Literacy Source: Free classes and tutoring for adults

The content of this post was created by Lynn Livesley, Executive Director of Literary Source – A Community Learning Center. 

Literacy Source September is back to school time – even for adults! 

New student orientations begin on September 8th at Literacy Source, with fall classes beginning September 15th.  Please help us spread the word about opportunities for adults (18+) to build skills:

  • Help with basic skills (reading, writing, math and English)
  • Free small classes and one-on-one tutoring
  • Daytime or evening options
  • Citizenship classes and help with naturalization applications
  • High school completion options (National External Diploma Program and GED prep)
  • ESL classes in Seattle, SeaTac (with childcare provided) and Tukwila

Classes in Seattle are located at the Literacy Source community learning center on multiple bus lines in Fremont – 720 N. 35th Street.  ESL classes are also held at the Tukwila Community Center and Angle Lake Family Resource Center in SeaTac.

Please forward this message to individuals you think might be interested in learning about these services, and call 206.782.2050 if you would like any additional information.

You can use this flyer with tear-offs with our phone number for hanging: Literacy Source Fall 2014 flyer.

 

Families with Children Committee: Resources Share from the July 23 meeting

Help and support signpostOur Families with Children (FWC) Committee held a Resource Share at their July 23 meeting. Why? Because committee members bring incredible skills, experience, and knowledge to the table each time they meet. Resource shares are a good way to problem-solve and brainstorm, as well as share new (or forgotten) information.

 The Co-chairs asked that each member come to the meeting with something to share to enrich the discussion — specialized resources, handouts, contacts, websites or whatever has been helpful. Here’s what the group came up with this time around…

  1. Child Care Resources (CCR): CCR’s homeless subsidy program to cover all costs of any licensed child care provider, financial assistance program for suburban cities (including Bellevue, Renton, Kent) – these programs are designed to help families who are not eligible for DSHS services.
  2. Additionally, CCR’s information and referral line is helpful for staff and families. Call 1-800-446-1114 to speak with staff who can help families locate licensed childcare providers that meet their specific needs/criteria. They can also do a free search online (click the register button to begin a search if not already a user).
  3. City of Seattle Child Care program - this program does not currently have a waitlist; parents in school (and not working) are eligible; the program will pay for ESL classes; great long-term solution, but program only pays partial cost.
  4. Basic Food Employment and Training (BFET) – Families who receive Basic Food Assistance (SNAP) are eligible for this program. It also applies to folks who attend any community or technical college in Washington State, and partners with Farestart and Goodwill programs. Even if the program runs out of money at each quarter, parents can still get assistance with childcare. Families receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) are ineligible for this program.
  5. Public Health – Kids Plus - Kids plus is a program that meets the unique needs of families who are referred by connecting them to a Kids plus case manager who can provide linkages to a variety of services (housing, mental health, physical health, etc. for parents and children). Staff are well connected and highly knowledgeable of available resources and services. The workers meet with families where they are at and have an ongoing relationship with the families. Contact them directly for a referral sheet that you can use to refer your families as needed.
  6. Atlantic Street Center - Atlantic Street Center offers a variety of programs. As part of The Family Center, families in Central and South Seattle can get up to 45 diapers per month per child! In addition:  The Family Center provides a multitude of free classes and services that help nurture, develop and celebrate family life. Activities include parent education classes, instruction for students learning English, preparation for the US citizenship exam, life skills classes, parent support groups for parents of all ages, physical fitness activities, and cultural events and celebrations. The Atlantic Street Family Center also offers a family support worker who counsels and aids families with challenges they may be facing. Families are encouraged to help with planning services so that the activities offered can best meet participants’ needs. Check out the Family Support page for more details.
  7. Wellspring Family Service’s Baby Boutique (requires case manager referral)
  8. Solid Ground’s Legal Assistance program - “Family Assistance provides information and referral, advice and direct legal representation to individuals who have had their state public assistance benefits (e.g., Basic Food/food stamps, Medicaid, ADATSA, TANF, Disability Lifeline) reduced, terminated or denied.”
  9. Parent Trust for Washington Children - Marni Port (Child and Teen Services Manger) is a great resource. Talk to her about child development, and stress management and relaxation training for children, teens, families, and to bring to your programs!
  10. Bellevue LifeSpring - This is a great service for Eastsiders re: rental assistance, food, basic needs, utilities, etc. Call 425.451.1175!
  11. Compass Housing Alliance’s Safe Parking Program (Road to Housing)
  12. DSHS Office of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance - “We provide a range of services to help refugee and immigrant families meet basic needs, find employment, take care of their children and elders, and successfully integrate into their new communities…”
  13. Sophia Latino (Hopelink) created this incredible East King County Financial Assistance List re: financial assistance, eviction prevention, and moving assistance resources.
  14. Rebecca Valderrama (HealthPoint) shared this Dental Resources list re: dental options for adults in King County. As a reminder: even though adult dental access is back in Washington, many people are unaware, or simply (and understandably!) don’t know how access services.
  15. South King County Mobile Medical and Dental Van – August Schedule. Check these good folks’ website to learn more and sign up for their e-mails. “The Mobile Medical program provides basic medical care, dental care, and social services to homeless individuals and families living in south King County. At each site a full free meal is served by the church. The program does not charge a fee and does not require insurance.”
  16. Laura Del Ragno shared a new transitional housing resource for teen parents ages 14-18 3/4 years old. Contact Laura for more info: 206.323.7409, lauradelragno@gdassociation.org
  17. StoryCorps is in town and looking for people to share their stories/experiences of family homelessness.
  18. Register for Best and Promising Practices in Faith-Based Solutions to Ending Family Homelessness - Aug. 20, 4-8 p.m. at Seattle University
  19. The highlight of the Coalition’s July General Membership Meeting was a screening and discussion of American Refugeesa short-film project of Seattle University Project on Family Homelessness and the Gates Foundation. The four animated shorts document the experience of family homelessness, and resiliency, and can be used to encourage people to challenge stereotypes of homelessness, and become more aware of the breadth and depth of this crisis.

The Families with Children committee will not meet in August as the Coalition will be hosting it’s annual Helping Homeless Students: McKinney-Vento 101 training that week. The next committee meeting will be on Wednesday, September 24 from 9:30-11:30 a.m.. See you then at the E. Cherry YWCA (2820 E. Cherry Street, Seattle WA 98144).

Progress: Winter Shelters extended in Bellevue & Seattle!

Many good people and organizations have worked very hard to add or extend safe overnight shelter.  Special appreciation to the staff at the City of Seattle Human Services Department; the King County Community Services Division; the Bellevue Human Services Department; and providers and advocates at the YWCA, The Salvation Army, Congregations for the Homeless; The Sophia Way; and WHEEL.

  • The King County-funded Winter Shelter (50 men) located at the King County Administration Building will be extended through June 30, 2014, with extended hours beginning on April 16th.
  • The Winter Shelter located at the YWCA Angeline’s (40-45 women) will stay open every night in 2014. The shelter will now serve women nightly through the spring and summer.
  • Winter shelters on the Eastside have been extended, through a combination of private contributions, support from the United Way and the Crisis Response of the Committee to End Homelessness, and help from the city of Bellevue.
  • The WHEEL Women’s shelter, currently hosted at Plymouth Congregational Church in Seattle, has been invited to stay through April 18. WHEEL is working to secure funding to find a new location for spring, summer, and fall, and expects to keep shelter open nightly during this process.
  • Please click here to send a thank you e-mail to King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray for extending winter shelter past the April close date, providing 40-45 women and 50 men each night with safe places to find rest.

And – remember how we added funds for emergency shelter for families with children during the Seattle budget process last fall?  Following a fast RFP, the staff at Mary’s Place is preparing to shelter up to 80 people (25-30 families) at a new shelter ~ doors will be open by May 1, if not before.

$15 Minimum Wage – A Shared Commitment

Last November, voters in SeaTac approved increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour, making national news and inspiring vigorous public conversations about wages, affordability, and income inequality in coffee shops and town halls, on buses, and around water coolers across our region.   Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant have been working hard on this issue, and the Mayor’s Income Inequality Advisory Committee is scheduled to release recommendations at the end of April.  The Coalition on Homelessness has been a part of the conversation about the opportunities and complexities of raising the minimum wage as a member of the Seattle Human Services Coalition (SHSC), a coalition of direct service providers and advocacy groups (see background materials below).  We’ll be taking up this conversation at our April 17 General Membership meeting with Tony Lee, from Poverty Action, and other special guests.  Please join us to discuss the practical, political, and policy issues related to raising the minimum wage for all workers, including human services and housing providers. As usual, we meet on the third Thursday from 9-11 a.m. at the E. Cherry St. YWCA (2820 E. Cherry St.) in Seattle.

Background:

In late March, SHSC, together with Working Washington, SEIU 925, and Kids First Seattle issued a joint press release affirming their clear commitment to a $15 minimum wage because it “lifts workers out of poverty, boosts the economy, and strengthens people’s abilities to meet their basic human needs.” These labor and human services groups noted:

“The current citywide conversation about income inequality and the minimum wage should not be used to pit one low income group against another, because we know that those who work in poverty-wage jobs and those who receive human services can be the very same people. Thousands of low-wage workers can’t feed themselves without help from food banks, and can’t possibly afford early childhood education for their children without public support. And at $9.32 an hour, a housing crisis is never more than a paycheck away.”

The Seattle Human Services Coalition laid out five key points in an  “Issues Advisory on $15 Minimum Wage and Impact for Human Services.” Here is an excerpt from the Executive Summary:

The Seattle Human Services Coalition recognizes the importance of a livable minimum wage in addressing poverty in our community. SHSC fully supports raising the minimum wage for all human services workers (and others) to $15/hr.

We are also acutely aware that this call for raising the minimum wage must be done in such a way that does not result in a decrease in urgently needed services; any solution must take into account the impact on the vulnerable people we serve.

We call upon elected leaders and other stakeholders to take all five of these actions:

      • Include non-profit human service employees in any recommended increases to the minimum wage.
      • Ensure that wage standards and city contract requirements do not lead to a reduction of needed human services.
      • Increase local investments in pay equity, including human services employees.
      • Move the discussion beyond an hourly wage to examine the broader issue of income inequality in our region.
      • Set a base wage that does not include other forms of compensation.

 

What does it take to fill nearly 1,300 backpacks?

What does it take to fill nearly 1,300 backpacks? A lot of planning, a lot of supplies, a lot of backpacks, but most of all A LOT OF FANTASTIC VOLUNTEERS!

Nyree and a pile of backpacksDuring our five volunteer days, we had over 90 volunteers help stuff backpacks for nearly 1,300 homeless children. We had volunteers from age 4 – age 70+ volunteer with Project Cool this year to make sure that every homeless child served by Project Cool could go back to school in September equipped with the same tools for success as every other child in his or her class. Our youngest volunteers were truly some of the best volunteers, they worked hard and had excellent attitudes, even through the long 3 hour shifts when they had to carry heavy backpacks up long flights of stairs. One of our youngest volunteers even came up and asked me, “Can I volunteer with you again soon?” I told her that we would be happy to have her again next year, and she quickly told me, “But next year is SOOOOO far away!”

Bundling pens and pencils (5)Project Cool is truly a volunteer-powered project, and without these fantastic, hard-working, and enthusiastic volunteers, we would not be able to provide something so critical – a brand new backpack with school supplies – at the beginning of the school year to 1,300 homeless children in preschool – twelfth grade.  The gift of a new backpack gives both the parents and the kids one less thing to worry about – the parents don’t have to worry about one more thing to purchase that they can’t afford, and the kids don’t have to worry about being stigmatized at school because they can’t afford the right supplies or a backpack.

Bev and Steve from Windermere stuffing pre-k backpacksEven though the backpacks are all stuffed, Project Cool isn’t over yet! As you are shopping with your kids for their school supplies, think of ways that you might be able to support Project Cool through a school supply drive. We are already beginning to gear up for next year, and the best time to do that is when everything is on sale. If you would like to host a supply drive or find out how to host a supply drive, contact Kathryn Murdock, 2013 Project Cool Coordinator (projectcool@homelessinfo.org).

The Power of Effective Advocacy – Winter Shelter Extended through June 15 for 215 people

Something unprecedented and special happened in our community this spring.  Winter shelters, which usually close on March 31, were extended, first through April 15, and then all the way through June 15th.  While we are all basking in the sunshine at the moment, it’s worth remembering how unpredictable our northwest weather is.  In the last few weeks we have had cold rain, wind, and temperatures near freezing.  The weekend before shelters were scheduled to close on April 15, a hail storm in Seattle highlighted the urgent need for year-round shelter in our city.

Red doors open

The red doors at Seattle City Hall that open to one winter shelter that will now run through June 15

Winter shelter was extended at three locations in Seattle: King County Administration Building (100 men), Seattle City Hall (75 men & women), and at the YWCA’s Angeline’s Center (40 women).  There are many people and organizations who collaborated to accomplish this broadening of shelter. Thanks to strong collaboration, persistence, leadership and effective advocacy, 215 men and women will not be left to fend for themselves through rain, hail, cold and darkness. Instead, they will be inside: safe, dry and warm.

Thank You Note to Seattle City Council in front of the Red Doors

Hand delivering a thank you note to the Seattle City Council that symbolized the opening of the red doors that they opened to extend winter shelter.

Today we hand delivered thank you cards signed by Coalition members to the leadership in Seattle and King County who helped make winter shelter a reality in our community: Seattle City Council; King County Council; Executive Constantine; Mayor McGinn; Director of King County Community & Human Services Department, Ms. Jackie MacLean; Director of Seattle Human Services Department, Ms. Dannette Smith.  Please also send your own note of thanks to any and all people listed above – without their leadership, we would not have been able to extend winter shelter.

 

Section 8 Wait List Open in Seattle

Thousands of entries have already been received for the lottery to be placed on the waiting list for Housing Choice Vouchers in Seattle which opened on February 4th and will close on February 22nd. Housing Choice Vouchers, also known as Section 8 vouchers, provide a rental subsidy to low-income individuals and families that can be applied to private market-rate housing. Recipients of these vouchers can choose a rental anywhere in the city limits of Seattle within a predetermined price range. Renters then pay 30% of their income in rent, and the voucher pays the difference directly to the landlord.

The demand for vouchers is incredibly high and Seattle Housing Authority will randomly select at least 2,000 households to be entered onto the waiting list. This is the first time since 2008 that the waiting list has been opened, and the housing authority is still contacting people from that original list.

For more information about the lottery for the Section 8 waiting list visit the Seattle Housing Authority website or call their waiting list hotline at 206-239-1674. Applications are only accepted by the housing authority, don’t be fooled by scam sites which require credit card information!

Made in America: Homeless veterans on our streets during the One Night Count

“Made in America” ~ Photo courtesy of David Entrekin.  All rights reserved.

This photograph by local business owner, citizen activist, and photographer David Entrekin always takes my breath away.  Click on the image to see the larger photo, and you will see the words on the cardboard carefully laid out to make a sleeping surface: Made in America.  That is how I think about homelessness, and it is especially, painfully apt as we think about homelessness among veterans of our armed forces.

At least 62,619 veterans were homeless overnight during the January 2012 one night counts across the nation. This shocking number includes veterans in shelters and transitional housing programs, as well as those who lack even basic overnight shelter.  Last year, the Coalition developed a new part of the One Night Count designed to improve our  knowledge about how many veterans are without basic overnight shelter.

Homelessness among veterans rivets people’s attention.  People who are  quick to think about homelessness as a complex combination of individual shortcomings, societal failures, and economic hard times, come easily to a simple conclusion:  no person who risked his or her life in service to this nation should be shivering under a bridge.

In the last two years, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (the VA) has begun working more deliberately and closely with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to address homelessness among veterans.  The good news is that this effort has meant that new, additional resources, including money, are being directed to reach out to, shelter, support, and house veterans.  When the national 2012 One Night Count results were released a few weeks ago, Secretary Donovan at HUD and Secretary Shinseki at the VA proudly noted a 7% decrease in homelessness among veterans since the January 2011 count.

For our Veterans Interview Project (VIP), we train volunteers to ask short survey questions the morning after the One Night Count, placing them at public meal sites, day centers, employment and hygiene programs, and other locations where a high proportion of people are likely to have spent the previous night outdoors.  Last year we partnered with 16 Coalition member agencies and other organizations, and spoke with nearly a thousand individuals.  Our volunteers asked three simple questions:

  1. Where did you stay last night?
  2. Have you ever served in the U.S. Armed Forces?
  3. Were you ever called into active duty as a member of the National Guard or as a Reservist?

Through this survey, and through our survey of key service providers who work with homeless people and veterans, we showed that at least 163 King County veterans lacked basic overnight shelter on this one cold, winter night.  This information strengthened and informed our local, regional, and national work.

The Veterans Interview Project improved our local count of veterans, but the sad truth is that we know that actual numbers of unsheltered veterans are higher.  Our careful counts are conservative, and not comprehensive. They allow us to state with confidence that at least 163 veterans in our community need immediate and long-term help, among the many hundreds of people who are outside overnight.

On January 25, 2013, we will be conducting our Veterans Interview Project again.  If you are interested in helping the Coalition with this special project, we are looking for people who are available for a three hour shift on Friday, January 25, 2013, and who have experience working with veterans or people who are homeless.  Please click here to fill out a volunteer application. Thank you.

 

Have you celebrated the City of Seattle budget yet?

The advocacy efforts of SKCCH members and allies paid off this budget season! We wrote, emailed, called, and testified about the very real needs of our homeless neighbors in Seattle. Our mobilization helped to secure over a half million dollars in additional funding for homeless services! This increased funding over the next two years will increase shelter capacity and funding for day services in the City of Seattle. These successes include additional funding for:

  • Rapid Rehousing for homeless people ($200,000 in 2013/2014)
  • Additional shelter services ($100,000 in 2013/2014)
  • Additional women’s shelter ($50,000 in 2013/2014)
  • Funding for homeless day-center services including hygiene in downtown neighborhoods ($200,000 in 2013/2014)

We want to thank the Seattle City Council for their leadership in making investments to provide for the basic needs of people who are homeless. Check out Nick Licata’s blog post about the 2013-14 City Budget to learn more.

With 2,594 people counted sleeping outside on one night in King County during the 2012 One Night Count, we know how important these services are. There is simply not enough shelter to meet the need. This increase in funding will have a real impact for our community’s most vulnerable residents, and we’re just getting started! Stay tuned for our 2013 State Legislative session priorities, and mark your calendars for Homelessness and Housing Advocacy Day on Monday, February 11, 2013.