My name is Maggie Malone, current summer intern at the Coalition on Homelessness, primarily working with Project Cool. I am extremely excited to be a part of the team and hope I can use the knowledge I gain through this experience to better support and advocate for people who are homeless in King County.
I am currently entering my Sophomore year at Gonzaga University, where I intend to earn a bachelors degree in Human Physiology. I like music, travelling, hanging out with friends, running, and playing with my dog. I am originally from Seattle and it is very important to me that I take care of my home.
I first heard of the Coalition through a family friend who volunteers for Project Cool each year with his coworkers. Project Cool especially sparked my interest because I saw it as a hands-on opportunity to give homeless students the preparedness and confidence to be able to get an education, which I wanted to be a part of. There is so much more to Project Cool than filling up backpacks. The form of advocacy that Project Cool exhibits, allows education to flourish and expands the horizon of support systems. I wanted to join the Coalition because it provides the chance to support a vulnerable population and enlighten others on how they can participate.
This summer, I will be coordinating Project Cool donation drop-off/pick-up sites, managing volunteer events, and providing general support for the Coalition’s database, website, social media, and fundraisers.
If you would like to get involved with Project Cool, here is what you can do:
Register to volunteer. Backpack filling days are July 14-21.
Host a school supply drive or fundraiser. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for tips and suggestions, or take a look at our 2017 Wish List
These are Katherine’s reflections on Project Cool 2016:
Last Wednesday, a volunteer placed the final Project Cool backpack into a case manager’s van and I began to reflect on this year’s Project Cool Volunteer Days. As we transition to the next phase of Project Cool, I am able to appreciate Project’s Cool full year cycle and the breadth of people and communities the program touches. We have enjoyed each Project Cool volunteer day, and I feel lucky to have organized, packed and inventoried supplies alongside such fantastic volunteers! As we look forward to the next few months and connecting to community members through supply drives (want to host one where you work or play? Contact Hillary – hillary[at]homelessinfo[dot]org), we know that 1,417 colorful backpacks will enter the first days of school swung over the shoulders of students ranging from Pre-K to 12th grade.
Having only joined the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness a few weeks ago, I entered my first volunteer day with enthusiasm, excitement, and a bit of nervous anticipation of the amount of work to be accomplished in just a week. I could not wait to see the weeks of donation and volunteer coordination I had supported, as well as the year-long effort Hillary and Julia contributed to Project Cool, come to bloom! My expectations were surpassed and my qualms eased by the awesome volunteers that arrived with enthusiasm for each shift.
I feel hopeful for the future of the children that Project Cool serves after discussing many volunteers’ commitment to ending homelessness. Over the past week I learned more fully how raising a child can require mobilization from an entire community. Participants demonstrated how volunteering quickly builds community amongst initial strangers. Participants bonded over their passion for service to form productive, fun work teams. For many of these supporters, Project Cool has become a cherished tradition. Some volunteers even shared their experiences supporting Project Cool for up to 9 years (thank you, Hunskor family!).
Project Cool volunteers illuminated many reasons that can inspire someone to donate their time and resources. A few volunteers shared their own backgrounds experiencing homelessness and understood firsthand the difference a Project Cool backpack can make. One mother shared with volunteers that her own children had received free school supplies while growing up and so she wanted to support other parents preparing their children for the school year.
Between rulers and notebooks, dental kits and crayons, inspiration and hope was also packed into each Project Cool backpack, and you can help fill bags for next summer’s Project Cool Days starting today! Here are five easy ways to get involved throughout the year, starting this summer and fall:
Host a supply drive: Organizing supply drives are fun and have lots of room for creativity! You know your community best and how to most effectively to elicit donations — whether it is placing a box at your local community center or going door to door. Here is a helpful brochure on what to donate: Project Cool Supply Drive Flyer (with Wish List).
Donate to Project Cool:
Monetary donations are important and appreciated! All contributions make a significant difference in packing backpacks with the best quality school and dental supplies for students experiencing homelessness. You can donate today on our secure website and dedicate your donation to the work of Project Cool.
Ask your dentist for dental donations:
Heading to the dentist before the school year starts? Consider bringing in this Dentist Letter that asks for toothpaste, toothbrushes and floss donations.
‘Like’ Project Cool on Facebook to stay updated on Project Cool throughout the year, and invite friends and family to do the same. The more people that are connected to our social media, the easier it is to spread the word about awesome Coalition happenings!
Volunteer next summer: This year’s Project Cool Volunteer Days are coming to a close but consider volunteering next summer! Stay tuned about when volunteer signups are available by receiving our Friends of Project Cool e-mails.
What’s next for the Coalition’s work in supporting homeless students? As part of our year-round advocacy, we host an annual Helping Homeless Students training for case managers, school employees, advocates, and community members to learn about homeless students’ educational rights. This training is coming up on Wednesday, August 24 at 9 a.m. at Highline High School. Registration is required, so sign up today.
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:
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.
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
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.
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 email@example.com.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.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!
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 receivingTANFbenefits. 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
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 (email@example.com; 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.
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:
Do we have a Naloxone Policy? If not, let’s set that up!
Are staff regularly trained? If not, let’s set that up!
Can staff possess Naloxone, even if it’s their own personal prescription?
Do all staff, interns, volunteers, program participants know who has Naloxone training? Have we communicated this clearly in other, visible ways (e.g., signs)?
Have we trained all staff, interns, volunteers, program participants on Naloxone use?
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?
Are the people who have access to Naloxone the people that program participants go to in case of an emergency?
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.”
You 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.
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:
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Eliminate citation ($27)
Create citizen advisory committee (approx. 5 people), whose purpose is to monitor enforcement data more regularly (e.g., every 90 days)
Create a quasi-appeals process (e.g., “right to dispute”)
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.
“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.”
“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 firstname.lastname@example.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).
This is an exciting time of year: flowers are blooming, days are longer, and Project Cool for Back-to-School is in full swing!!!
I have been waiting for Project Cool since I joined the Coalition back in September and am so excited it is finally here. The work to make sure that students start off the school year with a new backpack and school supplies, just like their peers, is very important and further enhanced by the Understanding Homeless Students’ Educational Rights guide that each student receives.
I know that Project Cool would not be possible without the support, work, and some sweat while stuffing backpacks of our awesome Coalition supporters and volunteers and I’m looking forward to working with you this year. Ready to get involved? see how below!
Ready… Set… Go! Here are 5 ways you can get involved:
Dental Donations. We need your help to reach out to Dentists for floss, toothbrush, and toothpaste donations. Do you have an upcoming dentist appointment, or is there a nearby dentist office in your community? Use our Dentist Letter to ask your personal or local dentist to donate supplies to Project Cool.
Thank You Students from Concordia University’s Alternative Break Leadership Experiences for an awesome day of service!
After a week of service work at Union Gospel Mission, Urban Rest Stop, and Operation Nightwatch, a group of six students and two leaders focusing on serving and and learning about homelessness, hunger, and youth poverty came to the Church of Hope to help sort donated supplies for Project Cool. They worked with determination and we shared in conversation about their time in Seattle and what they had been learning. Our new friends not only sorted and counted supplies, but also assembled new shelves! If any of you have volunteered with Project Cool in the Church of Hope and seen our supply closet, you may know that it was definitely in need of shelves to help store donations. Look how organized the space is now! It brought smiles to Staff’s faces to see items neatly sorted.
This group of students is really special, they are going to make a difference in the world and I am fortunate we had the opportunity to work together and learn from one another. When 1pm rolled around, our end time, the group was full into bundling and counting pencils and I said they could be done; they responded, “no”! With determination they sorted every last pencil, a great example of knowing that their time can make a positive difference. Thank you. I will leave you with a few inspiring quotes that group members wrote on advocacy postcards after their hard (and extended) day’s work.
I hope to see you at volunteer days this July!
“My team and I from Concordia University have had the opportunity to spend the past week working with low income students and see that they have a huge need in so many areas that any assistance would be a huge gain.”
“I had the wonderful opportunity to help sort items with project cool. The homeless do matter!!”
“Every child deserves education and the resources they need to succeed All people matter. We have to help each individual to transform our society into a better community”
Katara Jordan of Columbia Legal Services shared the following message with supporters of the Homeless Student Stability Act (HB 1682), which is alive and well (currently scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Early Learning & K-12 Education at 8am, Thursday, March 19). She especially wanted to thank Coalition members for their great support, calls, and postcard signing which was critical to keeping this bill alive and moving.
Keep calling in and letting your legislators know that our state needs better support for students experiencing homelessness and this is possible with the Homeless Student Stability Act! Visit our bill tracker for most up to date info.
Friday, February 27 was critical in the fight to increase state support for homeless students. That morning, it appeared that the Homeless Student Stability Act would not receive a hearing in either the House or Senate budget committees. The 27th was the last day for bills to pass out of state fiscal committees. And generally bills must receive a public hearing before they are allowed to do so.
Your effort calling your Representatives helped us secure a public hearing in Appropriations on the Homeless Student Stability Act —a necessary step to increase state support for homeless students. You were genuinely instrumental in securing a hearing for this bill! THANK YOU!
We have even more exciting to news to share! On March 6, the House overwhelmingly passed HB 1682 (the Homeless Student Stability Act) in a vote of 82-16! Representatives Fey, Stambaugh, and Magendanz all gave great speeches on the importance of supporting homeless students and their families!
This bill would provide increased in-school support for homeless students as well as create new housing partnerships between school districts and community organizations. With this bill, we could not just shelter hundreds of families and children across the state – we could house them. The bill also requires, for the first time, that school districts across the state begin to identify unaccompanied homeless youth. While schools are already encouraged to do so, many simply report “0” unaccompanied homeless students. Columbia Legal Services, a non-profit legal organization backing the Homeless Student Stability Act, estimates that there are approximately 4,400 unaccompanied youth in our schools, more than 2,000 more than are actually identified.
Simply call 1-800-562-6000 and leave this message for the operator:
“The Homeless Student Stability Act will result in short and long term savings, as well as better educational, health, and life outcomes for students and their families. Please support this important issue.”
After you leave a message for your legislators, if you really want to go the extra advocacy mile, you can also directly call members of the Senate Committee on Early Learning and K-12 Education to give them the same message. The Senators labeled with two asterisks after their phone number are the most critical.
Senator Steve Litzow (360-786-7641)**
Senator Andy Hill (360-786-7672)**
Senator Bruce Dammeier (360 786-7648)**
Senator Rosemary McAuliffe (360- 786-7600)
Senator Andy Billig (360-786-7604)
Senator Joe Fain (360-786-7692)
Senator Mark Mullet (360-786-7608)
Senator Ann Rivers (360-786-7634)
Senator Christine Rolfes (360-786-7644) Senator Rolfes has been a huge champion. Please consider thanking her for her support
Katara Jordan, Staff Attorney, Columbia Legal Services, Children & Youth Project
And it’s a wrap (but not really). The 2015 Regular Legislative Session ended on Friday 4/24, but the House and Senate have yet to agree upon a budget, so a special session will start on Wednesday, 4/29.
We are happy that Extended Foster Care, the YEAR Act, the Homeless Youth Act, and the King County Bonding for Affordable Housing all passed! Unfortunately a number of our bills did not pass, as happens each session since only a limited number of bills can even be brought to vote. These bills will be re-worked in the break until the 2016 legislative session and be reborn and hopefully pass in 2016. Your phone calls, postcard signing, and advocacy have been significant and continue to be vital moving forward in the Budget process.
Budgets from the House and Senate were both released in mid-April. See below for more details. The House and Senate will have to work together to agree upon a balanced budget. We are glad the House and the Governor both provided for revenue in their budgets, however the Senate did not. We encourage you to ask your legislators to “Please ensure the final budget raises new revenue and invests at least $110 million in affordable housing.”
Take 5: call the Legislative Hotline to leave a message for your representatives and let them know what bills you support and also urge them to invest $100 Million in the Housing Trust Fund. These bills and budget asks are crucial to helping people experiencing homelessness in our community. Hotline Number: 1-800-562-6000 – real (and kind) people answer the phone! Hotline Hours: Monday-Friday 8am-8pm
Here are some budget ask messages from the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance to use while making your weekly call to your two representatives and senator in Olympia:
Please ensure the final budgets passed by the legislature match the House’s proposed operating and capital budgets.
Please ensure the final budget raises new revenue and invests at least $110 million in affordable housing.
Please also fund the Medicaid permanent supportive housing services benefit.
And thank you for protecting vital safety net programs like HEN, ABD, and SSI Facilitation.
KEY LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES updated 4/28/2015:
Please use this table to see the progress of bills that are part of our Legislative Priorities throughout the 2015 Legislative Session. For further information about bills and links to one-pagers please scroll below the table. Note that many bills are in both the Senate (SB) and House (HB) and therefore have their own rows in the table. Feel free to sort!
PROTECT Crucial Programs & Prevent Homelessness for disabled and elderly Washingtonians: Maintain Housing & Essential Needs (HEN), Aged, Blind, & Disabled (ABD) and SSI Facilitation at current funding levels. Seniors and people with disabilities must be able to meet their basic needs and access recovery resources.
In all three budgets (Governor, House, Senate), HEN/ABD/SSI Facilitation funding was maintained – not cut, but also not increased.
Washington’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) system provides struggling families with children a modest cash grant to help meet their basic needs, such as housing, clothing, and health items. Many in our communities rely on this vital program to put food on their tables and provide for their children.
During the 2011 Legislative Session, the TANF cash grant was reduced by 15%. It is high time to take action and RESTORE the 15% cut from 2011. This will increase the grant for a family of 3 from $478 to $562, providing critical resources to our poorest families.
Legislators must include new revenue, not more cuts, in the budget! Over the past four years, the legislature has cut over $10.5 billion, but has increased revenue by less than $1 billion. As the state House & Senate work to balance the budget for the next two years, programs and services that support the most vulnerable members of our communities are again on the chopping block. Since the Great Recession hit in 2008, we have cut more services than at any time in our state’s history. These cuts damage our state’s ability to create jobs and recover from the recession, and they balance the budget on the backs of people who already struggle the most.
Governor’s Budget:Raises about $1.4 billion in new revenues. His cap & trade plan allocates money to the Housing Trust Fund.
Senate Budget:Does not raise new revenue. Rather the budget achieves savings from cuts to programs, cuts to state worker compensation, LEAN management savings, and Commerce & DSHS departments, etc. Commerce is subject to cuts, although not necessarily to the department that oversees our programs.
With a Medicaid Supportive Housing Services Benefit, supportive housing providers could bill Medicaid for supportive services provided to eligible residents. This would allow more chronically homeless people to access services, improve the integration of behavioral and health care, and would help individuals with severe and chronic health issues stay off the street and live in a healthy home.
Governor’s Budget: Not funded
House Budget: $100,000 for Department of Social and Health Services staff costs to implement waiver
The Homeless Student Stability Act passed out of the House, but did not pass in the Senate. However, the House budget gave $2 million of funding to implement the act. Call on your Senators to change their budget to include funding for HSSA!
House Budget: $2 million for Homeless Student Stability Act
Pass theHomeless Youth Act(HB 1436 / SB 5404). Successfully addressing youth homelessness ensures that homeless youth and young adults in our state have the support they need to thrive and avoid more costly outcomes in the criminal justice system, human trafficking, long-term dependence on public benefits, or chronic adult homelessness.
This bill will clarify language for existing legislation from 2011 that authorized King County to use a portion of lodging tax revenues to develop housing for working families. Clarified language will cause building to begin much sooner than 2021 (when legislation currently says funds will be available).
Finding a new home or place to rent is hard and usually people apply for more than one place. Currently the average renter will have to pay for three or more tenant screening reports during this process. The Fair Tenant Screening Act would create the a portable tenant screening report process where a renter could buy (one time) a standard online tenant screening report and provide access to the report to multiple landlords.Pass the Fair Tenant Screening Act to make the tenant screening process more affordable and fair for both tenants and landlords.
Currently, a tenant can be caught in a landlord’s foreclosure, win an appeal, be wrongfully named, settle to the landlord’s satisfaction, or not be evicted. Despite this, their names still appear with an eviction on their report, which usually results in landlords being reluctant to take them as tenants. Tenant screening reports should only name evictions when the tenant has actually been evicted.
This legislation would prohibit discrimination in housing based on participation in government assistance programs. Many rental ads now list “not accepting Section 8,” referring to those receiving assistance with their rent. These tenants should be subject to screening checks just like any other tenant, but Section 8 status alone is no reason to prevent a prospective tenant from even applying.
SUPPORT Homeless Students: Pass the Homeless Student Stability Act
Invests in stability for homeless students using a two-pronged approach: 1) provides funding for school districts to serve homeless students. School funding is designed to match the federal dollars received under McKinney-Vento; 2) creates a grant program serving up to 15 school districts interested in creating school-housing partnerships that will directly increase housing stability for homeless students and families. Funds can be used for housing vouchers, rapid rehousing, host homes, or other programs based on local need and community preference. Partnerships will be data-driven and targeted to improve stability and academic performance of homeless students.
SB 5065(Frockt) Status: DEAD HB 1682(Fey) Status: DEAD – however $2 million funded in house budget
Join us to advance our shared mission: ensuring safety and survival for people who are homeless, and working collaboratively to end the crisis of homelessness in our region.
Project Cool for Back-to School 2014 helped 1,373 homeless students start the school year right with new backpacks, school supplies, and dental kits. We’re preparing for Project Cool 2015, and continuing to move beyond the backpacks, connecting advocacy with service!
We organized and mobilized over 1,100 people and dozens of organizational partners to carry out the 2015 One Night Count of people who are homeless outside. We documented 3,772 people outside overnight ~ a shocking but not surprising increase of 21% over last year. Within a week we brought the results to Olympia with our Ring out for Revenue and Roofs action. We ensure that these results inform and inspire action year-round.
Our two years of advocacy for a low income Metro fare paid off: the OrcaLIFT program launched March 1, 2015! OrcaLIFT is the broadest, deepest public transit access program in the U.S., allowing people earning up to 200% of FPL to ride for half-price. Six Coalition member agencies are helping sign up riders! Visit www.orcalift.com for eligibility and location information.
Four times a month, our General Membership and Population Committee meetings serve as lively and collegial forums for Coalition members to talk through timely issues and common problems and collaborate to find practical solutions.
Our workshops on Helping Homeless Students: McKinney-Vento 101 and Beyond the One Night Count provided over 200 people with tools to be strong, informed advocates, providers, and community members.
We are thankful for the continued support of our member organizations and advocates! Member organizations’ active staff involvement and dues make this Coalition one of the strongest advocacy voices in the region. Our networking, peer learning, leadership development, advocacy, and education are possible thanks to your support! Together, the Coalition will continue our exciting and important work throughout 2015.
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.
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.
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
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