Veterans, Seniors, and Human Services Levy Renewal and Expansion: Advocacy Needed!

For over a decade, the Veterans, Seniors, and Human Services Levy (formerly known as the Vets and Human Services Levy) has funded critical healthcare, supports, and housing for our neighbors who need them most, along with domestic violence, public health, and other services.

Executive Constantine recently transmitted a strong proposal to King County Council, expanding the levy to be 12 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. Now we need to urge King County Council members to BUILD ON and INCREASE that proposal, and place it on the November 7, 2017 ballot. People like YOU can help make this happen!

Take Liz Werley-Prieto as an example. Liz is the Project Manager of shelter programs at DESC who spoke at the conference on June 1st. Liz eloquently addressed how the importance of funding the levy is born out through the interactions between service providers and those they serve. Read Liz’s testimony then take action using this link and information below

Read Liz’s testimony here from May 31, 2017 at King County Council:

My name is Liz and I work as the Project Manager of DESC’s shelter program, located right across the street. Since January first, the shelter program registered more than 800 homeless clients seeking shelter who had not interacted with DESC’s services before. Almost without exception, the primary need expressed by these individuals was a place to live, and as service providers we have had to set the expectation again and again that getting a home will almost certainly be a long and difficult process, or that it might not happen at all.

Being homeless has an impact on the mental and physical health of a population already disproportionately affected by disabling conditions. For those of us working in social services, the urgency of having funding at or above the level proposed by Dow Constantine for the Veterans, Seniors, and Human Services Levy is born out every day in our interactions with those we serve.

For a much larger proportion of those who live and work in King County, the need for this levy is evident in other ways. The number of people living outside is ever-growing which contributes to the creation of makeshift encampments and leads individuals to meet their needs in ways that are financially and socially costly.

Research published in 2016 found a 44% reduction in days spent hospitalized among housed individuals as compared to the homeless, and an inpatient hospital stay in Washington State costs about $2,900 per day. The levy at hand attempts to serve veterans, older people, and others, such as the homeless, in a way that anticipates their housing and behavioral health needs rather than paying for emergency interventions when they are inevitably required. It does not increase spending on these supports, it has in fact saved $7 million since 2012 by reducing emergency medical and criminal justice involvement.

The $54 per year for the average homeowner that the levy would cost at the proposed level is money that will lead to a higher quality of life for all residents of King County, and most dramatically for individuals impacted by severe mental illness or complicated medical conditions. I urge you to support the levy at least the twelve cents per thousand dollars rate being proposed.

Now we ask that you TAKE ACTION:

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: SAAC June Meeting: VA TriWest Homeless Women Veteran Initiative

Susan Christ joined the Single Adults Advocacy Committee to talk about the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) new program in partnership with TriWest Healthcare Alliance.  This program is a public-private partnership that will connect women Veterans who are homeless or at risk of being homeless with meaningful, stable employment.

Here’s what Susan shared about the program!

In partnership with VA, TriWest Healthcare Alliance identifies employment opportunities by working closely with female Veterans with children to match their interests and skills with employers who value these qualities and recognize that our nation’s Veterans are ideal job candidates. Our benefits advisors will meet any referred veteran in the community or at a partner organization’s facility to obtain necessary referral information and begin services to the veteran.

Through a public/private partnership between the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and TriWest Healthcare Alliance, we can assist female veterans with a variety of services and benefits Services include but are not limited to:

  • Assistance with obtaining military records
  • Connecting eligible veterans with healthcare, housing and compensation or pension benefits
  • Job coaching
  • Placement with partner employers who have committed to supporting the TriWest Homeless Women Veterans Initiative
  • Peer mentor support after job placement to ensure job retention
  • Close coordination with local employers to identify opportunities
  • One-on-one, specialized interaction with female Veterans to assess skills and employment goals
  • Continued services by VA including housing assistance and healthcare

Referral Information:

View the referral form, request for release of information and initiative fact sheet. Susan Christ mentioned that you may not have all of the information requested on the referral form, but it is fine to just fill in what information you do have and make the referral, they can fill in the blanks as they work with the veterans. Also, the release of information form can be obtained from the veteran by our benefits advisors at their first meeting with the veteran, so it is not absolutely necessary that this form is complete when the referral is made. If emailing referrals, please only include the referred individual’s first name and last initial.

 

You can direct emails and referral forms to: veteransemploymentvbaco@va.gov.

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). 

Severe Weather Shelter in King County

Updated Severe Weather Shelter locations around King County can be found below. Please note that other Winter Shelters are also opened nightly and Severe Weather Shelters (listed below) are usually open when the weather is below freezing.  Please visit the Crisis Clinic Resource Talk Shelter page to see the most updated list of Winter Shelters around the county as well as information about Severe Weather Shelters.

This post will be frequently updated with the most recent information. If you know of new or updated information please contact hillary[at]homelessinfo[dot]org. _________________________________________________________________________

SEVERE WEATHER SHELTERS – Updated 1/5/2014

Please share information about severe weather shelters with your clients and the community.  Check back for frequent updates about openings. Information can also be found here. 

SEATTLE: Severe Weather Shelter – Print This Flyer

The emergency shelter serves men and women over the age of 18 and is operated by Salvation Army Staff. The Rainier Room at the Seattle Center is located at 305 Harrison Street just to the north of Key Arena.  This shelter is open access.  Referral forms are NOT required.

AUBURN:

Veteran’s Memorial Park 

Les Gove Overnight Shelter 

  • Location: Les Gove Multipurpose Building: 1024 Deals Way, Auburn, 98002 (between Auburn Senior Activity Center and Auburn Library)
  • Date & Time: Closed
  • Phone: (253) 876 – 1925

KENT: Kent Lutheran Church

FEDERAL WAY: New Hope Christian Fellowship

RENTON: Cold Weather Shelter

  • Location: Renton Harambee Center: 316 South 3rd St, Renton, 98057
  • Date & Time: Closed
  • Phone: 425-430-6600                                                                                                       

Severe Weather Shelters around King County UPDATED

Please share information about severe weather shelters with your clients and the community.  Check back for frequent updates about openings. Information can also be found here. 

SEATTLE Severe Weather Shelter

Location: Seattle Center Rainier Room: 305 Harrison Street (next to Key Arena)Map

Date & Time: Wednesday 11/12 & Thursday 11/13: 8:30pm to 7:00am

 Severe Weather Shelter Seattle Flyer Nov 12 & 13, 2014.

In response to forecasted low temperatures, the City of Seattle is opening Severe Weather Shelter at the Seattle Center Rainier Room on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights, November 11th, 12th, & 13th.   The emergency shelter serves men and women over the age of 18 and is operated by Salvation Army Staff.  The hours of operation are 8:30pm to 7:00am.  The Rainier Room at the Seattle Center is located at 305 Harrison Street just to the north of Key Arena.  This shelter is open access.  Referral forms are NOT required.

AUBURN: Overnight Shelter confirmed open Wed 11/12 & Thurs 11/13

Until power is restored, the following Warming Centers and Shelters will be in place:

  • Overnight Severe Weather Shelter: Les Gove Multipurpose Building: 1024 Deals Way Map (between Auburn Senior Activity Center and Auburn Library)- 8 PM – 7 AM; Phone: (253) 876 – 1925
  • Warming Center: Auburn Senior Center: 808 9th Street SE – 8 AM to 9 PM
  • Warming Center: Auburn City Hall: 25 W Main Street – 8 AM to 6 PM

FEDERAL WAY: New Hope Christian Fellowship

Location: 31411 6th Ave S, Federal Way, WA, 98003 Map
Phone: (253) 269 – 6585                                                                                                  

Date & Time: 4pm-8am, open until further notice

RENTON Cold Weather Shelter

Location: Renton Harambee Center: 316 South 3rd St, Renton, 98057 Map              Phone: 425-430-6600                                                                                                       

Date & Time: Wednesday 11/12: 8:30pm – 8am

Print and share this flyer: Renton Cold Weather Shelter 11.12.2014

The City Renton is partnering with Catholic Community Services to open the Severe Weather Shelter (SWS) at Renton Harambee Center, due to dangerously low temperatures.This Severe Weather Shelter will be open TONIGHT, Wednesday November 12th. 8:30PM – check in and registration, 8AM – shelter closes, all must vacate.  All are welcome. The SWS is available for single women and men, couples, and homeless families with children who are living on the streets or in vehicles; separate sleeping spaces have been prepared for men, women, and for families with children. The SWS will be operated by Catholic Community Services staff and volunteers from the greater Renton community. All must register at the door. As with all shelters, rules for the health and safety of clients, staff and the broader community will apply. For more information please contact the City of Renton, Human Services office at 425-430-6600.