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.

mtn_economic_incomebracket1200x627-1

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?”

How to Vote YES for Homes – Seattle Prop. 1 – Turn in your ballot by Tuesday, August 2 & important info to share!

yes for homesVote YES on Prop. 1: YES for Homes!  It’s the last item on your ballot, but the most important!

The Housing Levy is the single most important source of funding for affordable housing in Seattle. Your YES vote renews the levy for another 7 years. See www.yesforhomes.com for more information. (the campaign needs your help and you can sign up online to volunteer!)

The Coalition on Homelessness needs YOUR help to make sure that everyone in our community knows how to vote in the August 2, 2016 Primary Election.  In June Coalition volunteers helped 123 homeless and unstably housed people register to vote, and we want to make sure that each of them, 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 to renew the Housing Levy!

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


IMPORTANT ELECTIONS DATES:

  • Tuesday, July 19 Ballots are mailed to registered voters 20 days prior to the election.  If you have not received your ballot by Tuesday, July 19, call King County Elections (206) 296-8683. SPREAD THE WORD – put up a sign in your building (write in ballot drop box 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.
  • Monday, July 25 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, August 2  Election Day! Ballots must be dropped at ballot drop box (by 8pm) or postmarked by August 2, 2016.

Need to read more about your candidates and issues? 


HOW TO TURN IN YOUR BALLOT: 

Ballots can either be mailed in (with first-class stamp, postmarked by Tuesday, August 2), or dropped off at a Ballot Drop Box by 8 p.m on Tuesday, August 2. Drop boxes are open 24 hours/day.

Click here for a map and list of ballot drop boxes around King County. 

Here are four drop box locations in Seattle:

Downtown: King County Administration Building
500 4th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98104

Ballard Branch Library
Corner of NW 57th Street & 22nd Ave  NW, Seattle, WA 98107

University of Washington Campus
1400 NE Campus Pkwy, Seattle, WA 98105

South Seattle: New Holly
Learners Building, 7058 32nd Avenue S. Seattle, WA 98118

 

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

Volunteer Days are over for 2016, but you can help make back-to-school cool throughout the year!

These are Katherine’s reflections on Project Cool 2016:

Last Wednesday, a volunteer placed the final Project Cool backpack into a case manager’s van and I began to reflect on this year’s Project Cool Volunteer Days. As we transition to the next phase of Project Cool, I am able to appreciate Project’s Cool full year cycle and the breadth of people and communities the program touches. We have enjoyed each Project Cool volunteer day, and I feel lucky to have organized, packed and inventoried supplies alongside such fantastic volunteers! As we look forward to the next few months and connecting to community members through supply drives (want to host one where you work or play? Contact Hillary – hillary[at]homelessinfo[dot]org), we know that 1,417 colorful backpacks will enter the first days of school swung over the shoulders of students ranging from Pre-K to 12th grade.

Having only joined the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness a few weeks ago, I entered my first volunteer day with enthusiasm, excitement, and a bit of nervous anticipation of the amount of work to be accomplished in just a week. I could not wait to see the weeks of donation and volunteer coordination I had supported, as well as the year-long effort Hillary and Julia contributed to Project Cool, come to bloom! My expectations were surpassed and my qualms eased by the awesome volunteers that arrived with enthusiasm for each shift.

I feel hopeful for the future of the children that Project Cool serves after discussing many volunteers’ commitment to ending homelessness. Over the past week I learned more fully how raising a child can require mobilization from an entire community. Participants demonstrated how volunteering quickly builds community amongst initial strangers. Participants bonded over their passion for service to form productive, fun work teams. For many of these supporters, Project Cool has become a cherished tradition. Some volunteers even shared their experiences supporting Project Cool for up to 9 years (thank you, Hunskor family!).

Project Cool volunteers illuminated many reasons that can inspire someone to donate their time and resources. A few volunteers shared their own backgrounds experiencing Packed Backpacks for Salvation Armyhomelessness and understood firsthand the difference a Project Cool backpack can make. One mother shared with volunteers that her own children had received free school supplies while growing up and so she wanted to support other parents preparing their children for the school year.

Between rulers and notebooks, dental kits and crayons, inspiration and hope was also packed into each Project Cool backpack, and you can help fill bags for next summer’s Project Cool Days starting today! Here are five easy ways to get involved throughout the year, starting this summer and fall:

  1. Host a supply drive:
    Organizing supply drives are fun and have lots of room for creativity! You know your community best and how to most effectively to elicit donations — whether it is placing a box at your local community center or going door to door. Here is a helpful brochure on what to donate: Project Cool Supply Drive Flyer (with Wish List).
  2. Donate to Project Cool:
    Monetary donations are important and appreciated! All contributions make a significant difference in packing backpacks with the best quality school and dental supplies for students experiencing homelessness. You can donate today on our secure website and dedicate your donation to the work of Project Cool.
  3. Ask your dentist for dental donations:
    Heading to the dentist before the school year starts? Consider bringing in this Dentist Letter that asks for toothpaste, toothbrushes and floss donations.
  4. ‘Like’ Project Cool on Facebook to stay updated on Project Cool throughout the year, and invite friends and family to do the same. The more people that are connected to our social media, the easier it is to spread the word about awesome Coalition happenings!
  5. Volunteer next summer: This year’s Project Cool Volunteer Days are coming to a close but consider volunteering next summer! Stay tuned about when volunteer signups are available by receiving our Friends of Project Cool e-mails.

What’s next for the Coalition’s work in supporting homeless students? As part of our year-round advocacy, we host an annual Helping Homeless Students training for case managers, school employees, advocates, and community members to learn about homeless students’ educational rights. This training is coming up on Wednesday, August 24 at 9 a.m. at Highline High School. Registration is required, so sign up today.

Transit Riders Union Human Services Bus Ticket Campaign

The Transit Riders Union (TRU) is organizing to ensure that everyone in our community can access transit options, especially with the recent expansion of the Light Rail and subsequent changes to some bus service.
As a reminder, the ORCA LIFT low-income fare is now available for anyone in King, Snohomish, or Pierce county who makes less than 200% of the federal poverty limit ($23,760 for a household of 1, $40,320 for a household of 3). Visit www.orcalift.com for more information!

The following information was shared at our April 21 General Membership meeting, and prepared as a guest blog post by Katie Wilson, General Secretary of TRU. PDF version here.


Human Services Bus Ticket CampaignTransit Riders Union
progress report & call to action
April 25, 2016

Progress!

  • The problem: Toward the end of last year TRU started realizing that the expansion of Link Light Rail and the Metro bus service restructure would raise barriers for people who use bus tickets, since the tickets and paper transfers are not accepted as proof of payment on light rail.
  • The pressure: After a letter and meetings with councilmembers produced inconclusive results, we started a petition and announced a public action for April 16th. The KC Exec’s office quickly got in touch to tell us they were working on a solution.
  • 2016 0426 bus and light rail passThe solution: This “combo-ticket” will be available starting mid-June, at a cost $11 for a booklet of 10. (It is priced at 20% of the value of the bus tickets, with no extra cost for the light rail pass.) It will also be possible to swap out tickets already purchased. Until then, King County Metro has said that if organizations purchase Sound Transit Link day passes at $1 each, they will throw in twice as many bus tickets for free (Contact: Brandon Banks, brandon.banks@kingcounty.gov, 206-477-6664.)

More in the works…

  • Raising the cap: Since we’ve heard from many organizations that they were not allocated their full ticket request this year, we have also urged county councilmembers to raise the cap. Councilmember Dave Upthegrove has been very responsive on this issue (call or email him to say thanks!) and we understand that legislation is in the works to raise the cap in the near future, hopefully in May.
  • Reducing the “match”: Clearly many organizations are unable to purchase enough tickets not because of the cap, but because of the cost. We’ve begun push for the tickets to be priced at less than 20% of face value, and Councilmember Upthegrove has expressed willingness to have this conversation. We don’t have any firm commitment yet, though, so we need your help. If the cost of the tickets is a burden for your organization, please address this issue in the survey (see below)!

For the future

  • Card-based solutions: One thing that has emerged clearly through this campaign is that for many low-income, no-income and homeless people, acquiring enough tickets to meet their transportation needs is a time-consuming and frustrating daily process. Although some need for single-use tickets will remain, many people could be better served by an unlimited monthly ORCA (or ORCA LIFT) pass, or a card that could be refilled by social service organizations at a deep discount. We have suggested this to Metro and to councilmembers and they have expressed a willingness to explore options.

What you can do

  • Take the survey by Friday, May 6: King County created an online survey of organizations that distribute the tickets, to help them assess the program and make decisions about raising the cap and reducing the match. The deadline was April 8, but since the word seems not to have got out to everyone, they have opened it back up till May 6. If you submitted a response between April 8 and April 25, it was not received (even though the survey still appeared to be live), so please fill it out again! The survey can be found at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/B73JFLB
  • Stay in touch: Transit Riders Union will continue working with the Coalition on Homelessness, but if you’d like to get direct communications on this specific issue from TRU, email or call Katie Wilson (contact info below) and introduce yourself.

Contact: Katie Wilson, General Secretary | 206-781-7204 | katie@transitriders.org
Transit Riders Union | P.O. Box 20723 | Seattle, WA 98102