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.

 

We did it: We have a Low Income Metro Fare!

This historic policy win will help tens of thousands of people get on the bus.

When we started organizing for a low income Metro fare back in 2012, as the loss of the Ride Free Area loomeMetro Busd, Alison thought it would take years before  our work came to fruition.  But on Monday, the King County Council voted unanimously to  implement a reduced Metro fare of $1.50* for people living on low incomes.  King County residents all the way up to 200% of the federal poverty line will be eligible - meaning that nearly a quarter of the people in our community will be better able to access the bus. (*This proposal can be made even better if voters turn out to pass Proposition 1 on April 22, when voters can ‘buy down’ the fare to $1.25 as part of a revenue package that will prevent 17% bus service cuts.)

This is a big win! If you filled out a postcard, played our “Metro Mad Libs,” called and e-mailed, or turned out to public meetings, you should be proud.  Together we have moved our region into the forefront of public policy that connects transit to other social and economic goals.

Thank you!

Recap: Coalition’s General Meeting — February 20, 2014

What we wouldn’t give to get a couple of extra days at the end of February. Do you feel the same? It’s a good thing we’ve been posting these abbreviated meeting notes so that you can make the most out of the time you have!

Last week’s General Member Meeting was quite timely, what with the Legislative Session over half-way through and the next phase of Reduced Fare actions taking place. Be sure to catch up if you missed out, or refresh on details if you attended. Here’s what happened at the latest General Member Meeting, held on February 20, 2014.

As a reminder, the General Member Meeting takes place every third Thursday of the month from 9.00 – 11.00 a.m. at the East Cherry YWCA (2820 E. Cherry Street in Seattle). For more information, check our website’s Members’ tab for a link to the ‘Committees & Meetings’ page, or simply follow this link to take you there directly. Our next General Member Meeting is Thursday, March 20, 2014.

__________________

2014 One Night Count Discussion: What did you think? What did you hear? What are the implications for your work? Your community?

  • Many people spoke about their 2014 One Night Count experiences:
    • Some shared that more people were awake and moving around between 2-5 a.m.. One individual noted the dissonance in counting people who are homeless amid high rises and malls. A new Team Captain from this year’s count said she took away an extra dose of compassion and humility. A first-time counter, who was able to count in his home neighborhood, noted how different it was to see people who are homeless at night than during the day, and was also surprised at the wide age range of people who were counted. A first-time Team Captain but returning counter mentioned that this year he saw more tent encampments than in years prior. A first-time Headquarter volunteer shared that student counters came back with a new outlook on their neighborhood after counting at night. In all, everyone shared the meaningfulness of their experience, and its lasting impression.
    • Alison Eisinger, Executive Director of the Coalition, share that this 14% increase change is significant; it’s not “in the noise.” She’s glad to report that many elected officials participated this year; this sort of showing is good for all the work we do after the Count. She encouraged us to talk in our communities about what a 14% increase means both personally and professionally, but reminded us to understand that what’s most powerful is the total number of people reported, and that number represents unmet need (because shelters are full.)

2014 Legislative Session updates w/ special presenter Ben Miksch of Washington Low Income Housing Alliance

NOTE: for more information or current status on the below bills, please check out the rest of our blog and Facebook posts, and be sure to sign up for our e-mail alerts

  • Homeless Housing and Assistance Surcharge (aka Document Recording Fees): Passed the House, and is now in the Senate. Contact your Senator, and ask them to support HB 2368.
  • Fair Tenant Screening Act, Part 3: Passed the House, and is now in the Senate. Contact your Senator, and ask them to support HB 2537
  • Youth Opportunities Act: Passed the House, and is now in the Senate. Contact your Senator, and ask them to support HB 1651.
  • Homeless Children Education Act: One bill started in the house and another started in the Senate. Each bill passed their respective houses and has moved to the other. Contact your legislators and tell them to support HB 2373/SB6074.
  • HED/ABD, and the Housing Trust Fund: This is the first time we haven’t started the session with cuts to HEN. While that’s a great place to start, we can do so much better. Please ask your elected officials to match the average Housing Trust Fund allocations from previous years by investing a total of $18 million this year.
  • Certificate of Restoration of Opportunity (CROP): Unfortunately, CROP did not pass through the House; it will no longer be considered this session. Rest assured, it will be back next session! Contact your legislators throughout the year to let them know the importance of CROP.

Call-in to Olympia: 1-800-562-6000

  • Oh yes, we did! Everyone took out their phones, dialed the number listed above, and dictated to the operator on the other end their simple message in support of the Homeless Housing and Assistance Surcharge.

Update and Action on the Low Income Fare (aka Reduced Metro Fare)

NOTE: for more information or current status on Proposition 1 and the Low Income Fare, please check out the rest of our blog and Facebook posts, and be sure to sign up for our e-mail alerts

  • Please call King County Councilmember Larry Phillips @ 206-477-1004 (toll free: 800-325-6165). Message: We strongly support a reduced fare. We urge the council to “buy down” the fare to no more than $1.25.
  • Update: On Monday, the King County Council voted unanimously to implement a reduced Metro fare of $1.50* for people living on low incomes. King County residents all the way up to 200% of the federal poverty line will be eligible - meaning that nearly a quarter of the people in our community will be better able to access the bus. (*This proposal can be made even better if voters turn out to pass Proposition 1 on April 22, when voters can ‘buy down’ the fare to $1.25 as part of a revenue package that will prevent 17% bus service cuts.) 

Staff Update

  • Alison provided an update and announce the Call for Letters re: Federal Reserve Bank Project. Check out our website to learn more and sign up for alerts!

Save these dates on your calendar:

  • Legislative Session runs January 13 – March 13, 2014
  • Families w/ Children Meeting re: Rapid Rehousing – Wed, Feb 26 from 9.30-11 a.m. @ E. Cherry YWCA
  • Youth and Young Adult Committee Meeting re: DV, and spotlight on TeenFeed programs – Tues, Mar 11 from 10-11.30 a.m. @ Capitol Hill Library
  • Next General Member Meeting – Thursday, March 20 from 9-11 a.m. @ E. Cherry YWCA
  • Keep an eye out for Member Surveys in March!

We look forward to seeing you at the next General Member Meeting on Thursday, March 20, 2014! And be sure to check back here for a Recap following each meeting.