Single Adults Advocacy Committee: Report back from 25 Cities Initiative + Coordinated Entry for Single Adults

The most recent Single Adults Advocacy Committee meeting on Thursday, October 9 was focused on our community’s involvement in the national 25 Cities Initiative, designed to reduce homelessness among veterans and people who are chronically homeless. With that included how ’25 Cities’ relates to coordinated entry for single adults, and how we can be good informants and advocates as these policies, programs, and budgets are developed. Kelli Larsen, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Plymouth and a Design Team member for the 25 Cities Initiative, led us in conversation. 

Here’s a brief report of what was discussed…

The 25 Cities Initiative is in the twenty-five cities where Veteran Homelessness is highest. Goal is to end homelessness, and, locally, we know that a single solution – just increase housing, or just coordinate the stock we have – is not enough. Within this goal is a focus on creating and implementing a single adults coordinated entry, much like has happened with families (Family Housing Connection) and youth (Youth Housing Connection). This is not an easy, straightforward or simple task: the single adults population is much, much larger and still very diverse. Officially, the four principles guiding this complex coordinated entry process are: (1) assess, (2) assist, (3), match, and (4) place. More loosely, leads on this project want to ensure that the system they create and implement is simple, meets real needs, and has true benefits (that eclipse any inherent negatives).

An example of the complexity is that it is not possible to screen thousands of single adults who are homeless, and perform regular check-ins. Our community has learned (and is still learning a lot) from the successes, complications, and frustrations associated with YHC and FHC. Plus, we want to be sure to coordinate the coordination that already exists. SAAC explored important elements of a coordinated entry system for single adults, as well as discussed positives and negatives of various components.

The assessment tool of choice at the national level is the VI-SPDAT, which Kelli shared with the group. In conjunction with our local community’s involvement with the 25 Cities Initiative, this tool was tested within a handful of agencies. SAAC talked bout the positives and negatives of the tool, areas for improvement (e.g., wording, language, tone, etc.), and what is missing. Some complicating factors are that this test does not appear to be adaptable, it doesn’t plug into our HMIS system, and the process for Case Managers to upload information had many glitches. Some SAAC members had administered the test, and shared their experience and feedback as well as compared it to the VAT. As a result of this conversation, Kelli will be sharing our valuable feedback about the VI-SPDAT with the ’25 Cities’ federal partners, as they are exploring ways to improve the tool with its designer, OrgCode.

Other points of discussion centered around willingness and ability of certain folks who are homeless to easily complete the process, or gather necessary documentation to move into housing (when available). Also brought up were concerns over how an assessment could discern situational-related issues, length of homelessness, and changes over time with clients that would affect their ‘score.’ Many discussed the need for – and current examples of – continuation and coordination of care for single adults – now popularly termed “case conferencing and navigation.” In addition, the need for translation was reviewed.


Here are the advocacy opportunities we heard about… 

NOV 4 ELECTION, AND VOTE YES ON PROP 1 FOR SEATTLE TRANSIT
Speak out and call on community members to add bus service by voting YES for Seattle Transit! You should have already received your ballot — please call 206.296.VOTE to get a replacement ballot. Remember: every day until 
November 4th is election day because we vote by mail!  Encourage those around you to vote, vote early, and vote YES for Seattle Transit – Prop 1. 

SHOW SUPPORT FOR A SOUND TRANSIT LOW INCOME FARE
What’s better than one low income fare? Two that work together to keep our community members moving. We are thrilled to announce that Sound Transit is requesting YOUR input for their proposed low income fare program, which will be modeled after the low income Metro fare we worked so hard to win.

Click here to take Sound Transit’s low income fare proposal survey, and be sure to add YOUR comments about how this fare would help you, your colleagues, and the clients and guests you serve. The deadline for submission is a mere 10 days away (10/23) – don’t wait to share your support!

Here’s an opportunity to speak out and show your support in-person: Sound Transit Public Hearing - Thurs., Oct. 23 from Noon – 1 p.m. @ Union Station: 401 S. Jackson St., Seattle

SHOW UP FOR CITY OF SEATTLE AND KING COUNTY BUDGET HEARINGS
The Seattle City Council and the King County Council is in the process of meeting to set budget priorities and begin making adjustments to the Mayor’s and Executive’s budgets.  We need to REPRESENT at these public budget hearings. Invite residents, guests, clients, co-workers, and community members to stand alongside human services workers and advocates as we press our budget recommendations.

Not sure what’s at stake in the budget process? Check out our Budget Advocacy postcards to get on-point messaging! We encourage all those folks to fill out and deliver or send in the Coalition’s City and County Budget Advocacy Postcards (in the ‘What’s Hot’ box on the homepage).

Seattle City Council Budget Committee Hearing
Thursday, October 23 at 5:30 p.m.

King County Council Budget Committee Hearings
Thursday, October 23, at 6:30 p.m. (Kent)
Wednesday, October 29, 6:30 p.m. (Seattle)

More information is available in the Coalition’s earlier blog post.

 

Families with Children Committee: Back-to-school reports and the future of joint FWC-FHI meetings

Our Families with Children (FWC) Committee gathered in September to discuss the future of its new quarterly joint meeting with the Committee to End Homelessness’ Family Homelessness Initiative. They also reported back on the start of the new school year for the students who are homeless that they serve. Here are some brief notes from the discussion:

HOW DID START OF SCHOOL GO FOR MCKINNEY-VENTO STUDENTS?
Please be sure to e-mail rebecca[at]homelessinfo[dot]org
with your back-to-school experience(s).

  • Backlog of enrollment paperwork
    • In Seattle, had students who didn’t go the first 2 days of school because of this.
    • Others said the first two days of school had VERY fast turn-around re: paperwork, but slowed significantly after that.
  • Transportation
    • Reports of buses  being 1.5 hours late – A. Moon (Mary’s Place)
    • Reports of taxis being 2 hours late – A.Moon (Mary’s Place)
    • Case Manager said she went above and beyond to verify and confirm – multiple times – that the orders were correct. And still, these delays happened. She even had a taxi with incorrect orders and wouldn’t take the student to the correct school!
    • In West Seattle, it took one week to get a bus to pick up a student.
    • Safety concerns of younger students being assigned ORCA cards instead of a taxi or bus
    • No one reported ORCA card issues (e.g., then not being loaded)
    • Multiple people reported having concerns and questions around the 1-mile rule  (i.e., no transportation, must walk). Case Manager said that 2-mile rule for homeless families who live in Queen Anne is quite difficult. There is a much greater impact of this rule for families who are homeless
  • Proactive and flexible engagement from Liaison
    • Liaison w/ Lowel (school) came to provider to talk through McK-V and connect with families. SUPER HELPFUL
  • In class/Teacher issues
    • Parent said middle-school aged son was marked down in class because he didn’t have correct school supplies. The teacher didn’t know he was McK-V student. KS worked with Child Care Resources to get supplies, and to report to principal and work with teacher. School doesn’t seem to understand that they’re ‘on the hook’ to do better. And Jr. high and HS is very challenging because there are so many more teachers.
    • Parent shared that her other child is being pulled out of SpEd by the school. This doesn’t make sense since her child is visually impaired.
  • Agency Supports
    • Sacred Heart said things went really well. They met with families earlier than normal, and that was a big help.

CEH/FHI DISCUSSION -  future conversations, points of learning

  • Strategies
  • Shared results
  • Topics:
    • DIVERSION
    • SYSTEMS REALIGNMENT: changing of housing stock, realignment
    • DATA – there’s such a focus on quantitative, but where’s qualitative. And how do we ensure that happens? Idea for FWC to organize around this as combined we have huge amounts of rich experience w/I organizations and families served.
    • re: RRH: feels like there are high expectations, and there’s a reality of the affordability of housing. Not easy, not quick process. Landlords aren’t exactly on-tap.
    • LANDLORD ENGAGEMENT: Concerns about TANF families who have gotten housing in rental market. While no case manager wants to stop homeless families from becoming housed, we want to do everything to make sure that they aren’t “rapidly unhoused.”
    • ACCESSIBILITY OF UNITS
    • REFERRAL PROCESS: many involved in the Pilot said they have empty units, and are loosing money. Families are being referred that don’t actually qualify.
    • “BARRIER REMOVAL WITHIN SYSTEM”
    • RRH – after the pilot is over: what modifications do we suggest, and how can we work to follow up. Discussion about how and when evaluation is conducted.
    • EVALUATION: want to truly understand what this means, when it happens, what’s involved, who does it, etc.
    • OUTCOMES: “who’s the keeper of transparency in that system”
    • DEFINITION OF SUCCESS: what is the definition, who defines it, is it open to suggestion, and in what ways does it differ from our organizations’ definition of success?
  • Meeting structure: this is what the group wants to hear more about at each joint meeting, and especially the upcoming joint meeting. [ we spoke about the RRH pilot evaluation process as an example]
    • Who makes decisions
    • Who’s involved in the committees, subcommittees, participating agencies, etc.
    • Who is the audience of each of the FHI, CEH, FWC mtgs?
    • Who has influence? And to what degree?
    • Families who have voice – how does FHI reach out to them, and where can others input?
    • Clarity – generally speaking
    • Focused guiding questions are very helpful, but don’t need handouts early.
    • Comment: “Will what we say have an impact?”
    • Funders: taking a backseat would be helpful, and make sure that they are clear on focus of meeting.
    • Request for built-in structural parameters of what’s being facilitated, and who is facilitating.

In lieu of the regularly-scheduled November FWC meeting, please mark your calendars and plan to attend the November 6 community meeting on Family Coordinated Entry.

The consultants contracted to review our community’s coordinated entry for families – Katharine Gale and Kate Bristol (Focus Strategies) – will review their findings, present information on other  system models, and facilitate dialogue around key challenges. This is an open meeting for all, not just organizations who participated in the Pilot project. Your presense, comments, and feedback are important — join us!

Community Meeting on Family Coordinated Entry
Thursday, November 6, 2014 from 9 am – 12-noon
Tukwila Community Center, Banquet Room
12424 42nd Ave S., Tukwila, WA 98168
For questions and to RSVP, please contact michelle[dot]valdez[at]cehkc[dot]org

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