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:

Julia’s reflection on the 2015 Homeless and Formerly Homeless Youth Advocacy Summit

Six weeks into my internship with the Coalition on Homelessness, and my experiences have been above and beyond any of my expectations a month ago. Two weeks ago, I was excited to be a part of the 10th Annual Homeless and Formerly Homeless Youth Advocacy Summit (October 5-6, 2015). While doing advocacy work in Minnesota, I learned that I would constantly learn and grow by witnessing folks advocate around issues that impact their lives, and my time at the Youth Advocacy Summit proved to be no exception to this rule!

Buttons

Having just supported the Coalition’s 2015 Voter Registration drive, one of the highlights of the Summit for me was witnessing young people choosing to participate in advocacy by exercising their right to vote. Over the course of the Summit, I was particularly excited to watch people think in a different, new way about voting. On the first day of the Summit, one participant was pretty vocal in their choice to not register to vote, feeling that their vote wasn’t enough to make change. Through conversations with other Summit participants, discussions about our elected officials in city and county government, and time to reflect, this participant changed their mind and decided to register! They are ready to have their voice heard in the upcoming election, and will do so through their vote as well as their conversations with Councilmembers during and beyond the Youth Advocacy Summit.

Participants at the Youth Advocacy Summit took on no small task! I was impressed by these advocates’ commitment over two very full days (three days for Peer Leaders!) of discussing some of the hard work that needs to be done in this community. Advocates worked on and presented one of four issues throughout the Summit:

1 – Need for an increase in the numbers of available permanent and affordable housing units
2 – Issues specifically impacting People of Color and LGBTQ youth
3 – Need for increased access to low-barrier, supportive resources
4 – Street safety and public space use.

22286526835_09d42f0467_oAdvocates met with King County Executive Dow Constantine; King County Councilmembers Larry Gossett, Dave Upthegrove, Kathy Lambert, Joe McDermott, and Rod Dembowski; Seattle Mayor Ed Murray; Seattle City Councilmembers Kshama Sawant, Nick Licata, Tim Burgess, and Mike O’Brien; and senior staff from the Seattle Human Services Department to discuss their topics.

On the second day of the Summit, I was able to sit in on the meeting between the advocacy group focusing on issues impacting People of Color and LGBTQ youth and Councilmember Kshama 22124339060_7c780765bc_zSawant. Councilmember Sawant was clearly invested in the conversation, and engaged with participants through asking questions and sharing her observations. Our meeting with Councilmember Sawant was incredibly driving; at the end of our meeting she stated that the work being done that day in the office was the groundwork to making change. She asked participants to continue to speak up, and made it clear that she supports their efforts to work towards a community where all are safe and treated equitably. Councilmember Sawant reminded myself and the people that I was with that change may not happen quickly, but that it is made possible through the long efforts of folks like those meeting with her in that moment.

After the Youth Advocacy Summit, I went to my first City Council budget hearing. As a newcomer to the city, I find myself constantly learning from the locals who have experienced firsthand the impact of the City of Seattle’s budget. Several advocates from the Youth Advocacy Summit were present to speak up, as well as representatives from all over the city who care about creating a budget that adequately responds to the state of emergency in this city. Seeing folks testify for a budget that actually responds to the state of emergency, instead of taking the usual stance of “business as usual”, has helped me to understand the impact that this budget will have on the city. More than anything, these testimonies serve as a reminder to me that people need to continue to speak up! The next, and final, public budget hearing will take place TONIGHT, October 20th, at 5:30 PM (sign-in begins at 5:00!), and we need you to show up to speak up for Human Services and housing and homelessness issues. Join us, wear red to declare the state of emergency, and be ready to tell City Council that “we are in a state of emergency; we must have an equal response”.

Voting in the Tues. November 3, 2015 General Election: Ballot drop-box locations & Important Dates

The Coalition on Homelessness needs YOUR help to make sure that everyone in our community knows how to vote in the November 3, 2015 General Election.  This year the Coalition and Member Organizations, thanks to great staff and volunteers, helped 188 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. Please share this information and call King County Elections (206) 296-VOTE (8683) if you have any voting related questions.

Another opportunity to TAKE ACTION: Join Coalition members on Tuesday, October 20 at the Seattle City Council Budget Hearing (Seattle City Hall: 600 4th Ave, Seattle, 98104) to tell your elected officials why it is necessary to fully fund Human Services.  Check out this Action Alert from the Seattle Human Services Coalition for more information. We need your help to fill the room in support of human services.  


IMPORTANT ELECTIONS DATES:

  • Tuesday, October 20 Ballots are mailed to registered voters 20 days prior to the election.  If you have not received your ballot by Tuesday, October 20, call King County Elections (206) 296-8683. SPREAD THE WORD – put up a sign in your building 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, Oct 26 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, Nov 3  Election Day! Ballots must be dropped at ballot drop box (by 8pm) or postmarked by Nov 3, 2015.

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, November 3), or dropped off at a Ballot Drop Box (24 hours/day – see below) or Ballot Drop-Off Van (daytime hours 10/31, 11/2-11/3 – see below). You can also download a word document of this information.

24-HOUR BALLOT DROP BOX LOCATIONS: 
Available 24 hours a day between October 15 and 8:00pm on Election Day, November 3

[table “2” not found /]

BALLOT DROP-OFF VAN LOCATIONS: 
Available October 31 & November 2 from 10am to 5pm and on Election Day, Nov. 3, 2015 from 10am to 8pm

[table “3” not found /]

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