Work to Ban Source of Income Discrimination!

Right now House Bill (HB) 1633 and Senate Bill (SB) 5407 are making their way through committees in the House & Senate, if passed, these bills will ban source of income discrimination in the state of Washington!

These bills will prohibit landlords from refusing to rent to an applicant and from evicting tenants based on the source of income of an otherwise eligible applicant or tenant. This will protect people who use social security, child support, SSI, Section 8, & HEN to pay their rent. Hear from Section 8 Tenants who faced discrimination based on their source of income in the video below and click here to read more about this victory in Renton.

HB 1633 had public hearing in the House Committee on February 7th and it is scheduled for executive session in the House Committee on February 16th!

Your legislators need to hear from you TODAY and every day until we pass these bills! Here’s how to take action:

Click here to use the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance bill tracker to track the progress of bills that affect housing & homelessness!

 

January 2017 General Membership Meeting: Accountable WA, Legislative Advocacy

Thanks to those who joined us on Thursday, January 17 for our first General membership meeting of 2017! We had an action packed agenda complete with a call in to Olympia to start off our 2017 legislative advocacy. We were joined by community members from Catholic Community Services & Catholic Housing Services, Crisis Clinic, Friends of Youth, Housing Development Consortium, Jewish Family Services, Low Income Housing Institute, Plymouth Housing Group, REACH, Real Change, Recovery Cafe, All Home, Youth Care, and more! We heard a great presentation, called in to Olympia about legislative priorities, and signed famous Coalition Advocacy Postcards.

Please read on for a summary of our meeting & important actions YOU can take before our next General Membership Meeting on Thursday, February 16th.

Accountable WA, Kelli Smith, WA Budget & Policy Center

As we know, Washington State had one of the most inequitable tax structures in the country, we do not have an income tax and therefore rely on sales tax and property tax to fund vital programs our communities need and to raise revenue. This structure causes people with lower incomes to pay disproportionately more of their income to taxes than people in the highest income bracket.

The WA Budget and Policy Center, working with many organizations, has developed a package of legislation that would fix some of our tax problems, and make it so that people who are earning the least are not contributing the most in taxes (currently people who are in the lowest 20% income group contribute 16.8% of their income as WA state and local taxes, compared to those in the top 1% who contribute just 2.4% of their income to WA state and local taxes).

There are two main goals of Accountable WA, we encourage you to learn more at the links below and click here to view slides of this presentation.

  • Lead with equity by reducing taxes for households making $75,000 or less.
  • Generate $4 billion per biennium in new revenue for schools, other priorities from equitable sources.

Ponder This: 
Have you ever been troubled with choosing between raising property taxes to fund pubic transit, schools, or another important social program? The Accountable WA package has a measure to cap the amount of property taxes that people with household incomes under $75,000 pay: it shuts off property taxes at 2% of household income. It’s AMAZING because the same measures will apply to RENTERS!!! (As you can tell, we’re very excited about this). The gist for renters is that if your household income is under $75,000/year, you can calculate your property tax as 15% of your rent, and if that amount is above the 2% cap of your income, then you get a rebate! More than 40% of Washington homeowners and renters would benefit from this property tax safeguard credit, and then people would hopefully feel like they can vote to fund essential programs through taxes. This is definitely worth calling to your state legislators about 🙂

The proposal is strong and we encourage you to check it out here, visit www.budgetandpolicy.org and www.allinforwa.org For more information!

Legislative Session Highlights & Updates:
The 2017 Legislative Session started on Monday, January 9th. We partner with many organizations for legislative advocacy – check out some of our priority messages below, visit www.wliha.org for Housing & Homelessness priorities & stay tuned for more. Print our postcard to send these priorities to Olympia!

  • Washington Housing Opportunities Act (HB 1570) – prime sponsor: Representative Nicole Macri (43rd LD) – 
    • MAKE PERMANENT & INCREASE funding for housing & homelessness services (HB 1570). End the sunset on all fees. Provide flexibility for local communities; drop the inefficient mandate to use 45% of funds for one purpose.
  • Housing & Essential Needs (HEN), Aged, Blind, & Disabled (ABD), and SSI Facilitation
    • PROTECT elders and people with disabilities, & prevent homelessness. Help people meet their basic needs & access recovery: FULLY FUND Housing & Essential Needs (HEN), Aged, Blind, & Disabled (ABD), and SSI Facilitation. Invest $29.617M to increase the $197/mo. grant to $400 for people eligible for ABD. Invest $1.893M to fund $20/mo. transportation assistance for people eligible for HEN. End the asset limit for ABD & HEN.
  • Source of Income Discrimination – Ban it!
    • ELIMINATE barriers to housing. Ban Source of Income Discrimination so that renters who use housing subsidies and other sources of income support can find and keep homes in their communities.
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
    • FULLY RESTORE the TANF grant to its 2011 level & end the asset test. This will increase support for a family of 3 to $562/mo. and allow families with children to save for necessities or a rental deposit.

Take Action this week & next: 

  • Ride the Advocacy Express to Housing & Homelessness Advocacy Day on Thursday February 2nd! Want to join? Let us know by January 27th. Click here for more information.
  • Speak UP in Olympia TODAY (and every day/week throughout this legislative session)
    • Print Advocacy Postcards and share them with people you work with or in communities you are part of – mail them to the Coalition and we will bring them to Olympia in a stack of over 100 on HHAD.
    • Who are your legislators? If you don’t know, click here to find out (all the way from local to federal level). Next step: call their offices and advocate for important bills & budgets!
    • 1-800-562-6000 – Legislative Hotline in Olympia – you can call from 8am – 8pm Monday – Friday, and the kind people on the phone will take your message and give it to your representatives (you can cc the Governor as well!)
  • Homelessness Advocacy 101 workshops: click here to register today!
    • Saturday, February 4: 10:30am – 1pm at the UW School of Social Work
    • Wednesday, February 22: 6-8pm in Ballard
    • Sunday, February 26: 1pm in Bellevue
    • Sunday, March 5: 1pm in Auburn

Prep for our February 16th meeting: 
In February we will be joined by Sara Hoffman from Coordinated Entry for All to have a discussion about the system. We’ll also have a chance to talk about the new All Home Dashboards. Here’s what you can do to prep:

Sound Transit Proposition 1: Mass Transit Now!

The November 8th election is rapidly approaching and we at the Coalition are excited about one measure that you’ll find at the end of your ballot. Sound Transit (A Regional Transit Authority) Proposition No. 1 will be the very last thing on the ballot and we encourage you to vote yes! 

In the past the Coalition has worked on other transit issues, including the ORCA LIFT fare and the Move Seattle transit measure. We care about affordable transit because it allows low-income individuals to access opportunities that they otherwise wouldn’t, it helps people survive and increases their ability to thrive in our community. mtn_economic_commuters1200x627

Here are reasons why the Coalition is excited about Proposition 1:

  • Proposition 1 invests more than $20 million in affordable housing, and requires 80% of surplus land to be prioritized for building affordable housing.
  • Mass transit built as part of this proposition will serve more than 36,000 current units of subsidized housing.  As more affordable housing is built along the line, more people will be served by transit.
  • It will increase access to jobs and education for low-income, working and middle class families by providing an affordable transportation option with shorter commute times.
  • It will provide reliable public transportation for seniors and people with disabilities which will allow for more independence.
  • Mass transit will reduce air and carbon pollution, which disproportionately impacts people of color.

mtn_economic_incomebracket1200x627-1

Voting yes on Sound Transit Proposition 1 will increase equity in our community by increasing opportunities for low-income and middle class individuals. This is the most cost effective way to expand transit and help people get where they need to go!

For more information on Proposition 1 visit masstransitnow.com and for updates on the campaign find them on facebook.

If you’re passionate about this issue and would like to volunteer with the Mass Transit Now! campaign you can sign up to doorbell, call voters, go to community events, do data entry or other important work here!

We’re on board, are you? im-on-board

Recap: Families with Children Meeting – KidsPlus Training and Coordinated Entry for All – June 22, 2016

Big thanks to all who were able to join us for last month’s Families with Children committee meeting. As always, it was great to see a room full of familiar and new faces!

We were joined by Mary Dunbar from Kids Plus (Public Health – Seattle & King County), who offered a training on working with guests to address their mental health needs. Danielle Winslow (All Home) provided timely Coordinated Entry for All updates with the group. Highlights and resources from these two folks are below:

  • A list of mental health services available for children can be found here.
    • The YMCA also operates the Children’s Crisis Outreach Response System (CCORS), which offers urgent crisis outreach as well as short-term stabilization resources to children and youth in King County, as well as their families.
    • King County Mental Health’s wraparound services offer additional supports to children to help stabilize them in the community. More information and application processes for this program can be found on the King County website.
  • Adults and folks of all ages can access mental health services at the locations listed on this document.
    • The Crisis Clinic is an excellent resource for folks to call if in need of immediate crisis help, and they also provide information about suicide warning signs and crisis intervention strategies.
    • King County Crisis and Commitment Services are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to provide initial outreach services to folks not already accessing outpatient care in King County as well as evaluation of people with mental disorders for possible involuntary detention in psychiatric facilities according to the mental illness law in the State of Washington.
    • Throughout King County and the state of Washington, low-cost and free clinics are available for folks to access mental and physical healthcare needs. Mary suggests looking into Consejo, Cornerstone, and Project Access Northwest as resources to learn more about mental health services for clients who don’t have insurance.

Danielle joined the committee to update the group on the latest updates to Coordinated Entry for All in King County. The latest handout for stakeholders in the community can be found here, and below are some additional updates:

  • Coordinated Entry for All now has a Systems Manager. Sara Hoffman (sara[dot]hoffman[at]kingcounty[dot]gov) can be contacted with any questions
  • With the implementation of Coordinated Entry for All and a shift away from Family Housing Connection and Youth Housing Connection comes a new website! Check it out here. (For now, folks can still access the FHC and YHC websites, but these will soon be re-directed)
  • All but the Eastside Regional Access Points for Coordinated Entry for All throughout King County have been selected by All Home (Veterans and Young Adults have additional access points):
    • North King County – Solid Ground, Meridian Center
    • Seattle – Catholic Community Services w/ YouthCare and Somali Youth and Family Club
    • Kent – YWCA
    • Federal Way – Multi-Service Center
  • Each of these Regional Access Points (RAPs) is in a different stage, but all will be ready by the end of July

Transit Riders Union Human Services Bus Ticket Campaign

The Transit Riders Union (TRU) is organizing to ensure that everyone in our community can access transit options, especially with the recent expansion of the Light Rail and subsequent changes to some bus service.
As a reminder, the ORCA LIFT low-income fare is now available for anyone in King, Snohomish, or Pierce county who makes less than 200% of the federal poverty limit ($23,760 for a household of 1, $40,320 for a household of 3). Visit www.orcalift.com for more information!

The following information was shared at our April 21 General Membership meeting, and prepared as a guest blog post by Katie Wilson, General Secretary of TRU. PDF version here.


Human Services Bus Ticket CampaignTransit Riders Union
progress report & call to action
April 25, 2016

Progress!

  • The problem: Toward the end of last year TRU started realizing that the expansion of Link Light Rail and the Metro bus service restructure would raise barriers for people who use bus tickets, since the tickets and paper transfers are not accepted as proof of payment on light rail.
  • The pressure: After a letter and meetings with councilmembers produced inconclusive results, we started a petition and announced a public action for April 16th. The KC Exec’s office quickly got in touch to tell us they were working on a solution.
  • 2016 0426 bus and light rail passThe solution: This “combo-ticket” will be available starting mid-June, at a cost $11 for a booklet of 10. (It is priced at 20% of the value of the bus tickets, with no extra cost for the light rail pass.) It will also be possible to swap out tickets already purchased. Until then, King County Metro has said that if organizations purchase Sound Transit Link day passes at $1 each, they will throw in twice as many bus tickets for free (Contact: Brandon Banks, brandon.banks@kingcounty.gov, 206-477-6664.)

More in the works…

  • Raising the cap: Since we’ve heard from many organizations that they were not allocated their full ticket request this year, we have also urged county councilmembers to raise the cap. Councilmember Dave Upthegrove has been very responsive on this issue (call or email him to say thanks!) and we understand that legislation is in the works to raise the cap in the near future, hopefully in May.
  • Reducing the “match”: Clearly many organizations are unable to purchase enough tickets not because of the cap, but because of the cost. We’ve begun push for the tickets to be priced at less than 20% of face value, and Councilmember Upthegrove has expressed willingness to have this conversation. We don’t have any firm commitment yet, though, so we need your help. If the cost of the tickets is a burden for your organization, please address this issue in the survey (see below)!

For the future

  • Card-based solutions: One thing that has emerged clearly through this campaign is that for many low-income, no-income and homeless people, acquiring enough tickets to meet their transportation needs is a time-consuming and frustrating daily process. Although some need for single-use tickets will remain, many people could be better served by an unlimited monthly ORCA (or ORCA LIFT) pass, or a card that could be refilled by social service organizations at a deep discount. We have suggested this to Metro and to councilmembers and they have expressed a willingness to explore options.

What you can do

  • Take the survey by Friday, May 6: King County created an online survey of organizations that distribute the tickets, to help them assess the program and make decisions about raising the cap and reducing the match. The deadline was April 8, but since the word seems not to have got out to everyone, they have opened it back up till May 6. If you submitted a response between April 8 and April 25, it was not received (even though the survey still appeared to be live), so please fill it out again! The survey can be found at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/B73JFLB
  • Stay in touch: Transit Riders Union will continue working with the Coalition on Homelessness, but if you’d like to get direct communications on this specific issue from TRU, email or call Katie Wilson (contact info below) and introduce yourself.

Contact: Katie Wilson, General Secretary | 206-781-7204 | katie@transitriders.org
Transit Riders Union | P.O. Box 20723 | Seattle, WA 98102

2016 Community Resource Exchange: Wed. April 6 at CenturyLink Field

The 2016 Community Resource Exchange will be held Wednesday, April 6th at CenturyLink Field.  Please register HERE as a service provider. Download, post, and share the 2016 Community Resource Exchange Outreach Poster.

This is a day where barriers are reduced to haircuts, dental checks, free shoes, a hot meal, transportation, and so much more! Click here for more info about the exchange, run by United Way of King County, or email exchange [at] uwkc [dot] org.

The Coalition on Homelessness will be hosting a Voter Registration table!  Email Hillary if you’re interested in more information about our voter registration work for people who are unstably housed, or if you’d like to volunteer.

Outreach Poster 2016-page-001

Event Announcement: The New York Experience with Rent Regulations (10/15)

Posted with permission from the Tenants Union of Washington State and Timothy Collins

The New York Experience with Rent Regulations
Timothy L. Collins – former Exec. Director, New York City Rent Guidelines Board

timothyOctober 15, 2015 – 7:30 pm
Tenants Union of Washington State, 5425 B Rainier Ave, Seattle, WA 98118

The Tenants Union of Washington State has invited Timothy L. Collins to talk about how rent regulations have worked in New York City.

Mr. Collins was Executive Director and Counsel of the New York City Rent Guidelines Board for seven years, managing a research and administrative staff for a board that sets rents for one million housing units in New York City. He has an unmatched grasp of the on-the-ground realities – economic, political, social and legal – of New York City and state rental housing and efforts to keep it affordable.

Mr. Collins also served as Assistant Attorney General of New York State in the Real Estate Finance Bureau, and as Assistant Counsel in the New York City Office of Rent and Housing Maintenance. He is currently a partner in the law firm of Collins, Dobkin and Miller LLP in New York City, and teaches constitutional history at Pace University there.

Mr. Collins will address both the controversies around rent regulation and the question of home rule for cities on housing issues.

For more details, see Mr. Collins paper: “Rent Regulation in New York: Myths and Facts” – http://www.seattle.gov/council/licata/attachments/Rent-Regulation-in-New-York-Myths-and-Facts.pdf

For more information: Tenants Union of Washington State, 206-722-6848, tenantsunion.org. Peter Costantini, jpetercostantini@comcast.net, 206-290-0219.

Recap: General Meeting and Street Drugs 101 Case Manager Training – June 18,2015

Taking Action at the General Meeting
TAKING ACTION at the General Meeting — making calls to our lawmakers!

What a meeting!  Among the friendly faces were representatives from SHARE, YWCA, Plymouth Housing Group, Housing Development Consortium, Child Care Resources, Compass Housing Alliance, Housing Justice Project, Hopelink, REACH/Evergreen Treatment Services, North Helpline, Catholic Community Services, Recovery Cafe, Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, Jewish Family Services, Aridell Mitchell Home (Goodwill Development Association), Washington Family Counseling Service, ROOTS, YouthCare, El Centro de la Raza, Multi-Service Center, Year Up, and 2-1-1.

Following the General Meeting, representatives from even more organizations and community members joined us for our Street Drugs 101 + Naloxone + Related Laws training.

Both were informative meetings – Here’s a brief recap . . . 
[Psssst! Don’t miss out in the future — add our General Meeting dates to your calendar.]


June 18, 2015 General Membership Meeting Report-back

Smoking Ban update – On Thursday, May 28, the Board of Park Commissioners voted unanimously (8-0) to pass a smoking ban in Seattle Parks. This ban will take effect 30 days after the vote, likely beginning in July. While this is still a disappointing outcome, it’s important to remember the impact of our collective action. By speaking up with many community members and organizations, we were able to influence the removal of the $27 citation, ensure a “Right to Dispute” be made available, and see to it that there is oversight of enforcement. An emphasis of education is also a feature of this policy. Read the Seattle Parks and Recreation’s release about the new smoking ban. 

Now, we all have continued work to do to ensure that what is “in writing” is put into action, and that whatever plays out is brought to light. This means we need you, your colleagues, your friends and family, and, certainly, the people you serve who are (likely) most impacted by this policy to keep us informed about how the implementation and enactment of this policy plays out! Remember: the relationships we’ve formed with folks at Seattle Parks is part of the reason our advocacy is effective. When you speak up, people listen! Keep us informed by calling 206.204.8350 or by emailing us at speakup@homelessinfo.org. 

Coalition Updates —
The voter registration deadline for the August 4th primary is Monday, July 6! 
Help people you work with register to vote and make sure that your/their registration is current (download our flyer below). While it may not be a presidential election year, this year’s elections are very important because half of the King County Council and all nine of the Seattle City Council are up for reelection! These are the people who most directly affect our daily lives in Seattle and King County and since Seattle is re-districting, it’s a big year and important for everyone who is eligible to vote. Use our Homeless Voters’ Information guide to guide the process – the information about registering applicable, though the dates are for the last election. Visit our blog for more details and tips.

Download: FLYER about Registering to Vote in time for the Primary Election (print 2-sided on the long edge, then cut in half)

Project Cool for Back-to-School is well underway!

  • Volunteer Days will be Monday, July 13 – Sunday, July 19 with additional shifts on Monday and Tuesday, July 20 & 21 for backpack pickup and inventory of remaining supplies. Sign-up today through homelessinfo.org!
  • Interested in hosting a back-to-school supply drive? Contact hillary@homelessinfo.org!
  • Share the love and spread the word about Project Cool! The Pastor Darla DeFrance at the Church of Hope, where the Project Cool magic happens, posted information to Columbia City groups and a number of people signed up to volunteer!  Do you have an e-list or group that would love to hear about Project Cool? Feel free to loop them into the Project Cool magic!

Best Starts for Kids — We support this proposal as it will help ensure that children are healthy, safe, housed, and ready to learn. Click here to learn more about Best Starts for Kids (factsheet). King County Councilmembers need to vote yes to put the levy, as is, on the November Ballot. They need to hear from you NOW! TAKE ACTION: KC Alliance for Human Services call to action: http://kingcountyalliance.com/mobilize-the-time-is-right-now/

Legislative Special Session #2: The Good/Bad/Ugly/Take — Folks, there is a real possibility of a state government shutdown. Why? Because there’s an important hold out — for a fairer budget that prioritizes housing and basic needs. Here are some call-outs:

  • At least $80 million for HTF, $100 million for affordable housing
  • HB 2263 will allow local communities to raise the funds necessary to help create more affordable homes and maintain valuable mental health services.
  • Restore cuts to families receiving TANF benefits. I urge you to make sure that the final budget restores at least 9% of the 15% cut from TANF grants, and fully funds State Food Assistance.
  • Support our 2-1-1/ WA Telephone Assistance Program / Community Voicemail systems. Please make sure $1M in funding for 2-1-1 is included in the final budget.

Just as we did at the meeting, we encourage you to TAKE ACTION and contact your lawmakers, the Governor, and Sen. Andy Hill to share your support. Use (and spread!) this TAKE ACTION FLYER to send this important message to the folks who impact these last days of the 2nd Special Session the most. (To print: print two to one page by using “printer properties”.)


 

June 18, 2015 Street Drugs 101 + Naloxone + Related Laws Training

Presenter Kris Nyrop teaches a packed room about trends in Street Drugs
Presenter Kris Nyrop teaches us about trends in Street Drugs

Presenters Kris Nyrop (Defenders Association) and Mark Cooke (ACLU) led us through some pretty murky and at times complicated territory. Here are some highlights:

  • The United States leads the world in opiate use. We may just be 5% of the world’s population, but we responsible for over 90% of all opiate consumption.
  • Trends (over time) in drug use are very cyclic, and we’re currently in the midst of an amazingly high period of opiate overdose.
  • There’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all treatment. Drugs don’t effect everyone in the same way, though there are behavioral trends for certain types of drugs.
  • Naloxone (Narcan) will stop an opioid overdose in its tracks for 30-90 minutes, which gives enough time to keep someone breathing and to be transported to the ER. Naloxone is NOT addictive – it only serves one purpose: to stop overdose. It’s literally saving people’s lives and allowing them the option to work towards recovery. To get information, training, policy implementation materials, etc, about Naloxone. visit our locally-based friends and experts at StopOverdose.org. Are you a University District local? Contact Joe Tinsley at the Needle Exchange (joe.tinsley@kingcounty.gov; 206-477-8275)
  • Good Samaritan Law and Naloxone Bill — A person acting in good faith may receive a Naloxone prescription, possess, and administer Naloxone. Anyone who seeks medical assistance for themselves or on someone’s behalf cannot then be arrested for being under the influence of or having small amounts of illegal substances on their person. However, they can be arrested if they have outstanding warrants, or if they have what appears to be (or is) a commercial operation of producing or selling drugs (for example: lots of plastic baggies, scales, substances). There is grey area because neither the Good Samaritan Law or the Naloxone law have yet to come up in a court case; boundaries have not (yet) been tested.

Missed the meeting? Here’s a copy of Kris’s Street Drugs 101 presentation for you to download and share.

An important part of the training was the group discussion of how organizations have integrated – partially or fully – Naloxone into their work place. The range of experience was great, and still many staff said their organizations had yet to tackle Naloxone use/training, or had much to improve upon. For example, one organization said staff were trained but few knew where the Naloxone kit was actually kept.
Questions to bring back to your organization include:

  1. Do we have a Naloxone Policy? If not, let’s set that up!
  2. Are staff regularly trained? If not, let’s set that up!
  3. Can staff possess Naloxone, even if it’s their own personal prescription?
  4. Do all staff, interns, volunteers, program participants know who has Naloxone training? Have we communicated this clearly in other, visible ways (e.g., signs)?
  5. Have we trained all staff, interns, volunteers, program participants on Naloxone use?
  6. Does everyone know where the Naloxone is located? Is there always a person in the room who has access to it throughout hours of operation?
  7. Are the people who have access to Naloxone the people that program participants go to in case of an emergency?
  8. Have we made it clear that Naloxone is accessible at our site? How can we create an environment that says, “You can come to us for help! We’ve got your back.”

 

 

Recap: Coalition’s General Membership Meeting — May 21, 2015

General Membership MeetingYou packed the room at our May 21 General Membership Meeting. Among the friendly faces were folks from Farestart, Sound Mental Health, Community Lunch on Capitol Hill, Harborview, City of Redmond, Housing Development Consortium, Hopelink, 2-1-1, Solid Ground, Seattle Community Law Center, Compass Housing Alliance, ROOTS, Catholic Community Services – Aloha Inn, Jewish Family Services, YearUp, Lake City Taskforce on Homelessness, Real Change, Global to Local, City of Seattle Human Services Department, Seattle Parks Department, resident of Pioneer Square, UW Center for Pediatric Dentistry, 45th Street Youth Clinic (Neighborcare), Low Income Housing Institute, REACH, UW Law School, YWCA Landlord Liaison Project. This broad representation from our member organizations and community as a whole helped facilitate important, timely dialogue with Seattle Human Services Department Director and Deputy Director as well as Acting Parks Superintendent.

Here’s a brief recap . . . 
[Psssst! Don’t miss out in the future — add our General Meeting dates to your calendar.]

I. Discussion with Director Catherine Lester & Deputy Directors Heidi Albritton
Catherine stared by sharing her background, starting at age 4, to help us understand her motivations, perspective, and reasons why she does what she does. She has five over-arching focuses/goals for HSD:

  1. Results. Generate results that are measurable, and that increase equity and decrease disparity. Measures vary, and need to be properly applied (e.g., quality vs performance vs outcome).
  2. Public Stewardship. HSD has had audit findings each year for the last four years. This isn’t good for many reasons, two of which are: 1) calls the question about whether HSD can do the job, and 2) risks money that flows to providers.
  3. Preferred Employer. Create a working environment that is positive and productive. This absolutely includes ensuring that providers have better, positive experiences working with HSD staff.
  4. Innovation.(Let’s continue to honor innovations that already exist.) Spoke specifically towards “regionalism.” While this means different things to different people, Catherine wants to get a clear working definition that places Seattle as a part of a whole, and recognize that many other cities look to Seattle for their next steps. What we do matters to more than just Seattle because Seattle is a Regional City.
  5. Prepare for Future Differently. Capacity gaps both within our provider network and within provider agencies exist and those must be addressed to move forward effectively. Capacity gaps include, but are not limited to: data and evaluation, fiscal, employee.

II. City of Seattle’s Homelessness Investments and HSD plans going forward
[Link to Homelessness Investment Analysis]

  • Aimed to be City of Seattle-specific context setting to benefit Mayor Murray’s understanding of his department. The City of Seattle has ~$40 million annual investment in homelessness programs, and yet we still witness, each year, an uptick of people in need. Here’s what’s on the table to address:
    • Service Models: intervention, prevention
    • Funder issues: “I wish these funders would get their stuff together” is a common, known sentiment among providers.
    • Efficiency in how HSD contracts: 550 contracts with 200 unique organizations is not healthy nor sustainable. Must get a handle on this.
    • Data and Evaluation Capacity: HSD needs to allow organizations to make use of the data they submit, and HSD needs to make visible how data is used
  • Other mentionable points of discussion: 1) evaluate and, when appropriate, scale pilots, and 2) system readiness and capacity, both within HSD system and in our community (of providers)
  • Highlights from open Q&A: Pilot time frame; existing metrics that concern HSD; gaps in provider network; Safe Harbors (tabled this discussion); Outcomes, especially for shelters; coordinated entry systems; Partnership among HSD and providers re: planning; Quality of service – trainings for people from a variety of different backgrounds (i.e. someone with a record might not have the education we typically say is required for a job, but has the experience – provide training in such situations to make sure people’s potentials are being reached & experience is brought in).

III. Being Homeless in Public: Implications of the proposed Seattle Parks Smoking Ban 

  • Facilitation convo w/ remarks from Acting Parks Superintendent Christopher Williams and Susanne Rockwell
  • Overwhelming response regarding impacts of the proposed Seattle Parks smoking ban. In response, Parks will:
    1. Eliminate citation ($27)
    2. Create citizen advisory committee (approx. 5 people), whose purpose is to monitor enforcement data more regularly (e.g., every 90 days)
    3. Create a quasi-appeals process (e.g., “right to dispute”)
    4. Partner with Seattle/King County Public Health to connect folks with education about smoking and cessation programs.
  • Superintendent Williams stressed that the smoking ban will not result in the banning people from parks, which is in line with, and reinforces, changes to Parks policy in 2012. One could, after many warnings and couple with more egregious behaviors, be arrested; however, said person would never be banned from the park. Williams mentioned that he doesn’t think they will see people being arrested after 2 warnings because they will feel peer pressure to not smoke. Also mentioned Parks needs to educate about where people can smoke (sidewalks/public domain).
  • Principle surrounding the ban of smoking is similar to the ban on public consumption of alcohol and amplified sound.
  • Final vote will happen at May 28 Parks Commissioner meeting. Public comment will not be heard at this meeting, but all are welcome to attend (and submit written comment!). This vote is a recommendation to the Mayor to pass or not pass ban – then a letter is sent to the City Clerk and there is a 30 day pause on implementation.
  • Highlights from open Q&A: Exclusions Vape Pens and E-Cigs; Existing 25-foot rule; Discussion of Seattle Police Department enforcement and training; How citations would work; Success in other cities? Boulder, Colorado did this and it’s not going well; If we see a disproportionate effect on people who are homeless and unstable housed, then what’s next to fix?

IV. Good/Bad/Ugly/Take Action Updates: Olympia and (Seattle) Linkage Fee
Legislative Updates . . . Robin Zukoski, Columbia Legal Services

  • There is a different dynamic in Olympia this year, and that’s a good thing. True, we still have much advocacy work to do to build stronger programs over the coming years, and to ensure that the final compromise budget is a stronger one.
  • HEN/ABD – no proposed cuts this year, and that’s a win (even if it doesn’t quite feel that way). However, you need to contact your legislators and Department of Commerce to tell them the importance of HEN and the ways in which it needs to be strengthened in order to serve more people and serve all people better. And be sure to stay tuned because there’s concern that Legislators may try to fund other programs by gutting HEN/ABD. We’ll be sure to alert you as soon as Robin sends us the word to take action.
  • TANF is not faring well, and needs our advocacy to ensure that final budget compromise increases supports for TANF and the families and children who benefit.
  • WTAP/Community Voicemail, 2-1-1 Funding: good advocacy campaigns are in motion. Continue to send Legislators your cards, letters, and love notes about the importance of this program. They simply don’t understand it’s value and that people depend upon it.
  • Homeless Students Stability Act is still in play this special session. Everyone agrees on the concept, but many disagree on the money component. Stay tuned for a TAKE ACTION alert.
  • Housing Trust Fund: $80M is our target number at this point, but it’s not a done deal. Stay tuned for a TAKE ACTION alert.
  • This was a GREAT year for Youth-specific issues. See Coalition’s blog posts about the big wins.

Linkage Fee Updates . . . Kayla Schott-Bresler, Housing Development Consortium

  • Learn more and sign the petition at growingtogetherseattle.org.
    1. “Seattle is growing rapidly. Despite our work towards building a great city, the benefits of major growth and investment are not shared by everyone. We must act soon to keep modest-wage workers and their families from being forced to move away from our vibrant city because housing costs are too high.”
    2. “An affordable housing linkage fee is a tool that can help Seattle remain a place for people of all incomes to prosper in place. A linkage fee is a per square foot fee on new development to mitigate the increased demand for affordable housing caused by that development. It’s time to follow in the footsteps of cities across the country and adopt a strong affordable housing linkage fee program.”

V. Coalition Updates w/ Staff

  • Project Cool 2015- it’s here – get involved to support students who are homeless! For more info, contact Hillary@homelessinfo.org
  • ORCA LIFT – What’s working? What isn’t? What improvements do you recommend? What ideas do you have to get more people signed up? What would make the sign-up process easier? We’re working on all of these issues, and will be submitting the Coalition’s recommendations to Metro and the City of Seattle shortly. Stay tuned!
  • Report back from the 25th Annual Conference on Ending Homelessness – We want to hear from you about your three favorite workshops! Send rebecca@homelessinfo.org your response.

 

Join us next month for our joint General Membership (open meeting) and Case Manager Training (RSVP required). Topic: Street Drugs 101 + Good Samaritan Laws + Naloxone. Mark your calendars – June 18 from 9.00-12.30 a.m. at the E. Cherry YWCA (2820 E. Cherry Street, Seattle, WA 98144).