Solidarity Fund – Rapid Response to COVID-19 pandemic

The Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness announces the launch of our Solidarity Fund. 
This is a rapid response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the clear and disproportionate dangers this emergency presents to people already experiencing homelessness.  
Solidarity Funds are available to help local organizations address urgent on-the-ground needs with flexibility and speed.

Donate to our Solidarity Fund:
Select “COVID19” on our donation page.

What can funds be used for?
Funds are intended to support programming and direct services, or bolster internal operations to respond effectively to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tell us what you need to do your work.  
We will consider requests to fund tangible goods, supplies, and direct services up to $5,000. Requests over $5,000 will be considered on a case-by-case basis as our funding pool allows.

Please note: We created this fund quickly as generous people asked us how to offer immediate help in an unprecedented emergency on top of the crisis of homelessness. This is a new area of work for us, and a work in progress, subject to revision as we learn and get feedback. Our goal is for the Solidarity Fund to be a responsive, streamlined, useful, and equitable source of practical support.

Our members have first-hand knowledge about homelessness and the strengths and gaps in services and systems. This grounds our work in reality. The Solidarity Fund is intended to respond to that reality and improve life, health, and safety for people in our community NOW.  We will continue to advocate for massive, coordinated, and effective government response and strengthened public policies at the local, state, and federal levels.  

Administration: We will draw a 10% administrative fee from the funding pool to cover costs to the Coalition of administering these grants. 

Applicants must:

  1. Be either 501c3 or fiscally sponsored.
  2. Provide direct services (outreach, shelter, day or hygiene services) or rent-restricted affordable housing to people who are homeless or who were formerly homeless, live in King County, and are living at or below 30% of the area median income.
  3. Have a clear plan and the capacity to spend funds within 90 days.

Applications will be prioritized by:

  1. Coalition member organizations [Membership dues are sliding scale and current ability to pay full dues should not be a barrier to membership. Please see our Membership page here.].
  2. Organizations with budgets of under $1,500,000 (we will consider requests from larger organizations but wish to prioritize smaller entities).
  3. Organizations that serve people who are currently without housing or shelter or people at increased risk of contracting COVID-19 or suffering severe health consequences if they do.
  4. Proposals that help meet needs not addressed adequately by existing public resources.

Applications are currently being accepted on a rolling basis. To apply, complete this google form or request an electronic or hard copy of the form, and submit it along with simple backup documentation to solidarity@homelessinfo.org. Review and turnaround will be within 7-10 days (we will be as responsive as possible).

Review criteria will include:

  • Applicant can demonstrate experience working respectfully and effectively with people experiencing homelessness or providing housing services to people who were formerly homeless.
  • Applicant has a clear plan to carry out proposed activity or deploy resource for which funds are requested within 90 days.
  • Applicant serves people who are unable to access mainstream services or advocate effectively for themselves; people who are without shelter; people who are at high risk to contract infectious diseases or suffer serious effects of such diseases.

A report, consisting of a brief narrative account of services provided or resources obtained and relevant receipts, is expected within 90 days of the grant being made. Reports may be made verbally by phone or video call, over email, or on-line.  

Please send questions to solidarity@homelessinfo.org  

Exclusions:

  1. Organizations that exclusively provide healthcare.
  2. Organizations that proselytize or require participation in religious activities or programming to be eligible or prioritized for services.
  3. Organizations that question or deny scientific evidence or best practices related to disease transmission, harm reduction, public health, or civil rights.
  4. Organizations that discriminate based on gender, sexual orientation, race, or ethnicity, religious belief or lack thereof, immigration status.

Community ideas to support people experiencing homelessness and service providers during COVID19 pandemic

Online “marketplace” connects donors with people and organizations in need during COVID-19 outbreak

The King County Regional Donations Connector is now available online to link up individuals, businesses, non-profits, and others who have resources with those who need them during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Donations Connector will help make sure services, supplies, and funding reach health care providers, first responders, and social service entities working on the front lines.

The website at kingcounty.gov/emergency/donate serves three major functions:

  1. A system that allows donations and offers of assistance to be used in the response effort.
  2. An online “marketplace” where offering organizations can be matched to those in need.
  3. An easily searchable list of ways the public can get help.

Donating businesses, agencies, and individuals are invited to share what they have to contribute (such as funding, medical supplies, masks, counseling, or other goods and services) and link up with organizations involved in the COVID-19 pandemic response.

Who is the Donations Connector for?

  • Private and public entities with items or services to donate
  • Community and faith-based organizations
  • The general public

What types of donations are requested?

  • Funding
  • Food (both perishable and non-perishable)
  • Medical supplies
  • Sanitary supplies
  • Facility space
  • Services such as counseling (legal, mental health, etc.), labor, janitorial, catering, event planning, and more

Volunteering

People who want to volunteer their time can contact local volunteer groups or register through the United Way of King County at volunteer.uwkc.org/volunteer-response-covid-19. You can also view our Coalition member organizations here who may need volunteers.

March 19, 2020 Coalition Membership Meeting Zoom Call – Agenda, Zoom tips, Resources

Thank you to all who joined our meeting – we had over 100 folks participate. Sign up for Coalition emails to make sure you receive updates and notice of upcoming meetings.
Highlights of resources shared on the call are below.

Recording of the Coalition’s March 19, 2020 General Membership Meeting
(video content starts around 1:00 min, enjoy a silent awkward beginning)

Agenda from Thursday, March 19 meeting

  • 9:00 – Introduction to meeting, zoom call tips, welcome from Coalition, Grounding exercise
  • 9:15 – 10:25- COVID-19 for Homeless Service Providers
    • Jody Rauch, Clinical Quality Lead, Health Care for the Homeless Network
    • Marta Lema, Homelessness Response Coordinator, Public Health Seattle-King County Environmental Health Services Division
    • Leo Flor, Director of King County Department of Community and Human Services (DCHS)
  • 10:25 – 10: 35 – Legislative Session Wrap-Up part 1
  • 10:35 – 10:50 – COVID-19 State policy changes (just a couple)
  • 10:50 – 11:10 – 2020 Legislative Session Debrief
    • Sarah Brady, Policy & Advocacy Manager, Child Care Resources
    • Michele Thomas, Director of Policy & Advocacy, Washington Low Income Housing Alliance
  • 11:10 – Census 2020 Update
    • Stay tuned for further communications
    • Partners on the phone:
  • Next Monthly Membership Meeting: Thursday, April 16, 9:00 a.m. via Zoom (Please register for call).

Resources from the meeting we’ll highlight (more to be added after the meeting)

COVID-19 related

Legislative Session Highlights & State advocacy around coronavirus

Census Resources

Zoom 101 tips for our meeting

  1. We will provide the Zoom call info ahead of time via email and on social media, so join us early that morning!
  2. If you’re on a computer, access the call via link we’ll provide. Computer is recommended as it’s easier to engage in the call by seeing the chat, seeing the participants, and having visual ability.
  3. If you’re calling in, dial the provided number, and provide the meeting ID number when prompted. To switch between mute and unmute, press *6 or use the mute ability on your cell phone.
  4. Please provide your name and organization, if applicable, as your display name so we know who has joined us
  5. Please provide your email in the chat to ensure you receive our follow-up email
  6. The chat box is a great way to engage in conversation during the call with the host and other participants – ask questions, share information and resources, and provide feedback
  7. Do you have access to a computer without a microphone or a phone without visuals? You can join via both in order to get the full benefit of the call

Seattle/King County Coronavirus (COVID-19): Information for Homeless Service Providers

(Last Updated: April 2, 2020 at 4 p.m.)

This blog contains information about COVID-19 and resources for housing and homelessness service providers. Information about calls and webinars are at the top of this post, helpful documents are below.

Please visit Public Health Seattle-King County’s website (www.kingcounty.gov/covid) or Public Health’s blog for general COVID-19 updates and information. Please visit Healthcare for the Homeless Network’s website for Homeless Provider specific information and documents.

Public Health Seattle-King County is working closely with the WA State Department of Health and tracking information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Our goal is to ensure that homeless services and housing providers and advocates have timely and accurate information and resources to help you do your work well.

IMPORTANT: Direct Homeless Service Providers should email covidhomelessnessresponse@kingcounty.gov to get on their distribution list for calls, important documents, and timely updates.

Novel Coronavirus Call Center: 206-477-3977, hours: 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. daily

  • Tell the call center you work at a homeless service providing organization, or are with someone who is homeless who is showing symptoms (or has tested positive/awaiting results) – their phone tree will get you to somebody specific to provide support.
  • Call if you are in King County and believe you were exposed to COVID-19—or if you’re a healthcare or service provider with COVID-19 questions.

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Changing or reducing services or hours at your agency?

If your agency is reducing or modifying any of your services as a result of COVID-19, please notify Public Health at covidhomelessnessresponse@kingcounty.gov and let the Coalition know as well at notices@homelessinfo.org so that we can better track and coordinate available resources.

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**For most up-to-date call and meeting information, please visit King County’s Public Health’s COVID-19 Homelessness Response calendar**

Q&A Call for Homeless Service Providers – Every Tuesday and Thursday, 11 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

These calls provide the opportunity for homeless service providers to share questions or concerns with King County staff about sanitation/hygiene or interim COVID guidance. These calls are open to all staff of homeless service agencies. Join via Skype online or by Phone206.263.8114, conference ID 9410150.

It is recommend that you watch the webinar recording from Public Health to go over Sanitation and Hygiene Guide, with a special focus on COVID-19, then bring any questions you have to the call.

Weekly Homeless Service Provider Call with Public Health – Every Wednesday, 2 p.m – 3 p.m.

  • What: A weekly check-in regarding Coronavirus. The goal is to coordinate our efforts to support and protect people living homeless. 
  • When: Weekly Wednesdays from 2-3 p.m. March 11 through April 1 (or as needed).
  • Who: This call is intended for key staff at homeless service provider agencies, Seattle King County Public Health’s (SKCPH), Health Care for the Homeless Network (HCHN), the City of Seattle Human Services Department (HSD) and King County’s Department of Community and Human Services (DCHS). Please identify one lead staff person from each agency to participate, and then be responsible for disseminating information within your organization. This will allow for a manageable number of people to be on the call, to ask questions, and to get answers.
  • How to get call-in information: Email King County staff: CovidHomelessnessResponse@kingcounty.gov

– Homeless Outreach Provider Call – Every Thursday, 12:00 p.m. – 1 p.m.

These calls are an opportunity for Outreach Workers to come together to share best practices and get updates on the ever developing COVID-19. Join via Skype online or by Phone 206.263.8114, conference ID 1691673.

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Public Health Guidance: Please visit Public Health’s website for the most current versions and more information

Seattle-King County Public Health has released updated COVID-19 interim guidance for homeless service providers – thank you to all who provided input. These documents are updated often – instead of saving a PDF to reference for weeks, make sure that your team is checking the updated website daily to get the most up-to-date documents.

The following guidance documents made available on 4/1/2020:

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Sanitation and Hygiene Documents and Resources:

  • Sanitation and Hygiene Guide for Homeless Service Providers
    • This guide is for operations, staff, volunteers, clients, and residents who are involved in the day-to-date operations of shelters, tiny home villages, day and hygiene centers, as well as other direct service programs for people experiencing homelessness. The purpose of this guide is to reduce the spread of contagious diseases, prevent food-borne illnesses, and to ensure safe and sanitary spaces for individuals experiencing homelessness.
    • See webinar recording here at bottom of page from Friday 3/6/2020 webinar about the guide with COVID-19 focus.
    • Please pay particular attention to the following sections:
      • Disease Prevention  – Page 5
      • Hygiene – Page 9
      • Food Safety – Page 17
      • Sanitize & Disinfect – Page 21 & Page 22
  • Sanitation & Hygiene Assessment Tool for Homeless Shelters, Day Centers, Villages, and Encampments
    • This document helps to ensure the health and safety of clients, staff, and volunteers, and to determine if additional support is needed to meet minimum sanitation and hygiene standards.
  • Stop Germs, Stay Healthy! Hand washing posters are available in 22 languages.

For further information on the Coronavirus disease, please visit:

Employment Assistance Programs: Information and Coalition Update from January 16 Zoom Call

Although The Coalition cancelled our January Membership Meeting in recognition of the extra strain severe weather conditions put on people experiencing homelessness and on service providers, and the real difficulties of winter travel in our large county, we did host a ZOOM call to update members on the 2020 Legislative Session priorities, click HERE to visit our State Legislative Advocacy page see many ways you can take action! We had a great panel of staff from Employment Services Programs who were going to present at the meeting, and we will be rescheduling these presenters for a future Coalition meeting. In the meantime, we wanted to share programmatic and contact information for these employment and job readiness training programs so that your programs and clients can access these important resources. Please contact the programs below directly if you or your clients have any questions about their services.

Department of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR)

  • The Department of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) serves people with disabilities between the ages of 16 to 80, and helps with gaining, maintaining and advancing in employment.
  • Eligible clients must have a permanent disability (intellectual, mental and/or physical in nature) and barriers to employment. In order to refer, client must make contact themselves for intake unless they need assistance to call, and in that case, a case manager can set up the appointment if they let the front desk staff know the customer cannot make the initial contact.
  • To request an intake, call 253-372-5900, or reach out to your local Work Source office for a referral. Please contact Allesandria Goard for more in-depth information on the services and nuances of the DVR program.

Pioneer Human Services  

  • Roadmap to Success is a job-readiness program for formerly justice involved individuals who are seeking full time employment
  • To be eligible for the Roadmap to Success program, clients must have a criminal background and they must want to go to work and be able to do so. Roadmap to Success is a 3-week class where students go through cognitive behavioral training, targeted resume and cover letter creation, job development and vocational assessments, hard and soft skills of interviewing, and support in connecting to employment.
  • You can submit your application here. For more information contact Rudy or reach out to pioneertraining@p-h-s.com  

Multi-Service Center

  • Career Ready is a 10-week aerospace manufacturing training for adults 18 and older who are receiving SNAP food benefits. This ensures tuition paid in full through the BFET program
  • Anyone living in the South King County area, who is low income and seeking a new industry to enter is encouraged to apply.
  • Those interested should contact Julie Sanchez, 206-549-6236 or email at Julies@mschelps.org   

Foundational Community Supports Supported Employment

  • Foundational Community Supports (FCS) is a program offering benefits for supportive housing and supported employment for Medicaid-eligible beneficiaries with complex needs. Amerigroup Washington, Inc. will work with housing and employment providers to help clients find and maintain jobs; acquire stable, independent housing; and gain the necessary skills to be successful.
  • The Supported Employment program provides one-to-one person centered supports to find and maintain paid employment. The FCS SE program can help in looking for the right job, getting ready for the interview, and improve job success by teaching helpful routines and working with their employer to ensure they get the aids and supports they need to be successful
  • To see if you client is eligible for services through Foundational Community Supports, you can submit a FCS Supported Employment Assessment Form (English). Spanish language form here.
  • All referrals should be submitted directly through Amerigroup. To apply, contact Amerigroup at FCSTPA@Amerigroup.com, call 1-844-451-2828 (TTY 711) or fax 1-844-470-8859. Amerigroup can be reached Monday-Friday from 8:00 AM-5:00 PM at the phone number provided.
  • For more information about Supported Employment services please email Krystal Baumann or call 360-522-2363 

WELD Works

  • WELD Works serves as a transitional labor program to connect people with employment opportunities in construction, clean-up, and general labor services.
  • Serving King and Snohomish Counties, the program’s model facilitates transitions from temporary to permanent employment as a part of successful reentry. WELD Works is a division of Weld Seattle, whose mission is to equip system impacted individuals with housing, employment and resources conducive to recovery and successful reintegration. To apply:
  • Those interested in applying are encouraged to fill out this referral form, or contact Jay Pershing at (206) 972-8033 or email works@weldseattle.org

TRAC Associates Career Development Program  

  • TRAC Associates provides comprehensive vocational assistance services to job seekers regardless of employment background.
  • Their team of employment navigators and mental health councilors have locations across King County to connect applicants to a variety of job skills training programs and have relationships with employers across a variety of industries.
  • For more information contact Carrie Lewis at 206-466-7432

2020 Legislative Session Preview Meeting Summary and Resources – 12/19/2019


Thank you to 95 people who filled the room for our December Membership Meeting and Annual Legislative Preview meeting. The first day of the 2020 Washington State Legislative Session is Monday, January 13.

We were joined by State Representative Nicole Macri (LD 43), State Senator Patty Kuderer (LD 48), and Zach Hall, Legislative Assistant to State Representative Lisa Callan (LD 5) who shared priorities for the 2020 session related to housing and homelessness, childcare, public benefits, and more. We also had time for rich conversation after questions from the audience to lawmakers.

After hearing from these state elected officials, four of our statewide advocacy partners shared about their priorities for the upcoming session. Below are handouts, a few of the actions we asked people to take at the meeting, and invite anyone reading this post to do the same. We also have information about contacting our partners and about upcoming lobby days.

We shared our preliminary legislative priorities and invite you to get ready for the 2020 legislative session by signing up for our Action Alerts and attending a Homelessness Advocacy 101 workshop.

Handouts from the meeting:

Take Action Now as you get ready for the 2020 legislative session:

  1. Sign up for Coalition Take Action Alerts to receive timely alerts to support legislative actions related to our priority issues.
  2. Play Advocacy Bingo with us throughout session (see instructions below).
  3. Sign on letter for Working Connections Child Care Homeless Grace Period Extension – sign your organization on or ask someone at your organization to sign on today
  4. Plan to attend a lobby day in Olympia – a few are listed below
  5. Attend a Homelessness Advocacy 101 workshops. A fun way to learn how to be an effective advocate during the legislative session. Sign up here for workshops in Seattle (1/29), Bellevue (2/5), and Kent (2/8).

Statewide Advocacy Partners Information:

How to play Advocacy Bingo:

  1. Print out an Advocacy Bingo card and post it in a place where you’ll see it throughout the legislative session
  2. Cross off bingo squares as you complete the items – the goal is to get 5 in a row! Bonus points for a total blackout.
  3. Email a photo of your bingo card in progress to speakup@homelessinfo.org by 1/15, 2/5, 2/20, or 3/3. We’ll draw for prizes at the following days’ Coalition Membership Meeting or South King County Forum on Homelessness Meeting.
  4. Encourage others to join in the fun!

2019 December 10 Public Benefits 101 Workshop

The Coalition hosted a Public Benefits 101 Workshop on Tuesday, December 10 as part of our on-going series of Case Manager Trainings. Over 90 direct service providers joined us for a three-hour training covering the basics of public assistance programs offered by the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS). Thank you to presenters Sara Robbins and Katie Scott from the Solid Ground Legal Benefits Assistance Program who led the training and shared their knowledge and passion with the room. A brief summary of the programs covered below.

Click here for slides from 12/10/2019 Presentation

The workshop began with an overview of cash programs administered by the state. The Aged, Blind and Disabled program (ABD) and Housing and Essential Needs Program (HEN) are the primary cash benefits available for single adults without children. Formerly called Disability Lifeline, ABD provides $197/month to adults with a disability who do not receive significant income from work or another public benefit program. HEN has similar eligibility requirements but does not result in a direct cash payment. Details differ by region, but the primary benefits consist of a rental payment voucher and case management services. Visit Washington Connection to see if you or your client may be eligible to apply for cash assistance.

For families, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (TANF) is the primary cash assistance program available. TANF has a work requirement called WorkFirst that mandates TANF recipients be looking for work or be enrolled in some sort of job training program. Clients are required to sign off on an Individual Responsible Plan (IRP), failure to meet this requirement can result in a reduced or terminated award. The presenters stressed to the room that case managers should request copies of their clients IRPs and review them closely, noting they have found success in reinstating benefits when they can point to unreasonable or inconsistent items in the plans. Katie also shared that WorkFirst can provide additional financial resources to those on TANF looking for employment help, but that this can be difficult to access. There is a support services directory that outlines what this entails, she encouraged the room to tell clients to print out a copy to bring with them when requesting assistance.

The most widely used DSHS program is EBT food benefits, as confirmed by the 67 attendees who completed our pre-workshop survey. This benefit scales based on income; an average food stamp award offers around $125/month. Check out this benefit calculator to see how much you or your client may be able to claim in food benefits. The presenters stressed that there is no minimum age requirement for food assistance, meaning that minor children not living with their parents can apply and receive benefits. Presenters encouraged case managers working with youth denied food assistance to refer cases to their program.

Working Connections Childcare program (WCCC) provides a subsidy for daycare that is paid directly to the provider. Families qualify either through enrollment in Workfirst or based on income, and homeless families who qualify for neither can still receive services through a homeless grace period. The grace period currently lasts four months, partial months count towards the total and childcare providers are hesitant to accept payment due to these restrictions.

Fortunately, there is help for families in need of assistance. We were joined by Alexandria Barbaria and Norma Renteria Lobo from Child Care Resources who shared information on their program that helps families navigate the childcare system. Childcare Resources helps families experiencing homelessness in King and Pierce county apply for WCCC and can assist in finding childcare providers. They have also been active in advocacy efforts around expanding the homeless grace period, an effort they plan to take into the 2020 legislative session starting in January.

DSHS offers an appeal process to those who have had any of the above benefits reduced or terminated. If you or someone you work with has an issue with their benefits and wants to understand their legal options, reach out to the following for more information.

Solid Ground Public Benefits Legal Assistance Program provides legal help and information to single adults and families whose public benefits have been reduced, terminated or denied.  Call 206-694-6792 or email benefitslegalhelp@solid-ground.org

The Northwest Justice Project provides low cost assistance to those involved with non-criminal legal problems including public benefit disputes. For a free screening call 2-1-1 or fill out an online referral form at nwjustice.org/apply-online

Washington Law Help: Online directory of civil legal information.

2019 October 17 General Membership Meeting Summary and Bring Seattle Home for Good

The Coalition hosted another lively and informative General Membership Meeting on Thursday, October 17th at Southside Commons in Columbia City. The energy in the room was palpable as over 50 direct service providers and community advocates came together to help us shape the future of our organization, and to provide insight in the ongoing work we are all engaged in. At our meeting Coalition members provided input on a discussion of the Coalition’s Mission statement, as well as our Vision and Values that are currently being developed. The thoughtful responses and pointed questions were an important reminder of the collective knowledge our members bring to this work – Thank You. Participants also provided valuable input to the Corporation for Supportive Housing to aid their efforts in developing and refining the details of our Regional Action Plan.

Take Action Now: Ask Seattle City Councilmembers to support the Home for Good. The Home for Good program was developed with members and partners of the Coalition, and the proposal is being sponsored by Councilmembers Lorena González and Lisa Herbold. Home for Good will provide a shallow rent subsidy to help people with disabilities who are transitioning from state assistance (primarily through Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) and Aged, Blind, and Disabled (ABD) to federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to prevent people from falling back into homelessness. Read David Kroman’s most recent Crosscut article about the proposal and use this link to Take Action Now and ask councilmembers to include this important program in the City’s budget. We see this as a real opportunity and need YOUR support to get as many supportive messages to councilmembers as possible.

At our meeting we were joined by Julissa Sanchez, South King County organizer with The Tenants Union of Washington who shared the recent Just Cause victory out of Burien. The City of Burien passed historic Just Cause legislation on Monday, October 7th thanks to tireless organizing work from the Tenants Union and renter advocacy organizations. Hear in Julissa’s words how this fight was won, and check out this handout for more information on how to bring the fight for Just Cause to your community.

Check out some other resources we discussed at our meeting, along with an update on our Voter Registration and Education work ahead of the November 5th General Election.

  • Kelsey Mesher with the Transportation Choices Coalition gave us a brief explainer on why the Coalition believes voting No on I-976 is so important to the communities we serve. Slashing billions of dollars meant for needed transportation improvements does not serve our community well, check out the campaign on Facebook for more information
  • Thank you to Debbie Thiele from the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) who led us in a follow up conversation on the continued formation of the Regional Action Plan (RAP). If you have other thoughts to share with Debbie, please email her at debbie.thiele@csh.org (feel free to cc’ Alison@homelessinfo.org so we can track what people are sharing as well).
  • The Coalition shared an alert from King County Public Health regarding a recent spike in fentanyl laced street drugs, both in powder and pressed pill form. Public Health wants to spread the word as far and wide as possible, they are making color printed copies of this information available free of charge to agencies who wish to distribute materials. Request free materials here.

Voter Registration & Work for Tuesday, November 5 General Election

  • Click here to see our Voter Registration Guide for homeless and unstably housed voters (online and downloadable versions).
  • Want to do voter work at your site? Email Hillary for more information and other materials! We want to help you and to know how many folks you help vote.
  • DEADLINES:
    • Monday, October 28 – deadline to register to vote online (state ID needed) or have paper registration form received by elections (can use SSN)
      • Note: if you will be mailing paper registration forms, please mail by Thursday 10/24 to insure that they will arrive to elections on time
      • If you will be turning in forms for people you work with, turn in within 5 days of them being signed to a vote center.  You should also use this cover form. Then let Hillary know how many folks you helped register.
  • Information for people with felony convictions – as long as someone is no longer reporting to DOC they can vote.

Annual Helping Homeless Students: McKinney-Vento 101 Workshop

The Coalition hosted another annual Helping Homeless Students: McKinney-Vento 101 Workshop on Thursday, September 26th as part of our series of Case Manager Trainings. Over 90 direct service providers and community advocates joined us for a three-hour training on the McKinney-Vento Act. Staff from Building Changes, specifically focused on their Schoolhouse Washington project, led the attendees through the basic provisions of the law and helped trainees work through case scenarios common to this work.

A huge thank you to our presenters:

Their presentation included a PowerPoint presentation and collection of small group scenario questions, both of which can be found here.

The 1986 McKinney-Vento Act is a federal law that includes rights and protections for homeless public K-12 students. Decades of social science data shows that students who frequently move schools due to a lack of stable housing have significantly worse outcomes than their peers. The McKinney-Vento Act attempts to address this by providing additional supports to address barriers to success.

The definition of homelessness under the Act is different than definitions used in other social service contexts (it is broader than the HUD definition), which was identified by the presenters as a common source of confusion. The Act defines a student as homeless if that student lacks housing that is:

  • Fixed (stationary, permanent and not subject to change)
  • Regular (Used on a regular, routine or consistent basis)
  • Adequate (sufficient to meeting both the physical and phycological needs typically met within home environments)

This definition includes, but is not limited to, children or youth who are:

  • In shelters or transitional housing;
  • Living in parks, public spaces, vehicles, abandoned buildings, or other places not meant for people to live;
  • Sharing housing (doubled up or couch-surfing) due to loss of housing or economic hardship;
  • Living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or campgrounds due to lack of alternative accommodations;
  • Unaccompanied children or youth (i.e. not in the physical custody of their parents or guardians) who meet the above definition of homelessness.

The presenters stressed that the above terms do not have a legal definition and are applied on a case-by-case basis. In order to facilitate these services, each public-school district under the Act is required to designate at least one staff person as the McKinney-Vento Liaison for that district. The McKinney- Vento Liaison acts as the central point of contact for coordinating services for students. Please review these presentation materials for further information on supports provided through the McKinney-Vento Act.

Below are some additional community resources available to help support homeless students and their families, including a county-wide staff directory and additional legal resources. If you come across issues contacting your district staff liaison, or wish to follow up on additional questions with the event presenters, please send your information and a brief description of your question to info@schoolhousewa.org.  

2019 August 15 General Membership Meeting Wrap-Up

We had a fun and informative general membership meeting on Thursday, August 15th at Southside Commons. State Senator Joe Nguyen from the 34th legislative district spoke about some of the hard fought changes to important public benefits programs. He emphasized that the bills that get passed are the ones that have the most attention and passion behind them, emphasizing the importance of member advocacy. Check out a summary of the 2019 Basic Needs Wins!

TANF and HEN law changes and updates

This was followed by a deep dive into the specifics of these changes led by David Hlebain (Statewide Poverty Action Network), Christine Long-Crossley (Catholic Community Services HEN Program), and Jason Austin (our Coalition’s Membership Organizer). David discussed changes to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program (TANF), a crucially important lifeline that provides a modest amount of cash assistance to families with children living below the poverty line. For years TANF has been difficult to access for many of those who need it the most. Some of the frustrating aspects of the program included a stringent “three strikes” policy, resulting in a lifetime sanction or ban for families who struggled with onerous on-going reporting requirements, and a time-limit that could not be extended regardless of circumstances.

Thanks to legislation championed by hard-working legislators in Olympia and advocated for by Coalition members and partners, families who were previously kicked off TANF are likely eligible again:

If a family was kicked off TANF due to:

  • Sanctions that led them to be permanently disqualified, OR
  • For reaching the 60 month-limit, but a family is currently experiencing homelessness

That family is again eligible for TANF due to these law changes! Please share this flyer and information with families you know who might now be eligible again.

In addition to common sense TANF reform, the recently passed state budget includes exciting changes to the Housing and Essential Needs Program (HEN). HEN provides a rental housing voucher and other support services to those deemed too disabled to work and with no income, and acts as the only assistance for many of the most vulnerable in our region.

After years of not adding additional funding to HEN, the state legislature passed a budget that included an additional $15 million in funding above what it has ever allocated for HEN before. Christine highlighted that while this was short of what the Coalition and other housing advocates requested this investment represents a significant shift in Olympia towards more support for rental voucher programs and will bring thousands of vulnerable adults out of the cold. Details of the housing voucher provided through HEN can be found in this sample enrollment letter. Below are a few key points to know about this program:

What does HEN provide?

  • Housing Payment Assistance: HEN issues monthly rent and utility payment checks of varying amounts depending on details of housing unit (see enrollment letter for more information).
  • Transportation Assistance: Clients are issued either an unlimited ORCA metro public transportation card for King County, or a gas card that provides 10 gallons of gasoline weekly
  • Hygiene Supplies: Once per month, clients may receive a bag full of toiletries and cleaning items; which may include toilet paper, laundry detergent, dental hygiene items etc.
  • Employment Assistance: HEN staff includes a dedicated employment specialist, and works closely with FCS-funded employment services to offer help with job search and job training assistance for interested clients.

What does HEN NOT provide?

  • Housing Placement: HEN does not maintain a list of available apartments, and is unable to place clients directly into housing. This is done intentionally; housing search is something clients need to be actively engaged with as a part of the program. Landlords must accept HEN payment, refusal to do so is a violation of our state’s Source of Income Discrimination Law.
  • Household Furnishings: While third party referrals are made when possible, household items such as furniture and cooking utensils are not offered through the program.

An important reminder, HEN eligibility is determined by the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS). Once you have a HEN approval letter from DSHS, please call 206-328-5755 to enroll for services with Catholic Community Services of King County.

This information has been complied by Coalition staff. For more details on program specifics, please visit the HEN CCS website.

While the improvements are significant, we know that these there is still much work to be done. We closed the meeting by emphasizing the importance of sharing compelling client stories as a key element of fighting for additional funding.

Poverty Action is looking for real life accounts of the difficulty of trying to make it on $197/mo. We believe that we have a strong case to make for increasing the size of the Age, Blind and Disabled cash grant program (ABD), and need your help in making that case to the legislature. You can find more info about sharing stories here.

LEGAL ASSISTANCE: If you or someone you are working with is having an legal issue related to these benefits, Solid Ground provides free legal assistance to connect you with the assistance you are entitled to. More information here in English y también en español.

Updates from Membership Organizations

Emergency Safety Planning service from El Centro de la Raza to protect immigrant families

This is a service provided by El Centro de la Raza for undocumented immigrants in the US at risk of being detained or deported by immigration authorities that help them assign a person they trust to take care of their children and make decisions related to their supervision in the case that one or both of their parents are detained or deported.

Through this service, undocumented people are also oriented on how to protect the assets they acquired in the US if they are at risk of being detained or deported for not having defined their legal status in the country.

If interested,you should call El Centro de la Raza at (206) 717-0089 and set an appointment whenever you find most convenient. Their team of bilingual professionals are ready to serve you.

King County HEP A Update:

A Hepatitis A outbreak was declared by the Washington State Department of Health at the end of July based on multiple cases of hepatitis A in four different counties.  King County has had three confirmed cases in persons living homeless. We want to ensure that you keep aware of the situation, and have information, contacts, and resourcesto helpkeep your staff and those you serve healthy and safe. For more information on how to stay safe and healthy please visit this post from King County’s Helathcare for the Homeless Network.

In addition to this helpful info, King County Public Health is also making on-site vaccine clinics available to agencies and programs who serve the homeless. To request a visit follow the link here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/TMDPS5T

Upcoming Coalition Opportunities

Helping Homeless Students: McKinney-Vento 101 Workshop – September 26

It’s back to school season again, and in the spirit of helping every child have a fighting chance at success the Coalition is once again hosting a Helping Homeless Students: McKinney-Vento 101 workshop. Come learn about what assistance is available to help unhoused children succeed, we will discuss some of key points of the McKinney-Vento Act and how to best take advantage of this assistance. This workshop will be hosted on Thursday, September 26th at South Seattle College Georgetown Campus, 6737 Corson Ave room #C122. Training is free but registration is required. Register today!

Voter Registration & Education Drive for people experiencing homelessness

Help the Coalition register voters this Fall! We work to make sure that people know You Don’t need a House to Vote and will be hosting a voter registration drive in October and November.

Volunteer Orientation with the Coalition is Mandatory prior to volunteering, there are two date options: 

  • Thursday, October 10, 6:00 – 8:00pm at Kent Panther Lake Library, 20500 108th Avenue SE, Kent 98031
  • Monday, October 14, 5:30 – 7:30pm at Columbia City Library, 4721 Rainier Ave S, Seattle, 98118

Volunteers will be trained on the basics of helping people who are experiencing homelessness register to vote, key aspects of filling out the form without a traditional residential address, updates from recent (positive) law changes to increase voting access, the Voting Rights Restoration Act (for people with felony convictions), and more. Sign-up today!

Do you work at a service agency that wants to take part in our Coalition’s community voter registration efforts? We encourage you to attend one of the orientations as well! Email Hillary to let her know if you want to partner.

Lawn Bowling Party & Fundraiser: Saturday, September 14, 5pm – 8pm at Jefferson Park Lawn Bowling Club

Get your tickets now for a wonderful evening ~ a tasty salmon dinner, sunset over Elliott Bay, friendly games, and great conversation with people who care deeply about safety, housing, and justice for people experiencing homelessness. There are lawn bowling lessons for those new to the sport and the possibility of fierce competition once you have mastered your technique. 

Early Bird Tickets $25 | General Admission Tickets $35 starting August 25 (this Sunday)
Tickets available now through Brown Paper Tickets
Suggested donation: $100 – $1,000

Upcoming General Membership Meetings: 

Every 3rd Thursday from 9:00 – 11:00 a.m. at Southside Commons, 3518 S Edmunds St, Seattle, WA 98118 in Columbia City
No registration is required and anyone is welcome to attend. 

Thursday, September 19th
Thursday, October 17th
Thursday, November 21st
Thursday, December 12th, Legislative Preview Meeting (note, 2nd week of December)
Thursday, January 16th 2020
Thursday, February 20th
Thursday, March 19th