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:

Introducing Maggie Malone, the Coalition’s Summer Intern

Hi all,

My name is Maggie Malone, current summer intern at the Coalition on Homelessness, primarily working with Project Cool. I am extremely excited to be a part of the team and hope I can use the knowledge I gain through this experience to better support and advocate for people who are homeless in King County.

I am currently entering my Sophomore year at Gonzaga University, where I intend to earn a bachelors degree in Human Physiology. I like music, travelling, hanging out with friends, running, and playing with my dog. I am originally from Seattle and it is very important to me that I take care of my home.

IMG_0312

I first heard of the Coalition through a family friend who volunteers for Project Cool each year with his coworkers. Project Cool especially sparked my interest because I saw it as a hands-on opportunity to give homeless students the preparedness and confidence to be able to get an education, which I wanted to be a part of. There is so much more to Project Cool than filling up backpacks. The form of advocacy that Project Cool exhibits, allows education to flourish and expands the horizon of support systems. I wanted to join the Coalition because it provides the chance to support a vulnerable population and enlighten others on how they can participate.

This summer, I will be coordinating Project Cool donation drop-off/pick-up sites, managing volunteer events, and providing general support for the Coalition’s database, website, social media, and fundraisers.

 

If you would like to get involved with Project Cool, here is what you can do:

  • Register to volunteer. Backpack filling days are July 14-21.
  • Host a school supply drive or fundraiser. Email us at projectcool@homelessinfo.org for tips and suggestions, or take a look at our 2017 Wish List
  • Donate to Project Cool securely online.
  • Tell your friends!

 

Move-In Cost Assistance for Homeless individuals and families through CCS Hunthausen Fund

Our friends at Catholic Community Services want to make sure that case managers across our region know about this funding opportunity! Click here for a flyer and read on for details.

Catholic Community Services has funding available for King County, Snohomish County, and Pierce County residents for move-in cost assistance through The Hunthausen Fund. This funding is referral-based; Case Managers will complete the application with potential recipients and send it to us for review. If the individual meets all of the outlined requirements and the application is complete, payment will be made directly to the landlord for First Month/Last Month/Deposit (as funding permits). This source is specifically for individuals and families moving from homelessness into public or private permanent housing. Unfortunately, we cannot assist with move-in for transitional housing at this time.

If you’d like to get more information, please review the Program Overview or contact Victoria Anderson (425) 679-0340 or James Tolbert (253) 850-2505 with any additional questions you may have. Please also feel free to tell members of other agencies, as this funding is available to all service providers’ clients, so long as the individual meets the program requirements. Thank you, and we look forward to working with you to get your clients housed!

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.

Recap: General Meeting on the Heroin and Prescription Opiate Task Force Recommendations – October 20th, 2016

The Coalition’s October general meeting occurred on Thursday, October 20th. In attendance were folks from the Transit Riders Union, Washington State Department of Health, King County Public Health Department Health Care for the Homeless, the Low Income Housing Institute, First Place, City of Seattle, Plymouth Housing Group, REACH, King County Metro, Crisis Clinic, The Salvation Army, Jewish Family Services, Seattle Public Library, Child Care Resources, the Housing Development Consortium, Seattle Department of Transportation, El Centro de la Raza, St. James Cathedral, and the Church of Harm Reduction.  Thanks to everyone who attended! 

Here is a brief recap of the meeting:


I: Voting Updates and Resources:

II: Heroin and Prescription Opiate Task Force Recommendations:
[Link to the full report on the Heroin and Prescription Opiate Addiction Task Force recommendations.] 

We were joined by Patricia Sully of the Public Defender AssociationVocal-WA and Chloe Gale of REACH, for a discussion of the Heroin and Prescription Opiate Task Force recommendations. The recommendations by the task force fall into three categories: Primary Prevention, Treatment Expansion & Enhancement, and User Health & Overdose Prevention. Patricia and Chloe focused primarily on the User Health & Overdose Prevention recommendations and the Treatment Expansion recommendations.

The two recommendations in the Health and Overdose Prevention section were to expand the distribution of naloxone and to establish at least two Community Health Engagement Locations/Supervised Consumption Sites. Naloxone is a drug that blocks the effects of opiates, thereby reversing opiate overdose. Click here for more information about naloxone and here for information on how to recognise an overdose. Supervised consumption sites are public health facilities that offer a safe, hygienic place where people can use their own drugs under medical supervision. These sites reduce the spread of HIV and hepatitis-C by providing sterile equipment and safe disposal for used needles, prevent deaths caused by overdose, decrease public drug use and drug-equipment litter, and provide access to health and social services. The task force specifically recommended consumption sites as opposed to injection sites because broader guidelines allow drug users to move away from injection to safer methods of drug consumption. For more information on supervised consumption sites visit the Yes to SCS facebook page. Click here for information on the effects of supervised consumption sites in other cities

The Treatment Expansion and Enhancement recommendations are to increase access to buprenorphine and remove barriers to treatment. Buprenorphine is a medication that can be prescribed to treat opioid addiction, unlike similar medications each dosage does not have to be administered by a medical professional which makes it more accessible. Click here for more information on buprenorphine. Recommendations for reducing barriers to treatment included developing on demand treatment for all types of substance use disorder treatment services and removing certain restrictions that opioid treatment programs have. 

III: Coalition Updates:

  • Budget Process: We are asking that the City of Seattle City Council fully fund human services and  prioritize harm reduction and housing first. Here are some sample messages to email to all 9 Seattle City Councilmembers today
    • Establish an $11M fund to offset the cost of implementing Seattle’s minimum wage without cutting services
    • Restore State of Emergency funding for CCS’ Lazarus Day Center, serving homeless women and men over 50
    • Restore State of Emergency funding for skilled psychiatric outreach to people with mental illness who are homeless through DESC’s HOST program
    • Bring People Inside NOW: Implement the city’s Emergency Preparedness plan, and create 1000 more homes for people who are homeless or extremely low income
  • We thank Coalition members like Stephanie Endres, who are writing open letters and otherwise engaging in community dialogue about homelessness. Find her open letter to White Center folks about the proposed shelter here.
  • Take action: show up to council meetings; email and call your Seattle City Council and King County Council members about increasing human services and stopping sweeps; talk to your friends and neighbors; dispel misinformation about homeless people, sweeps, and what is happening politically around these issues! It is nearing the one year anniversary of the declaration of the State of Emergency (November 2nd), and there are 28 community centers in King County that are empty overnight. We need to hold the city accountable to use all available resources to bring people inside!

IV: Transit Updates:

Save the Date:

Important Voting Dates: 

  • Wednesday, October 26: Ballots received by 10/26: If you or a guest/client/participant has not received their voting ballot, call King County Elections: 206-296-VOTE (8683) Visit blog.homelesinfo.org for signs to post & more information.
  • Monday, October 31: In-person voter registration deadline for NEW Washington State Voters (never registered before) – more information here.
  • Tuesday, November 8: Election Day – Ballots must be in ballot drop-box by 8pm, or postmarked by 5pm on November 8!

Upcoming Events:

  • Saturday, October 29 11am – 12:30pm: Create Change – Using Art to Address Homelessness for Youth & Families – Seattle Public Library Event: Central Library, 1000 4th Ave. Facebook event here.
  • Tuesday, November 1, 5:00 to 8:30 pm: Día de los Muertos Exhibit Opening Event at El Centro De La Raza. More information here.
  • Thursday, November 17, 9:00 to 11:00 AM: General Membership Meeting at E. Cherry YWCA, 2820 E. Cherry St.

Voting Tips: November 8, 2016 General Election: How to turn in your Ballot & make sure your vote is counted

The Coalition on Homelessness needs YOUR help to make sure that everyone in our community knows how to vote in the November 8th, 2016 General Election.  This year Coalition volunteers and Member Organizations helped register voters at the rate of 1/day – that’s 365 homeless and unstably housed people (123 in June, 242 in the Fall) that are some of those who will be receiving ballots for the General Election! We want to make sure that each person who we registered, and anyone else you work with, know how, when, and where to turn in ballots, as well as what to do if they haven’t received their ballot. PLUS, we want to make sure that everyone votes YES on Seattle Prop. 1 for Mass Transit Now! !

Please share this information and call King County Elections (206) 296-VOTE (8683) if you have any voting related questions.


IMPORTANT ELECTIONS DATES:

  • Tuesday, October 25: Ballots are mailed to registered voters 20 days prior to the election (on Wednesday, October 19).  If you have not received your ballot by Tuesday, October 25, call King County Elections (206) 296-8683. SPREAD THE WORD – put up a sign in your building (write in ballot drop box – there are lots of new ones – closest to you) to alert folks to call King County Elections if they haven’t received their ballot, and to let them know where to drop off ballots near your location. Print these flyers to share information with people you work with!
  • Monday, October 31: In-person voter registration deadline for people not currently registered in WA State.  Your new registration must be received in-person at either the Renton office:  919 SW Grady Way, Renton, WA 98057-2906, or Seattle office: 500 4th Avenue, Room 440, Seattle, WA 98104.
  • Tuesday, November 8:  Election Day! Ballots must be dropped at ballot drop box (by 8pm) or postmarked by November 8, 2016 (if mailing, pay close attention to mailbox pick-up time.

Materials to post & share with people you work with:

Need to read more about your candidates and issues? 

  • King County Elections Voter Guide: You can use the online guide, or paper guide that was sent out. If you or the people you work with need a paper guide, call Elections,  (206) 296-8683, to request one.

HOW TO TURN IN YOUR BALLOT – including new BALLOT DROP BOXES: 

Ballots can either be mailed in (with first-class stamp, postmarked by Tuesday, November 8), or dropped off at a Ballot Drop Box by 8 p.m on Tuesday, November 8. Drop boxes are open 24 hours/day.

There are 43 ballot drop box locations around King County, many are new, help spread the word! Please Click here for a comprehensive map and list of ballot drop boxes around King County.  That page on the elections website will give you a map with markers you can click on for each drop box, below the map is a list of all the locations.

ACCESSIBLE VOTING LOCATIONS: 

If you need special equipment to vote, or you have not received a replacement ballot by election day, you may request a provisional ballot in person at one of these locations. Visit King County Elections for more information and hours.

Seattle Union Station
401 S. Jackson
Seattle, WA 98104

Bellevue City Hall
450 110th Ave NE
Bellevue, WA 98004

Renton – King County Elections
919 SW Grady Way
Renton, WA 98057

Sound Transit Proposition 1: Mass Transit Now!

The November 8th election is rapidly approaching and we at the Coalition are excited about one measure that you’ll find at the end of your ballot. Sound Transit (A Regional Transit Authority) Proposition No. 1 will be the very last thing on the ballot and we encourage you to vote yes! 

In the past the Coalition has worked on other transit issues, including the ORCA LIFT fare and the Move Seattle transit measure. We care about affordable transit because it allows low-income individuals to access opportunities that they otherwise wouldn’t, it helps people survive and increases their ability to thrive in our community. mtn_economic_commuters1200x627

Here are reasons why the Coalition is excited about Proposition 1:

  • Proposition 1 invests more than $20 million in affordable housing, and requires 80% of surplus land to be prioritized for building affordable housing.
  • Mass transit built as part of this proposition will serve more than 36,000 current units of subsidized housing.  As more affordable housing is built along the line, more people will be served by transit.
  • It will increase access to jobs and education for low-income, working and middle class families by providing an affordable transportation option with shorter commute times.
  • It will provide reliable public transportation for seniors and people with disabilities which will allow for more independence.
  • Mass transit will reduce air and carbon pollution, which disproportionately impacts people of color.

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Voting yes on Sound Transit Proposition 1 will increase equity in our community by increasing opportunities for low-income and middle class individuals. This is the most cost effective way to expand transit and help people get where they need to go!

For more information on Proposition 1 visit masstransitnow.com and for updates on the campaign find them on facebook.

If you’re passionate about this issue and would like to volunteer with the Mass Transit Now! campaign you can sign up to doorbell, call voters, go to community events, do data entry or other important work here!

We’re on board, are you? im-on-board

Powerful Comments at City Council

On Friday October 14th the Human Services & Public Health Committee of the Seattle City Council met to discuss Council Bill 118794, an Ordinance to Protect Public Health and Safety and Reduce Harms Experienced by Unsheltered Residents of our City. There was public comment at the end of the meeting which included powerful statements and stories from Coalition members and concerned citizens. Below are clips of a few of these comments.

Julie, a mother from Magnolia had heard misinformation about the ordinance from her neighbors. Upon researching the ordinance she’s in favor of it. She asks that we remember that some of the unsheltered are families with small children, stating that:

 “Some of my children’s classmates are living in encampments. My heart burns with shame when I think about how we have failed them. And it angers me when I hear parents from our school talking about organizing a protest at the local park for fear that their property values will fall. What message are we sending to those children, to their courageous parents who are doing everything they can to get their children to school on time every day.”

Cecelia Linsley, a parent from South Seattle spoke about choosing to raise her children, Chiara and Thea, to be people who pay attention and help those around them, saying that

“It is a privilege to raise children in Seattle if you have the resources. It would be really easy to carry on with our lives ignoring the fact that not everyone around us…is privileged, but that’s not how I want to raise my children….We’re going to keep using our public parks and other public spaces even if people are camping there. We are going to keep noticing and talking to the people around us – even when they don’t look or live like us. And you can trust that we’re going to keep paying attention to how our elected leaders are responding to this crisis.”

Sheryl Manawa is a woman currently experiencing homelessness in Seattle. She shared a powerful poem she wrote on the bus on the way to the Council meeting:

“Where do you want me to go?
What do you want me to do?
You want me to be you.
You want me to be clean,
respectable,
dignified,
housed,
working,
independent.
You want me to be you.

But something happened,
something went wrong,
I was you once,
We all were or mostly.
But something happened.
For some a job was lost
For some drugs
For some an accident
or muscular dystrophy
or schizophrenia, PTSD, or Depression
Or just bad choices.
And things went wrong.

We lost our homes,
our jobs.
But also our friends,
our family,
and finally as we stand
in the street
with our children
staring all around,
we lose our dignity.

Should we now die?
Have you checked the rosters?
The shelters are full.
Have you tried to work with your house on your back?

How do I get to be you?
I’m dirty.
That’s how you see me.
I’m lazy.
Again what you see.

Me,
I have to build a house every night,
find food,
eat it from the can,
make a bed,
and bathe in a gas station.

This is not lazy.
This is an attempt to be you.

Then you close your eyes.
Where do you want me to go?”