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:

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:

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.

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.

Recap: Families with Children Meeting – KidsPlus Training and Coordinated Entry for All – June 22, 2016

Big thanks to all who were able to join us for last month’s Families with Children committee meeting. As always, it was great to see a room full of familiar and new faces!

We were joined by Mary Dunbar from Kids Plus (Public Health – Seattle & King County), who offered a training on working with guests to address their mental health needs. Danielle Winslow (All Home) provided timely Coordinated Entry for All updates with the group. Highlights and resources from these two folks are below:

  • A list of mental health services available for children can be found here.
    • The YMCA also operates the Children’s Crisis Outreach Response System (CCORS), which offers urgent crisis outreach as well as short-term stabilization resources to children and youth in King County, as well as their families.
    • King County Mental Health’s wraparound services offer additional supports to children to help stabilize them in the community. More information and application processes for this program can be found on the King County website.
  • Adults and folks of all ages can access mental health services at the locations listed on this document.
    • The Crisis Clinic is an excellent resource for folks to call if in need of immediate crisis help, and they also provide information about suicide warning signs and crisis intervention strategies.
    • King County Crisis and Commitment Services are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to provide initial outreach services to folks not already accessing outpatient care in King County as well as evaluation of people with mental disorders for possible involuntary detention in psychiatric facilities according to the mental illness law in the State of Washington.
    • Throughout King County and the state of Washington, low-cost and free clinics are available for folks to access mental and physical healthcare needs. Mary suggests looking into Consejo, Cornerstone, and Project Access Northwest as resources to learn more about mental health services for clients who don’t have insurance.

Danielle joined the committee to update the group on the latest updates to Coordinated Entry for All in King County. The latest handout for stakeholders in the community can be found here, and below are some additional updates:

  • Coordinated Entry for All now has a Systems Manager. Sara Hoffman (sara[dot]hoffman[at]kingcounty[dot]gov) can be contacted with any questions
  • With the implementation of Coordinated Entry for All and a shift away from Family Housing Connection and Youth Housing Connection comes a new website! Check it out here. (For now, folks can still access the FHC and YHC websites, but these will soon be re-directed)
  • All but the Eastside Regional Access Points for Coordinated Entry for All throughout King County have been selected by All Home (Veterans and Young Adults have additional access points):
    • North King County – Solid Ground, Meridian Center
    • Seattle – Catholic Community Services w/ YouthCare and Somali Youth and Family Club
    • Kent – YWCA
    • Federal Way – Multi-Service Center
  • Each of these Regional Access Points (RAPs) is in a different stage, but all will be ready by the end of July

King County 2016 Men’s Winter Shelters for 150 Beds – Extended Until Further Notice

King County Winter Response Shelters 2016 Men’s Winter Shelters for 150 Beds – Extended Until Further Notice

Every year we advocate for more shelter and expanded shelter hours. Your advocacy in the fall helped open the 420 4th ave shelter (Zombie Building) for 50 beds, now spread the word that these 150 beds are open until further notice! See details below, PRINT & POST THIS PDF, and contact Janice Hougen with any questions.

King County Men’s Winter Shelter  – 500 4th Avenue

Open Every Until Further Notice

  • Location:  King County Administration Building – 500 4th Avenue Downtown Seattle (Between Jefferson and James)
  • Operator:  The Salvation Army
  • Capacity:  100 men
  • Hours:  7:00 PM to 6:00 AM
  • Access:  Line up for the shelter in front of the loading dock garage door at the corner of 4th and Jefferson.

King County Men’s Winter Shelter  – 420 4th Avenue (Pets Welcomed)

Open Every Night Until Further Notice

  • Location:        420 4th Avenue, Seattle (Between Jefferson and James)
  • Operator:       The Salvation Army
  • Capacity:        50 Men
  • Hours:            7:00 PM to 6:00 AM
  • Access:           Line up for the shelter in front of the loading dock garage door at the corner of 4th and Jefferson.

Contact:
Please contact Janice Hougen with King County Community Services Division at 206-263-9089 or janice.hougen@kingcounty.gov for further information.

PDF Version of Flyer

Recap: Single Adults Advocacy Committee 11/12/15 meeting: Employment Opportunities with the Diversity Initiative

At our last Single Adults Advocacy Committee meeting, we were joined by Sarah
Rothman, Diversity Business Partner with the Northwest Center at Amazon.NWC_Logo
The Northwest Center seeks to create a pathway to employment by breaking down barriers, and Sarah works to connect people with disabilities to quality employment through the diversity initiative. Everyone who is referred to the Northwest Center will be offered an interview with Sarah to determine a best fit for them and the potential employer. After interviews, Sarah provides next-step actions for the candidate, including interview and agency feedback.
Employment opportunities through the Northwest Center often involve customer service experience, and include cashier, mailroom, food service, and reception positions, among others. More information on open positions can be found on the Northwest Center’s website.

The Northwest Center and Sarah welcome referrals from service providers. Please reach out to Sarah if you would like more information regarding the initiative programs or to refer a client!
You can reach Sarah at srothman[at]amazon[dot]com.

Thanks again, Sarah!


Member updates from the meeting:

Hayden Bass, Outreach Program Manager with the Seattle Public Library: the Seattle Public Library is seeking to connect their programs with existing community organizations. Email Hayden at hayden[dot]bass[at]spl[dot]org to learn about the Library’s current outreach or to seek expansion with your organization.

Coalition updates from the meeting:

2016 will be a  year of case manager trainings:

  • If you’re interested in participating in a small workgroup or committee for planning these 3-4 trainings, be on the lookout for applications coming out in the next couple of months.

One Night Count is kicking into gear:

  • Learn about the different ways to get involved on our website.
  • Area Leads are in the process of contacting past team captains to confirm their participation for 2016 ONC.

Take ACTION!:

  • On Tuesday, the City of Seattle Councilmembers voted unanimously to add $2.265 million to the City’s budget as a one-time allocation to address the crisis of homelessness. Thank you for your support and hard work in these efforts!
  • Please join us in THANKING all City Councilmembers via e-mail, with SPECIAL THANKS to Nick Licata for shepherding this proposal through the budget process.

Legislative season is coming up:

  • Join us at our December 17 General Membership meeting from 9-11am for our 2016 legislative preview.