mschelps.org   

Foundational Community Supports Supported Employment

  • Foundational Community Supports (FCS) is a program offering benefits for supportive housing and supported employment for Medicaid-eligible beneficiaries with complex needs. Amerigroup Washington, Inc. will work with housing and employment providers to help clients find and maintain jobs; acquire stable, independent housing; and gain the necessary skills to be successful.
  • The Supported Employment program provides one-to-one person centered supports to find and maintain paid employment. The FCS SE program can help in looking for the right job, getting ready for the interview, and improve job success by teaching helpful routines and working with their employer to ensure they get the aids and supports they need to be successful
  • To see if you client is eligible for services through Foundational Community Supports, you can submit a FCS Supported Employment Assessment Form (English). Spanish language form here.
  • All referrals should be submitted directly through Amerigroup. To apply, contact Amerigroup at FCSTPA@Amerigroup.com, call 1-844-451-2828 (TTY 711) or fax 1-844-470-8859. Amerigroup can be reached Monday-Friday from 8:00 AM-5:00 PM at the phone number provided.
  • For more information about Supported Employment services please email Krystal Baumann or call 360-522-2363 

WELD Works

  • WELD Works serves as a transitional labor program to connect people with employment opportunities in construction, clean-up, and general labor services.
  • Serving King and Snohomish Counties, the program’s model facilitates transitions from temporary to permanent employment as a part of successful reentry. WELD Works is a division of Weld Seattle, whose mission is to equip system impacted individuals with housing, employment and resources conducive to recovery and successful reintegration. To apply:
  • Those interested in applying are encouraged to fill out this referral form, or contact Jay Pershing at (206) 972-8033 or email works@weldseattle.org

2019 December 10 Public Benefits 101 Workshop

The Coalition hosted a Public Benefits 101 Workshop on Tuesday, December 10 as part of our on-going series of Case Manager Trainings. Over 90 direct service providers joined us for a three-hour training covering the basics of public assistance programs offered by the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS). Thank you to presenters Sara Robbins and Katie Scott from the Solid Ground Legal Benefits Assistance Program who led the training and shared their knowledge and passion with the room. A brief summary of the programs covered below.

Click here for slides from 12/10/2019 Presentation

The workshop began with an overview of cash programs administered by the state. The Aged, Blind and Disabled program (ABD) and Housing and Essential Needs Program (HEN) are the primary cash benefits available for single adults without children. Formerly called Disability Lifeline, ABD provides $197/month to adults with a disability who do not receive significant income from work or another public benefit program. HEN has similar eligibility requirements but does not result in a direct cash payment. Details differ by region, but the primary benefits consist of a rental payment voucher and case management services. Visit Washington Connection to see if you or your client may be eligible to apply for cash assistance.

For families, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (TANF) is the primary cash assistance program available. TANF has a work requirement called WorkFirst that mandates TANF recipients be looking for work or be enrolled in some sort of job training program. Clients are required to sign off on an Individual Responsible Plan (IRP), failure to meet this requirement can result in a reduced or terminated award. The presenters stressed to the room that case managers should request copies of their clients IRPs and review them closely, noting they have found success in reinstating benefits when they can point to unreasonable or inconsistent items in the plans. Katie also shared that WorkFirst can provide additional financial resources to those on TANF looking for employment help, but that this can be difficult to access. There is a support services directory that outlines what this entails, she encouraged the room to tell clients to print out a copy to bring with them when requesting assistance.

The most widely used DSHS program is EBT food benefits, as confirmed by the 67 attendees who completed our pre-workshop survey. This benefit scales based on income; an average food stamp award offers around $125/month. Check out this benefit calculator to see how much you or your client may be able to claim in food benefits. The presenters stressed that there is no minimum age requirement for food assistance, meaning that minor children not living with their parents can apply and receive benefits. Presenters encouraged case managers working with youth denied food assistance to refer cases to their program.

Working Connections Childcare program (WCCC) provides a subsidy for daycare that is paid directly to the provider. Families qualify either through enrollment in Workfirst or based on income, and homeless families who qualify for neither can still receive services through a homeless grace period. The grace period currently lasts four months, partial months count towards the total and childcare providers are hesitant to accept payment due to these restrictions.

Fortunately, there is help for families in need of assistance. We were joined by Alexandria Barbaria and Norma Renteria Lobo from Child Care Resources who shared information on their program that helps families navigate the childcare system. Childcare Resources helps families experiencing homelessness in King and Pierce county apply for WCCC and can assist in finding childcare providers. They have also been active in advocacy efforts around expanding the homeless grace period, an effort they plan to take into the 2020 legislative session starting in January.

DSHS offers an appeal process to those who have had any of the above benefits reduced or terminated. If you or someone you work with has an issue with their benefits and wants to understand their legal options, reach out to the following for more information.

Solid Ground Public Benefits Legal Assistance Program provides legal help and information to single adults and families whose public benefits have been reduced, terminated or denied.  Call 206-694-6792 or email benefitslegalhelp@solid-ground.org

The Northwest Justice Project provides low cost assistance to those involved with non-criminal legal problems including public benefit disputes. For a free screening call 2-1-1 or fill out an online referral form at nwjustice.org/apply-online

Washington Law Help: Online directory of civil legal information.

2019 October 17 General Membership Meeting Summary and Bring Seattle Home for Good

The Coalition hosted another lively and informative General Membership Meeting on Thursday, October 17th at Southside Commons in Columbia City. The energy in the room was palpable as over 50 direct service providers and community advocates came together to help us shape the future of our organization, and to provide insight in the ongoing work we are all engaged in. At our meeting Coalition members provided input on a discussion of the Coalition’s Mission statement, as well as our Vision and Values that are currently being developed. The thoughtful responses and pointed questions were an important reminder of the collective knowledge our members bring to this work – Thank You. Participants also provided valuable input to the Corporation for Supportive Housing to aid their efforts in developing and refining the details of our Regional Action Plan.

Take Action Now: Ask Seattle City Councilmembers to support the Home for Good. The Home for Good program was developed with members and partners of the Coalition, and the proposal is being sponsored by Councilmembers Lorena González and Lisa Herbold. Home for Good will provide a shallow rent subsidy to help people with disabilities who are transitioning from state assistance (primarily through Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) and Aged, Blind, and Disabled (ABD) to federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to prevent people from falling back into homelessness. Read David Kroman’s most recent Crosscut article about the proposal and use this link to Take Action Now and ask councilmembers to include this important program in the City’s budget. We see this as a real opportunity and need YOUR support to get as many supportive messages to councilmembers as possible.

At our meeting we were joined by Julissa Sanchez, South King County organizer with The Tenants Union of Washington who shared the recent Just Cause victory out of Burien. The City of Burien passed historic Just Cause legislation on Monday, October 7th thanks to tireless organizing work from the Tenants Union and renter advocacy organizations. Hear in Julissa’s words how this fight was won, and check out this handout for more information on how to bring the fight for Just Cause to your community.

Check out some other resources we discussed at our meeting, along with an update on our Voter Registration and Education work ahead of the November 5th General Election.

  • Kelsey Mesher with the Transportation Choices Coalition gave us a brief explainer on why the Coalition believes voting No on I-976 is so important to the communities we serve. Slashing billions of dollars meant for needed transportation improvements does not serve our community well, check out the campaign on Facebook for more information
  • Thank you to Debbie Thiele from the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) who led us in a follow up conversation on the continued formation of the Regional Action Plan (RAP). If you have other thoughts to share with Debbie, please email her at debbie.thiele@csh.org (feel free to cc’ Alison@homelessinfo.org so we can track what people are sharing as well).
  • The Coalition shared an alert from King County Public Health regarding a recent spike in fentanyl laced street drugs, both in powder and pressed pill form. Public Health wants to spread the word as far and wide as possible, they are making color printed copies of this information available free of charge to agencies who wish to distribute materials. Request free materials here.

Voter Registration & Work for Tuesday, November 5 General Election

  • Click here to see our Voter Registration Guide for homeless and unstably housed voters (online and downloadable versions).
  • Want to do voter work at your site? Email Hillary for more information and other materials! We want to help you and to know how many folks you help vote.
  • DEADLINES:
    • Monday, October 28 – deadline to register to vote online (state ID needed) or have paper registration form received by elections (can use SSN)
      • Note: if you will be mailing paper registration forms, please mail by Thursday 10/24 to insure that they will arrive to elections on time
      • If you will be turning in forms for people you work with, turn in within 5 days of them being signed to a vote center.  You should also use this cover form. Then let Hillary know how many folks you helped register.
  • Information for people with felony convictions – as long as someone is no longer reporting to DOC they can vote.