Today’s post is brought to you by Sara Robbins, Benefits Attorney at Solid Ground and Coalition on Homelessness Board Member. Please share this publication with any staff that are working with TANF recipients!
I wanted to let everyone know that there are significant changes happening to the TANF Sanction Rules. Starting November 1, 2014, if someone’s TANF grant is in sanction for 2 consecutive months the TANF grant will close. The current rule is that TANF will close after 4 consecutive months of sanction. I have attached a mailer that was sent out by DSHS to all TANF recipients informing them of the change. I am also including a link to the Washington Law Help publication that gives more information about TANF sanctions.
This rule change is especially important since there is a rule that if someone’s TANF closes 3 times they will be permanently disqualified from receiving TANF. If someone is permanently disqualified, anyone in the household will be ineligible for TANF.
Please feel free to contact myself (see below) or anyone in Family Assistance if you have questions about the rule change, You can also contact us if you are working with families that are currently in sanction or at risk of entering sanction.
We 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
The Coalition’s “Helping Homeless Students: McKinney-Vento 101” workshop is designed for school staff, nurses, and case managers to provide an overview of educational rights and common issues for homeless students. Presented by Katara Jordan, attorney with Columbia Legal Services, this workshop will introduce the federal McKinney-Vento Homelessness Assistance Act, which promotes educational stability, school access, support for academic success, and child-centered decision-making for homeless youth, children, and families.
In addition to providing a better understanding of the law, we intend this workshop to serve as a timely, informative, and collaborative platform between school staff and community-based case managers to work together effectively to support homeless students and their families. We’ll cover the basics, and address common thorny issues related to enrollment and transportation; working with unaccompanied youth; and participation in after-school activities. Together we’ll problem-solve and share ideas and strategies for back-to-school and throughout the school year.
By the time you leave the training, you should have both a solid understanding of the McKinney-Vento Homelessness Assistance Act, and valuable sources of information and professional resources to turn to within your local community, your school district, in Washington, and nationally to aid in your work to reach homeless youth at schools.
We are excited to bring staff from Coalition member agencies together with local public school staff to learn about the educational rights of homeless students, and how to support them at the start of the new school year.
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…
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!
The 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.
As this short session races ahead in Olympia, we need all voices raised! Our collective voice is powerful and legislators need to hear it in Olympia. These two bills must be passed out of their respective committees by Friday, Feb. 28 in order to move forward. Use the information in this alert to call and e-mail your legislators with these simple messages:
Pass House Bill 2368, which will stop the “sunset” that will significantly cut our funding source for shelters and other homelessness programs; and
Pass House Bill 1651, which will allow youth who made childhood mistakes to seal their record so that they are no longer prevented from education, employment, and housing.
Here’s more information about these messages…
Supporters in Olympia for Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day 2014 (#HHAD2014)
Our state’s most important source of funding for shelters and other homelessness programs is at risk! Lawmakers must extend the Homeless Housing and Assistance Surcharge (aka “Document Recording Fees”). Use this link to contact your state reps (or to look them up!). Ask them and their colleagues to SUPPORT House Bill 2368. A public hearing will be held Tuesday, February 25 at 1:30 p.m. in the Senate Committee on Financial Institutions and Housing & Insurance (FIHI).
Without this legislation, Washington will lose more than 62% of state funding for homelessness programs beginning in 2015. We cannot wait to address this next year. Please call TODAY!
Remember, you can use the FREE Legislative Hotline (staffed Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.) to leave a message for all three of your legislators: 1-800-562-6000. (Give the operator your address and they’ll look up your district and who your legislators are!)
Here’s a sample message of support:
Dear Representative/Senator, I urge you to support HB 2368 – the Homeless Housing and Assistance Surcharge. Shelters and programs who serve people who are homeless are vital. Help us We cannot take a big step backwards in the work to end homelessness. Please stop the sunset of these fees by voting YES! on HB 2368.
Youth Opportunity Act (HB 1651) allows youth, who cannot afford to have their records sealed by an attorney, fair opportunities for housing, education, and employment. We must seal (and stop the sale of) juvenile records so that youth can pursue education, find employment, and secure housing — and this is exactly what House Bill 1651 aims to do! Currently, Washington is 1 of 8 states that allows juvenile records to be public and available online. We can do so much better.
Today, February 24th, at 10 a.m., the Senate Human Services and Corrections (HSC) Committee will hear House Bill 1651. This hearing — happening right now! — is the single most important test this bill will face.
These three Senators on the HSC Committee are key and need to hear from their constituents. Click the links below to email, or call them directly:
Dear Senator, I urge you and your colleagues to vote YES! on HB 1651 – the Youth Opportunities Act. We must support youth as they work towards their educational goals, get good jobs that support our economy, and find safe, affordable places to live. Young adults who can afford to pay an attorney are able to seal their records, but those who can’t are stuck in a cycle of never-ending punishment – it’s unfair, and we can do better. Thank you!
Thank you for taking action to support these crucial bills!
Seattle Housing Authority recently accepted 24,000 applications for a coveted 2,000 placements on the Section 8 waiting list. Last week it announced that the 2,000 households had been chosen through a random lottery, but there’s a catch. Due to sequestration, the local housing authority also announced that it would be unable to issue vouchers to any of the selected households in the foreseeable future. This announcement comes amid news that the King County Housing Authority has suspended issuing any new vouchers to households on their waiting list as a result of sequestration. Local Section 8 wait lists are often closed for years at a time because of the overwhelming need for affordable housing in King County. In the space of a few weeks, sequestration has taken the situation from bad to worse, with 2,000 not-so-lucky households added to a wait list that for now looks indefinite.
Our partners at the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance provide a more in-depth look into the effects of sequestration on Section 8 recipients and local housing authorities here. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities provides an overview of the national impacts of Sequestration on Section 8 and other housing and homelessness funding sources.
This photograph by local business owner, citizen activist, and photographer David Entrekin always takes my breath away. Click on the image to see the larger photo, and you will see the words on the cardboard carefully laid out to make a sleeping surface: Made in America. That is how I think about homelessness, and it is especially, painfully apt as we think about homelessness among veterans of our armed forces.
At least 62,619 veterans were homeless overnight during the January 2012 one night counts across the nation. This shocking number includes veterans in shelters and transitional housing programs, as well as those who lack even basic overnight shelter. Last year, the Coalition developed a new part of the One Night Count designed to improve our knowledge about how many veterans are without basic overnight shelter.
Homelessness among veterans rivets people’s attention. People who are quick to think about homelessness as a complex combination of individual shortcomings, societal failures, and economic hard times, come easily to a simple conclusion: no person who risked his or her life in service to this nation should be shivering under a bridge.
In the last two years, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (the VA) has begun working more deliberately and closely with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to address homelessness among veterans. The good news is that this effort has meant that new, additional resources, including money, are being directed to reach out to, shelter, support, and house veterans. When the national 2012 One Night Count results were released a few weeks ago, Secretary Donovan at HUD and Secretary Shinseki at the VA proudly noted a 7% decrease in homelessness among veterans since the January 2011 count.
For our Veterans Interview Project (VIP),we train volunteers to ask short survey questions the morning after the One Night Count, placing them at public meal sites, day centers, employment and hygiene programs, and other locations where a high proportion of people are likely to have spent the previous night outdoors. Last year we partnered with 16 Coalition member agencies and other organizations, and spoke with nearly a thousand individuals. Our volunteers asked three simple questions:
Where did you stay last night?
Have you ever served in the U.S. Armed Forces?
Were you ever called into active duty as a member of the National Guard or as a Reservist?
Through this survey, and through our survey of key service providers who work with homeless people and veterans, we showed that at least 163 King County veterans lacked basic overnight shelter on this one cold, winter night. This information strengthened and informed our local, regional, and national work.
The Veterans Interview Project improved our local count of veterans, but the sad truth is that we know that actual numbers of unsheltered veterans are higher. Our careful counts are conservative, and not comprehensive. They allow us to state with confidence that at least 163 veterans in our community need immediate and long-term help, among the many hundreds of people who are outside overnight.
On January 25, 2013, we will be conducting our Veterans Interview Project again. If you are interested in helping the Coalition with this special project, we are looking for people who are available for a three hour shift on Friday, January 25, 2013, and who have experience working with veterans or people who are homeless. Please click here to fill out a volunteer application. Thank you.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program, otherwise known as food stamps, is on the cutting block in the fiscal cliff discussion. This is a crucial time and your legislators need to hear from YOU about how important this program is to sustaining the lives of many Washingtonians. The Anti-Hunger and Nutrition Coalition states that over 1 million Washingtonians rely on food stamps and that if the Farm Bill passes in its current state, then the monthly food budget of at least 234,000 homes in WA will decrease by $90 and 80,000 homes will be ineligible for the program.
The Food Resource and Action Center (FRAC) commented that it is very important to contact your legislators NOW because if the Farm Bill, which includes our nation’s food stamp program, becomes part of a larger legislative package, it will be much harder to convince legislators to vote against it. To contact your legislators, simply call the Legislative Hotline and they will connect you to your legislator’s office: (202) 224-3121. You can also write your legislator an email. If you are not sure who your legislators are, you can find out on the Washington State Legislature Page.
Here are some sample messages you can use from FRAC when contacting your legislators. Make sure to educate your representatives on the impact this bill would have on WA families (see above details).
“Over time, spending money to reduce hunger in America is a good investment. It more than pays for itself because it reduces long-term social costs such as the problems hungry children have in school and the health problems of people who don’t eat properly.”
“The food stamp program is working for the most vulnerable people in our nation. It is the country’s first line of defense against hunger, and cutting help for this most basic human need would be immoral.”
Make the call today, your representatives want to hear from YOU!
During our General Membership meeting yesterday, Kate Speltz did an amazing job walking our members through the Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) proposed changes to the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act as it relates to the Interim Continuum of Care (CoC) rule. If you think this topic sounds esoteric, than you’re right. This stuff is really complicated, but it’s also THE legislation that regulates significant funding for homeless prevention, housing, and services federally and at the state level through competitive grants. The National Alliance to End Homelessness has done an admirable job summarizing the proposed changes and Kate pulled out the parts of the CoC rule which services providers and organizations who serve the homeless would be most impacted by.
The proposed CoC rule will go into effect on August 30th and individuals and organizations are encouraged to submit comments to HUD before October 1, 2012. Kate is interested in receiving comments from providers and organizations which will help to inform the Seattle-King County response to the proposal, however she encourages all concerned individuals to comment directly to HUD. Here are two areas in the proposal that Kate thinks service providers and homeless and housing advocates might like to comment on:
McKinney Vento allowable funding. The current proposal specifically identifies which services can be paid for with McKinney funding. You are encouraged to review that list for services that you believe are important. Interpretation services, for example, are not currently included in the list. We know that many housing and homeless service organizations rely heavily on interpretive services when assessing, screening and serving homeless individuals.
This proposal also requires states to setup and use a centralized or coordinated assessment system for all people entering the homeless assistance system by the end of 2014. It isn’t completely clear what it means to coordinate assessment, but the deadline is set. You might want to comment on the approach and/or the time frame.