2019 April 18 Membership Meeting Summary and CEA conversation materials

Emailing legislators asking them to #BudgetForHousing

Thank you to sixty-three people who joined us on April 18 for our lively meeting, including a walk through the Coordinated Entry For All process and the opportunity to give feedback on what is and isn’t working about Interim Dynamic Prioritization. Coalition staff were pleased to share news that we are hiring for our new Administrative Coordinator position, and invite people to participate in Project Cool (for information about getting backpacks for students who are experiencing homelessness, email Hillary). We sent Hallie, our Member Services Coordinator, off to her new job in Olympia with hearty thanks and well wishes. And, you got LOUD for Housing by contacting your lawmakers in Olympia asking them to #BudgetForHousing! We know that about 40 people used the email action alert during the meeting, and others made calls – thank you!

Materials/Handouts from meeting:

Coordinated Entry for All (CEA) Deep Dive

Joanna Bomba-Grebb from Coordinated Entry For All prepared a chart of how the CEA process, from assessment to housing, currently works. Thanks to staff from member agencies, including Solid Ground and DESC, for attending the meeting to share their perspectives about how each piece of the process actually works day to day on the ground. Our discussion on the process and continuous improvement was still continuing when the meeting ended at 11, so we decided that we will set aside some time at our Thursday, June 20 Membership meeting (9 am -11 am at Southside Commons in Columbia City) to continue the dialogue and allow more time for questions and suggestions, as well as to hear follow up from the critiques articulated by service providers serving single adults and youth and young adults (links to  these letters to All Home Coordinating Board about CEA below). Some highlights from our conversation: 

  • Coalition members asked questions about Diversion, and Joanna clarified that someone is eligible for Diversion if they are literally homeless (staying in a shelter, outside place not meant for human habitation) or fleeing or attempting to flee domestic violence without a safe housing option, or a youth with two weeks or less before they need to leave their current residence.
  • People who are currently housed but at risk for losing that housing should access prevention resources. Prevention resources can be accessed by calling 211, and not by going to a Regional Access Point or talking to a housing assessor.
  • Staff at social service organizations who wish to have access to centralized Diversion funds available through Africatown International must take a Diversion training – more information and registration can be found online: http://allhomekc.org/diversion/#training.
  • Questions about Diversion should be directed to Zachary DeWolf at All Home.
  • Questions about Prevention should be directed to Kimberly Dodds at King County.

Questions from the meeting related to CEA:

  • Transitional Housing: Concerns were raised about families leaving Transitional Housing not having anywhere to go and not being eligible for Diversion funds to help with move-in assistance. Joanna answered that if a family enters a Transitional Housing Program and it becomes clear they will not be able to successfully move into market rate housing, the staff should request a mobility transfer to Permanent Supportive Housing if that level of support is appropriate – more information about mobility transfers is available here. If you have questions about mobility transfers, email CEA.
    • Note: Discussion at our meeting highlighted the fact that many families in Transitional Housing Programs have nowhere to transition to due to the lack of affordable housing, but are not necessarily in need of permanent supportive housing. This discussion highlighted the possibility that it is necessary for move-in or diversion-like funds to be available for families leaving Transitional Housing.
  • Safe Havens were brought up as a possible housing resources for some individuals. Safe Havens in our Continuum of Care are Harbor House with Community Psychiatric Center and Kerner Scott with DESC.

CEA Updates: Joanna let us know that these developments are currently in development at CEA and will be in use soon:

  • An Acuity Review Team (ART) will soon be convening to look at assessments that have been flagged as inaccurate. Individualized Resource Tools will be in use beginning this summer.
    • Description from Joanna: It is still being stood up and is being comprised of Behavioral and Medical health professionals helping to review the vulnerability of households that are flagged as not having their vulnerability reflected accurately through the Housing Triage Tools completed. That group will be looking at all other information available. More information on that function will be added to the CEA website as it is established and available!
  • Individualized Resource Tools are being developed.
    • Explanation from Joanna: The best place to get a sense for what is being developed with the CE Access and Engagement workgroup is slide 24 of these “Dynamic Prioritization” slides from HUD. We are using an Equity Impact Review model process (see example here) to build, test and launch the Individualized Resource Tool with an eye to ongoing learning/continuous improvement. More information on that function will be added to the CEA website as it is established and available!

Feedback from Coalition members about CEA:

  • The name Coordinated Entry For All implies this is something everyone should access, but since  now most people are being served through Diversion it is misleading.
    • Note from Joanna: Diversion is being stood up system-wide across our community and is very much part of the overall coordinated entry system that exists and is expanding. The launch of the Individualized Resource Tool will help to connect the system components. Again, see the Dynamic Prioritization presentation from HUD.
  • Since Interim Dynamic Prioritization, it has been challenging for Rapid Re-Housing programs to receive referrals. This seems to involve the following elements:
    • Because there is no longer banding, and because Interim Dynamic Prioritization is working to identify the most vulnerable families in our community, CEA is now referring very vulnerable families to all housing options and not just Permanent Supportive Housing. Staff may have difficulty following up with families who are highly vulnerable, and/or families may determine that alternatives such as Rapid Rehousing are not good options for them. Who is assessing the implications of this approach? There also may be difficulty in contacting families that are this vulnerable because they do not have working phones or have difficulty making appointments.
    • This continues to be elevated to funders of RRH as RRH resources in the continuum have been difficult to refer to through the Case Conferencing method.
  • Concern that some community-based assessors are not experienced enough at working with high-needs or special populations. There is a need for more assessors to be based at community organizations, so they  know the clients they are working with, or for outside assessors to be highly trained social workers who have experience working with this population.
  • One experienced staff member at a family service provider remarked that although she is very familiar with CEA, and tracks the multiple changes, it was clear how many people at this meeting were hearing information for the first time. She suggested that CEA provide monthly two-hour orientations on CEA for new staff as well as to provide updates on ongoing developments.
  • Multiple people voiced concerns that the VI-SDPDAT tool does not accurately reflect client vulnerability and creates racial disparities. This eventually lead to Interim Dynamic Prioritization, which has helped to address this issue, but concerns remain, since VI-SPDAT is still a large part of the scoring. Youth service providers and adult service providers each wrote letters to the All Home Coordinating Board requesting specific actions to address this important structural problem. You can read the letters here:

Legislative Session Updates shared at 4/18 meeting

Here’s a summary of some of our top priorities that have passed or need attention! As of 4/25 we still need people to speak up and take action with this link: http://bit.ly/budgetforhousing

  • HB 1406/Robinson – allows local communities to retain a portion of the state’s sales tax to invest directly into affordable homes (this is not a new tax, but allowing local jurisdictions to keep some) – This bill/priority is alive, but needs our support! It needs to be funded in the Senate budget.
  • SB 5600/Kuderer (companion to HB 1453/Macri) – reforms evictions & gives tenants more time to pay late rent (from current 3 days to 14 days) – Passed both the House & the Senate! Needs concurrence (back in the Senate to make sure that they agree with amendments the House made), then to the Governor’s office. 
    • Update 4/25 – this has been concurred and will soon be to the Governor’s office!
  • HB 1440/Robinson – Requires 60 day notice of rent increase (currently 30), and no increase of rent during a lease – Passed both the House & Senate and will be signed by the Governor next Tuesday! 
  • HB 1603/Senn – reverses harsh sanctions and time limit policies on TANF. Most notably, it eliminated DSHS’s ability to permanently disqualify families from TANF for repeated noncompliance sanctions, and adds a new time limit extension for homeless families (including those in transitional and supportive housing). 
    • Action: Use this link to thank lawmakers for their efforts in supporting families on TANF
  • Voting bills:
    • SB 5207/Dhingra – requires DOC to notify anybody being released of their right to restore their vote! Signed into law by the Governor and goes into effect 7/28/2019. We’ll share more updates at our May meeting and Voter Registration trainings. 
    • SB 5063/Nguyen – pre-paid postage for all election ballots. Passed in the House & Senate, will soon go to the Governor. 
    • SB 5079/McCoy – Native American Voting Rights Action. Signed into law by the Governor!
  • Budget Items: 
    • Housing Trust Fund – funded at $175M in Senate, just $150M in House. 
    • HEN – funded at $15M in Senate, just $12.7M in House. 
    • $69 million needed to fund HB 1406
    • Action: Email your lawmakers asking them to use the Senate allocations and maximize funding for affordable housing and HEN, as well as support progressive revenue. 

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:

Autistic Insights from the Justice Leadership Program

I have been working as an intern at the Coalition as part of the Justice Leadership Program (JLP) since September. My other work in the program is to support the social justice outreach of the congregation of Prospect United Church of Christ. In the past 9 months in that role I’ve been to many church meetings, organized forums on nonpartisan ballot initiatives and homelessness, discussed morality with my representatives in Washington DC during Ecumenical Advocacy Days, and most recently – gave a sermon about existing authentically in church and society as an autistic agnostic queer human.

I preface every conversation I have about the program by explaining that I did not join the program because of the church aspect of it – the intentional community aspect and the opportunity to work for an organization like the Coalition are what appealed to me initially. The pulpit was not where I expected to be but I’m glad that I had the opportunity to talk to my congregation about some aspects of the autistic experience.

My supervisors here at the Coalition asked me to highlight a few key points from my sermon that pertain most to the people involved in our work. Early on in my sermon I defined autism, I specifically defined it in terms of differences instead of deficits because autism isn’t an inherently bad thing

Autism is a developmental disability in which our brains develop differently than those of the 98% of people who aren’t on the spectrum. The different ways the autistic brain develops affects our language and communication, cognition, sensory processing, motor control, and social behaviors. 

I went on to explain that autism is disabling because our society is not designed to work for autistic peopleA lot of our problems come from the ostracization that happens when we fail to intuitively grasp and follow the unwritten social rules of our society. Our marginalization is a major contributing factor to some worrying statistics:

  • My life expectancy is 16 years shorter than that of my non-autistic peers. If I had an intellectual disability it would be 30 years shorter.
  • The leading cause of death for autistic people like me, who don’t have intellectual disabilities, is suicide – we attempt suicide at a rate 28 x that of our nonautistic peers.

When I read the studies behind those statistics I wasn’t surprised. I have a lot of friends who are also on the spectrum and all of us have chronic health problems that are influenced by stress, all of us have depression, all of us have attempted suicide at least once. It’s obvious from my lived experiences and stories that I’ve heard from others that these problems are an effect of the common view of autism/autistic traits – which is that this is the wrong way to exist. Near the end of my sermon I explain that:

It is assumed that we are broken for not communicating the way that you do and that our goal in life should be to become more like you. Autistic people like me who can pass as nonautistic are constantly working to adapt to your social expectations. I am nearly constantly evaluating my body language and behaviors in relation to the rules I have in place for social interaction in different situations. 22 years of experience has taught me that if I deviate too far from the norm people will assume I’m unintelligent, my ideas won’t be taken seriously, and I will be scorned and avoided. And I’m one of the lucky ones, because not all of us can adapt to your norms. Not all of us can pretend to be normal long enough to land or keep jobs that we’re qualified for, for police to trust that we’re not a danger, for our medical concerns to be taken seriously, or to experience acceptance that doesn’t feel like one of those TV show episodes where we’re a life lesson for the cast regulars.

I concluded with the following tips for non-autistic people who want society to be a little bit better for autistic people:

  • Recognize that your assumptions are based in your experiences and perceptions of the world and that they aren’t universal – what comes naturally to you, especially in terms of body language, eye contact and speech patterns, does not come intuitively to everyone. Things like flapping your hands or not making normative amounts of eye contact aren’t hurting anyone and should be an accepted way of being.
  • When you’re planning events or meetings, think about how accessible the environment is beyond basic mobility and sound access. We process our environment differently than you do.Try to limit loud sudden sounds, intense smells (perfumes are the easiest to avoid), and touching without asking and waiting for a response.
  • Different people have different needs, ask what those are. 
  • Acknowledge that our thoughts and opinions have as much value as anyone elses.
  • Recognize that written or typed or otherwise nonverbal types of communication are as valuable as verbal communication.
  • Give us time to gather our thoughts and respond during conversations. People think and communicate at different speeds and taking longer to get things out of our mouths or fingertips does not invalidate what we’re saying.
  • Get to know the weird people in your life. Ask us about ourselves, our struggles, and our triumphs and truly listen even if the answers you get are unexpected. 

You can read the full sermon at this link.

 

Work to Ban Source of Income Discrimination!

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

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

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

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

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

 

January 2017 General Membership Meeting: Accountable WA, Legislative Advocacy

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

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

Accountable WA, Kelli Smith, WA Budget & Policy Center

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take Action this week & next: 

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

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

Housing & Homelessness Advocacy Express Bus for Feb. 2!

Housing & Homelessness Advocacy Day 2017 is Thursday February 2nd!
Ride down to Olympia in style on the Coalition’s Advocacy Express! We’ll have 70 seats total on two buses and priority registration for the bus is offered to Coalition members, staff, and clients/guests/members.

Our voices are needed in Olympia now like never before! This is a “long” session year – the session officially started on Monday, January 9, and is scheduled to run through April (though very likely there will be at least one special session after). We want to have as many Coalition members and participants as possible sharing their real experiences with lawmakers in Olympia at HHAD.

To sign up for a spot on the bus for you and others, email your contact info and group size to denise@homelessinfo.org or call (206)-204-8350 by Wednesday, January 25th!

Seats fill up fast! Priority is given to staff of Coalition member organizations and individuals with personal experiences of homelessness.

2017 advocacy express advertizing photo

Click here for a PDF poster to share.

Attending HHAD is a great opportunity for folks who have never been to Olympia before to join. We’ll share advocacy tips and what to expect on the bus, and the beginning of the day is full of workshops that can help people prepare. This will be a powerful experience whether it is your first advocacy day or if you’ve been too many times to count. Coalition staff, and friendly folks at HHAD will help make everyone’s experience as fantastic as possible!

Make sure to also register for Housing & Homelessness Advocacy Day at www.wliha.org/HHAD

 

Continue Support of the White Center Shelter

As we head into a holiday that for many people is synonymous with home and family, let’s turn our attention to White Center. The former public health clinic stands empty, and King County, which owns the building, had hoped to open a shelter in that space on November 1st for 70 people. Three weeks later the shelter has not been opened. That means that 70 people have been outside when they could have been inside for 21 days. In the language of shelter providers, that means 1,470 empty bed-nights. Community members have every right to be notified, to have their questions answered, and to be assured that the shelter will be well run. But not opening the doors to an empty building when there are not only thousands of people homeless does not seem to fit our community’s ideals. We wrote a letter to our community partners in White Center, and we invite you to write your own, using our postcard template, or your own words.

Thanks to King County elected officials and staff, as well as community volunteers and our member organizations for your determination to see the people behind the numbers, and to respond with urgency. We strongly support efforts to increase safe shelter and affordable housing across this region. This is a very good time for all of us to think about how we can help answer the question: how can we bring more people inside, and help them secure a home?

Take Action! Support the Proposed Bellevue Shelter!

The City of Bellevue and King County are working in partnership with Congregations for the Homeless and Imagine Housing to create a permanent men’s shelter which would include 100 emergency beds, a day center and cafeteria, as well as 50 units of permanent housing. We fully support the proposed shelter, but not all community members do. Read this Seattle Times article for more information about the proposed shelter and discussions it has sparked. We encourage you to express your support to the City of Bellevue and King County!

Monday, Nov. 28th at 6pm at Bellevue City Hall (450 110th Ave NE, Bellevue): The Bellevue City Council will receive an update on the proposed shelter and permanent supportive housing project at an extended study session. The meeting will begin with a 30-minute period for oral comments to the council. We encourage you to show up to this meeting and publicly express your support!

If you can’t show up on the 28th, send advocacy postcards to the Bellevue City Council and King County Council (note that you need to put it in an envelope to send, it’s too big to be mailed on it’s own)! (Click here for a pdf of the postcard). Or email your comments directly to the Bellevue City Council at eastsidemensshelter@bellevuewa.gov or to key King County Councilmembers Claudia Balducci (claudia.balducci@kingcounty.gov) and Reagan Dunn (reagan.dunn@kingcounty.gov).

For more information on the shelter including facts on homelessness in Bellevue, community outreach efforts and FAQs, visit the city’s webpage here.