Join us as we dig into the Seattle Housing Authority’s new Stepping Forward proposal

sha logoMany people have contacted us about the Seattle Housing Authority’s (SHA) new Stepping Forward proposal, which involves changing the rent structure for SHA properties and voucher programs for tenants who are not elderly or disabled: rents would no longer be tied to the household’s income. There is important context for this proposal, and SHA has been a key partner in prioritizing people who are homeless for available subsidized housing. Many good questions and concerns are being raised, including by members of the Coalition, and by Seattle’s Mayor. 

Join us for an important opportunity to learn about and discuss this proposal at our September 18 General Membership meeting.  We expect the conversation to continue at our October meetings, too. We will welcome staff from SHA who will present the proposal in detail, and answer questions.  We anticipate a robust and respectful discussion. 

Please prepare for this conversation by reading the Seattle Housing Authority’s proposal, their Frequently Asked Questions about Stepping Forward guide, and the Tenant’s Union’s factsheet. And please talk with your colleagues and the people you serve about SHA’s past, present, and future role in our community’s response to homelessness and the affordable housing crisis.

Additionally, SHA invites your comments, concerns, and feedback on this proposal via steppingforward@seattlehousing.org or at a public meeting (schedule below).

Date & Time Location
Sept. 16, 6 p.m. Meadowbrook Comm. Cntr., 10517 – 35th Ave NE
Sept. 17, 6 p.m. Yesler Community Cntr., 917 E Yesler Way
Sept. 22, 6 p.m. Rainier Community Cntr., 4600 38th Ave S
Sept. 23, 6 p.m. NewHolly Gathering Hall, 7054 – 32nd Ave S
Sept. 29, 6 p.m. High Point Comm. Cntr., 6920 34th Ave SW

And remember, there’s no better place to gather accurate and timely information and take part in deep discussion than at our General Membership Meetings. We’re looking forward to seeing you on Thursday the 18th! Same place and time: 9-11 a.m. at the E. Cherry YWCA (2820 E. Cherry St, Seattle, 98144). 

Resources from our “Helping Homeless Students: McKinney-Vento 101″ workshop

Link

Help and support signpostWe had such a great turnout at our “Helping Homeless Students: McKinney-Vento 101” workshop on August 26, 2014, and we hope you found the topic just as engaging and informative as we do. As promised, here is a list of resources our wonderful presenter, Katara Jordan from Columbia Legal Services, put together to navigate common hurdles that prevent homeless students and their families from accessing the valuable services they need to get to and stay in school.

Basic Education Rights and Opportunities in Public Schools

http://www.governor.wa.gov/oeo/publications/manual_basic_education_rights.pdf

http://www.governor.wa.gov/oeo/publications/manual_basic_education_rights_spanish.pdf

How to be an Education Advocate

http://www.governor.wa.gov/oeo/publications/manual_education_advocate.pdf

http://www.governor.wa.gov/oeo/publications/manual_education_advocate_spanish.pdf

Protecting the Educational Rights of Students with Disabilities in Public Schools

http://www.governor.wa.gov/oeo/publications/manual_students_with_disabilities.pdf

http://www.governor.wa.gov/oeo/publications/manual_students_with_disabilities_spanish.pdf

Ombudsman’s services

http://www.governor.wa.gov/oeo/publications/2a_english.pdf

Other general information including the above handouts:

http://www.governor.wa.gov/oeo/publications/default.asp

Serving Students Experiencing Homelessness under Title I

http://center.serve.org/nche/downloads/briefs/titlei.pdf

What Service Providers Should Know

http://center.serve.org/nche/downloads/briefs/service_providers.pdf

Washington HomelessYouth.org Project

http://homelessyouth.org/washington

 

What you need to know about upcoming short-term cuts to Food Stamps.

Today’s post is brought to you by Sara Robbins, Benefits Attorney at Solid Ground and Coalition on Homelessness Board Member. 

At the federal level it’s called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Here in Washington we call it Basic Food. But many just know the program that helps people who are low income put food on the table through monthly benefits as ‘Food Stamps.’ Keeping the names straight can be hard enough, but there’s something on the horizon that is even more important to be aware of and straighten out…

There is going to be a short-term cut in Food Stamps for some households in November and December.  It is going to be confusing. Be sure to thoroughly read this publication from Washington Law Help that explains the cut.

In the meantime, here are ways you can proactively help folks receiving Basic Food:

  • Emphasize that the benefit loss is for two months only.  Recipients should contact the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) if they do not receive two benefit deposits in January 2015.
  • Ask whether the household has separate utility bills that they pay each month – that is, utilities are not included in their rent.  If so, urge them to contact DSHS immediately to provide this information so they will continue to qualify for higher benefits with NO months of reduced benefits.   
  • Encourage new applicants for Basic Food to let their caseworker know if they have separate utility payments each month.

Contact me (see below) if you have any questions, and please share this publication with any staff that are working with clients/guests! 

Sara Robbins, Benefits Attorney
Phone: 206.694.6741 Fax: 206.694.6777
www.solid-ground.org  www.solidgroundblog.com

Take Action on Wednesday, June 4th — Support our Walmart Workers

Our friends at Making Change at Walmart, Puget Sound Coalition  alerted us to an upcoming action to support our friends who work at Walmart. Read on for more details! 


Greetings Making Change at Walmart Community Partners, 

Thank you so much to those of you who were able to attending the recent Report Backs in Seattle and Mt. Vernon. For those of you who missed it, we had an outstanding crew of workers at both events who shared their reasons for joining associates across the U.S. in making June 4th a day of action.

We heard from Jared from the Lynwood store who recounted being forced to use dangerous chemicals to wax the floor without the legally required safety equipment. We also heard from Patty in Mt. Vernon about having to go to work with the flu because she couldn’t afford to lose a day of pay. Though workers shared their personal stories of being subjected to unsafe working conditions, low wages, lack of respect, and management retaliation, it was clear through the OUR Walmart Listening Project that what is happening here in Washington is happening around the country. These brave workers are standing up to say they’ve had enough. They are leading the way for many others who have been silenced by Walmart’s militant retaliation.

It’s time to strike! ARE YOU WITH US?

OUR Walmart and Making Change at Walmart will be co-hosting two actions. We will be building an 8 x 8 foot wall to visually express the ways in which Walmart has created economic inequality in our communities. Workers will be bringing personal items to add to the wall, such as medical bills and eviction notices. Feel free to bring something to add.

June 4
Mt. Vernon Walmart (2301 Freeway dr) 7:00-8:00AM
Lynnwood Walmart (1400 164th st SW) 11:00-Noon

Thank you in advance for your continued support and solidarity. It means the world to these workers to know that when they stand up for what is right, they don’t have to stand alone. Please RSVP to me, Reagan Jackson (rjackson@ufcw21.org),  so I can have a sense for how many community partners will be joining us.  

Download a copy of the flyer here: June 4th Walmart Action

$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

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.

__________________

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.