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. 

Reflections on a rousing 2015 Housing & Homelessness Advocacy Day!

2015 advocacy express advertizing photo On February 17, 2015, 650 of our closest friends and allies from all across the state of Washington gathered in Olympia at Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day to speak up for affordable housing and an end to homelessness.

Driven by an enthusiastic and cheerful bus driver, we headed to Olympia at 7:15 a.m. with 30 Coalition members and friends –  service providers, clients, residents, guests, and others. For some, it was their first time to Olympia and an introduction to advocacy in action. Others were veterans of HHAD. Everyone on the Advocacy Express bus was rearin’ and ready to make a difference, and that they did!

The Coalition’s Advocacy Express bus rolled up right on time to the morning activities, and found inspiration from the first of many speakers that day. Housing Alliance staff, State legislators, and superstar Real Change vendor Pam Russell all spoke how POWERFUL we housing advocates are when we speak up and act together. It’s because of our collective action and advocacy that the Document Recording Fee bill came back from the dead last session, remember!

Our rally at the Capitol steps was a sight to be seen (and heard!). We were inspired by the voices around us. People who have experienced homelessness personally, service providers, representatives from advocacy organizations, students, community members, and people from all walks of life from all over the state were represented as we chanted from the steps through the buildings of the Capitol:

“When they say ‘cutback’ we say fightback!”
“Get up, get down, there’s a housing crisis in this town.”

We were a sea of 650 people wearing red scarves, red shirts, red hats, and many people wore our One Night Count ‘3772’ and Student Homelessness ‘32,494’ buttons. Even as folks dispersed into their legislative district groups, we were unified and unmistakable throughout the halls of the Capitol. Each button and scarf quietly communicated a strong message of solidarity and the importance of these issues.

In addition to the work we do to recruit and transport folks to HHAD, we at the Coalition have the distinct pleasure of also delivering over 1,100 One Night Count advocacy postcards to legislators who represent parts of King County. Hillary and I had great conversations with many Legislative Assistants, some Legislators, and plenty of the helpful staff at the Capitol.

There’s enough energy, passion,and community at HHAD to recharge and reignite our commitment and resolve to take action and make change. Thank you to each and every person who participated! HHAD is but one day a year – and a great day at that – and the other 364 days are just as important. Whatever the method, make sure your legislators hear from you, and hear from you often. Every call, email, letter, and in-person visit throughout the year is what builds and sustains the momentum we need to make positive change in our communities and across our state for people who are homeless and unstably housed.

HHAD 2015 Bus ride home

Thanks for all you do to speak up!

– Hillary and Rebecca