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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Youth Housing Connection: Two dates to celebrate 1 Year for YHC!

Attention Youth and Young Adults Committee members and other interested parties:

Here are two opportunities this month to celebrate one year of great work by the Youth Housing Connection (YHC) and to offer valuable feedback about changes and next steps for their second year.

Wednesday, September 17

10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Tukwila Community Center (12424 42nd Ave S, Seattle, WA 98168)

OR

Wednesday, September 24

1 p.m. – 3 p.m.

2100 Building (2100 24th Ave S, Seattle)

Join the Committee to End Homelessness and the YHC team for YHC at Year One: Learnings and Reorientation to review lessons learned, correct misconceptions, and review opportunities for community feedback and training.This event is open to all stakeholders, community members and service providers, but funders, agency leadership, supervisors and front line staff are especially encouraged to attend. We hope you will be able to make it!

Recap: Coalition’s General Membership Meeting — August 21, 2014

F.A.S.T. -- Stroke SignsAt last week’s General Membership meeting, Heather Barr (aka Everyone’s Favorite Public Health Nurse) with Health Care for the Homeless led us in a presentation and training to quickly, safely, and calmly recognize and respond to health emergencies at work. With lots of information and a relatively brief amount of time to share it, she graciously provided her PowerPoint (with links to videos!) to us for distribution. 

Heather also gave us an easy and helpful homework assignment: watch these 5 videos related to responding to common medical emergencies. Each will reinforce what we learned and also help you to visually identify different types of emergencies. And here they are:

Here’s the link to download her entire presentation: Medical Emergency Recognizing and Responding to Medical Emergencies in Settings.

Join us next month for a special Coalition discussion of the Seattle Housing Authority’s rent change proposal at the General Membership Meeting. Mark your calendars – September 18 from 9-11 a.m. at the E. Cherry YWCA (2820 E. Cherry Street, Seattle, WA 98144).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Greetings Making Change at Walmart Community Partners, 

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

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

It’s time to strike! ARE YOU WITH US?

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

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

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

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

Single Adults Advocacy Committee: Long-term Shelter Stayers

The most recent Single Adults Advocacy Committee meeting on Thursday, May 8 was focused on long-term shelter stayers and how Case Managers can best assist those who seem to be stuck in shelters to get into housing. Here’s a link to the CEH Progress Report: LTSS. And here’s an brief infographic that summarizes St. Martin de Porres’ efforts:

Long Term Shelter Stayers @ St. Martin de Porres

For more information, or if you have any questions, please contact the Single Adults Advocacy Committee Co-chairs, Katie Bilek (CCS) and Mercedes Elizalde (LIHI), at saac@homelessinfo.org. 

Progress: Winter Shelters extended in Bellevue & Seattle!

Many good people and organizations have worked very hard to add or extend safe overnight shelter.  Special appreciation to the staff at the City of Seattle Human Services Department; the King County Community Services Division; the Bellevue Human Services Department; and providers and advocates at the YWCA, The Salvation Army, Congregations for the Homeless; The Sophia Way; and WHEEL.

  • The King County-funded Winter Shelter (50 men) located at the King County Administration Building will be extended through June 30, 2014, with extended hours beginning on April 16th.
  • The Winter Shelter located at the YWCA Angeline’s (40-45 women) will stay open every night in 2014. The shelter will now serve women nightly through the spring and summer.
  • Winter shelters on the Eastside have been extended, through a combination of private contributions, support from the United Way and the Crisis Response of the Committee to End Homelessness, and help from the city of Bellevue.
  • The WHEEL Women’s shelter, currently hosted at Plymouth Congregational Church in Seattle, has been invited to stay through April 18. WHEEL is working to secure funding to find a new location for spring, summer, and fall, and expects to keep shelter open nightly during this process.
  • Please click here to send a thank you e-mail to King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray for extending winter shelter past the April close date, providing 40-45 women and 50 men each night with safe places to find rest.

And – remember how we added funds for emergency shelter for families with children during the Seattle budget process last fall?  Following a fast RFP, the staff at Mary’s Place is preparing to shelter up to 80 people (25-30 families) at a new shelter ~ doors will be open by May 1, if not before.

$15 Minimum Wage – A Shared Commitment

Last November, voters in SeaTac approved increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour, making national news and inspiring vigorous public conversations about wages, affordability, and income inequality in coffee shops and town halls, on buses, and around water coolers across our region.   Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant have been working hard on this issue, and the Mayor’s Income Inequality Advisory Committee is scheduled to release recommendations at the end of April.  The Coalition on Homelessness has been a part of the conversation about the opportunities and complexities of raising the minimum wage as a member of the Seattle Human Services Coalition (SHSC), a coalition of direct service providers and advocacy groups (see background materials below).  We’ll be taking up this conversation at our April 17 General Membership meeting with Tony Lee, from Poverty Action, and other special guests.  Please join us to discuss the practical, political, and policy issues related to raising the minimum wage for all workers, including human services and housing providers. As usual, we meet on the third Thursday from 9-11 a.m. at the E. Cherry St. YWCA (2820 E. Cherry St.) in Seattle.

Background:

In late March, SHSC, together with Working Washington, SEIU 925, and Kids First Seattle issued a joint press release affirming their clear commitment to a $15 minimum wage because it “lifts workers out of poverty, boosts the economy, and strengthens people’s abilities to meet their basic human needs.” These labor and human services groups noted:

“The current citywide conversation about income inequality and the minimum wage should not be used to pit one low income group against another, because we know that those who work in poverty-wage jobs and those who receive human services can be the very same people. Thousands of low-wage workers can’t feed themselves without help from food banks, and can’t possibly afford early childhood education for their children without public support. And at $9.32 an hour, a housing crisis is never more than a paycheck away.”

The Seattle Human Services Coalition laid out five key points in an  “Issues Advisory on $15 Minimum Wage and Impact for Human Services.” Here is an excerpt from the Executive Summary:

The Seattle Human Services Coalition recognizes the importance of a livable minimum wage in addressing poverty in our community. SHSC fully supports raising the minimum wage for all human services workers (and others) to $15/hr.

We are also acutely aware that this call for raising the minimum wage must be done in such a way that does not result in a decrease in urgently needed services; any solution must take into account the impact on the vulnerable people we serve.

We call upon elected leaders and other stakeholders to take all five of these actions:

      • Include non-profit human service employees in any recommended increases to the minimum wage.
      • Ensure that wage standards and city contract requirements do not lead to a reduction of needed human services.
      • Increase local investments in pay equity, including human services employees.
      • Move the discussion beyond an hourly wage to examine the broader issue of income inequality in our region.
      • Set a base wage that does not include other forms of compensation.