Yesterday almost one hundred homeless service providers from across King County packed Washington Hall in Seattle’s Central District to learn more about state DSHS benefits available to their clients. Lead by dynamic attorneys Sara Robbins and Katie Scott from Solid Ground’s Public Benefits Assistance Program, the training covered the recent changes to the HEN program and TANF, as well as Food Assistance, ABD, Medicare Savings Program, and more. Asking for help is hard, and that is something folks that are experiencing homelessness have to do many, many times a day. Receiving help is easier when the person you’re asking is knowledgeable about the answers and can get you what you need, and that’s why we were grateful so many service providers took time out of their busy schedules to learn the ins and outs of DSHS. Did you know about Equal Access Plans (EAP), that are available for DSHS client’s with disabilities and can alter DSHS requirements to ensure barriers are reduced for people who need extra support maintaining benefits? Neither did myself or most of the people in the room yesterday, but now there are hundreds of people experiencing homelessness across King County that will benefit from their case manager knowing they can request an EAP for them to help them get and keep their DSHS benefits.
Although at the Seattle/King County Coalition we knew there was a demand for this kind of practical, real-world information that is crucial to the day-to-day lives of people experiencing homelessness, even we were surprised when the training filled up in a few days and the eventual waitlist of over fifty. This showed us the urgent need for more trainings of this kind, and we already have several in the works for the upcoming months – sign up on our website to be the first to now about new trainings before they fill up. Due to the demand there will also be a second, slightly condensed Public Benefits 101 training from 9 am -11:30 am next Wednesday, May 2nd at the South King County Forum on Homelessness monthly meeting. Registration is available on our website.