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

HEP A Immunization and Other Resources for Preventing a Major Outbreak

Public Health – Seattle and King County continues to expand its campaign to prevent a major Hepititis A outbreak among people living homeless.  We are also expanding our collaboration with homeless services providers to quickly and urgently build awareness for staff and clients about the most important steps that we can collectively and immediately take.  PLEASE share this message and attachments widely within your organization—from executive leaders to program managers to supervisors to front line staff.  And please ensure that the flyers we are including a widely posted.

Flyers to share and reference:

Here are some specific updates that relate to the attached flyers

  1. The list of walk-in, low-barrier sites for homeless residents to receive a Hep A vaccination has expanded.  These flyers provide information on the current sites: Here are 3 flyers that provide the current sites: one for Seattle, one for South King County, and one for East King County.
  2. Reducing the risk of Hep A (and other highly contagious diseases) spreading at shelters and other service sites requires that ALL SITES create and implement a routine cleaning schedule that includes certain disinfection protocols.  So Public Health has created the flyer: Guidelines for Routine Cleaning and Disinfection
    • Note that the routine cleaning practices outlined in the new flyer are different from the much more intensive response that is required at any site has been notified by Public Health that a person with infectious Hep A has likely visited the site.  We have created the Final Hep A Clean Up flyer with instructions for the more intensive clean up.  (Both flyers include specific instructions on safely cleaning/disinfecting when there is vomit or diarrhea present.)
  3. In addition to sharing/following the instructions contained in the routine cleaning flyer and Hep A clean up flyer, homeless service provider agencies can help prevent a major outbreak by making sure staff and clients are aware of the following critical information about cleaning and hygiene:
    • Basic cleaning and hygiene helps prevent the spread of hepatitis A. We recommend that all shelters do the following:
      • Provide convenient handwashing stations with soap, warm running water, and paper towels
      • Ensure all toilets have toilet paper
      • Create, implement, and post a regular cleaning schedule:
        • Hourly: check that bathrooms are stocked with toilet paper, towels, and that warm water is functioning
        • Daily: Clean and sanitize all bathroom surfaces that are regularly touched using soap and water, commercial cleaning spray, and a paper towel, or cleaning wipes
        • If there is vomit, diarrhea or blood, or if you know someone with hep A was at your shelter:
          • Follow full cleaning and disinfection guidelines (see factsheet)
          • Remind staff/volunteers that good hand hygiene is one of the most effective steps in preventing hepatitis A and many other infectious diseases. Consider posting hand washing signage at all sinks. Hand washing should always occur after going to the bathroom, handling laundry, and cleaning, and before eating, drinking, or smoking. Hand sanitizers can be stocked but they are not effective against hepatitis A virus and should not replace regular handwashing.

Thank you for your help in spreading this information and collaborating with Public Health to do all we can do together to prevent an outbreak.  FYI…Check out a Real Change article in 5/1/2019’s edition that provides an overview of these efforts and also lists immunization locations:

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. 

Packed Public Benefits 101 Training at Washington Hall

Yesterday almost one hundred homeless service providers from across King County packed Washington Hall in Seattle’s Central District to learn more about state DSHS benefits available to their clients. Lead by dynamic attorneys Sara Robbins and Katie Scott from Solid Ground’s Public Benefits Assistance Program, the training covered the recent changes to the HEN program and TANF, as well as Food Assistance, ABD, Medicare Savings Program, and more.  Asking for help is hard, and that is something folks that are experiencing homelessness have to do many, many times a day. Receiving help is easier when the person you’re asking is knowledgeable about the answers and can get you what you need, and that’s why we were grateful so many service providers took time out of their busy schedules to learn the ins and outs of DSHS. Did you know about Equal Access Plans (EAP), that are available for DSHS client’s with disabilities and can alter DSHS requirements to ensure barriers are reduced for people who need extra support maintaining benefits? Neither did myself or most of the people in the room yesterday, but now there are hundreds of people experiencing homelessness across King County that will benefit from their case manager knowing they can request an EAP for them to help them get and keep their DSHS benefits.

Although at the Seattle/King County Coalition we knew there was a demand for this kind of practical, real-world information that is crucial to the day-to-day lives of people experiencing homelessness, even we were surprised when the training filled up in a few days and the eventual waitlist of over fifty. This showed us the urgent need for more trainings of this kind, and we already have several in the works for the upcoming months – sign up on our website to be the first to now about new trainings before they fill up. Due to the demand there will also be a second, slightly condensed Public Benefits 101 training from 9 am -11:30 am next Wednesday, May 2nd at the South King County Forum on Homelessness monthly meeting. Registration is available on our website.

Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day Reflection

We arrived at the Coalition office bright and early at 6:30 AM to get everyone on our HHADvocacy Express Bus. We had friends from Real Change News, Compass Housing Alliance, Low Income Housing Institute, and [please list all other orgs]! We passed around breakfast croissants and oranges while Hillary gave us an overview of the bills we were going to be talking to our legislators about and the basics of advocacy and the legislative process.

The red scarves we picked up in Olympia showed we were all on the same team – the housing and homelessness advocacy team!  The Washington Low Income Housing Alliance showed us how to send a mass text to our legislators to let them know that hundreds of people were showing up for housing and homelessness.  Afterward, we split off to a number of interesting workshops.  The one I attended was about how to use social media to reach out and educate people.  We learned some useful tips on how to use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to get our message to the most people possible.

From there we gathered with our districts. In my own district, the 46th, I met several people whose stories were so necessary for our legislators – Senator Frockt, Representative Pollet, and Representative Valdez – to hear.  There was a group of women who lived in manufactured homes, who owned their homes but not the land they were on.  The landowners decided they want to sell that land, leaving these residents, most of whom are seniors and disabled, facing homelessness.  I met a group of trans and gender-nonconforming people who had experienced homelessness, and when confronted with the lack of resources, decided to open their home to homeless trans people.  I met a young woman with the Mockingbird Society, whose childhood homelessness led to her being placed in foster care.

Unfortunately, Senator Frockt and Representative Valdez were unable to speak to us, due to the busy legislative session. We spoke to their aides and to Representative Pollet, who was able to make an appearance.  Our representatives had so many bills to look at that they definitely appreciated us bringing certain ones to their attention.  While all of them were on board with our legislative priorities, our support helps them push these bills forward.  The stories that we shared reminded our legislators why housing and homelessness issues are so important, and gave them real people to keep in mind while they fought for our bills on the house or senate floor.

After our meeting, I delivered our huge stack of over 450 advocacy postcards to each legislator’s office and then went to watch HB 2578, banning Source of Income Discrimination, pass in the House Committee!

We got back to Seattle around 6:00. It was a long day, but a fun and educational experience.  It was great to talk with other advocates and hear their stories and share strategies on how to make change happen.  Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day was such a cool way to see democracy in action!


I am revisiting this after the legislative session has ended, and every bill that we advocated has passed and been signed by the governor. When you’re up early in the morning piling people onto a bus, or scurrying around legislative offices delivering a handful of postcards here and there, I think it can be difficult to see what all that hard work is building to.  Our successes in this legislative session prove how worth it all of this is.  Our meetings with our district legislators were so valuable – a big part of advocacy is making sure our legislators are educated on the bills we want to pass and why they are so important.  Legislators are people just like us, with limited time and space in their minds for the thousands of bills they need to keep track of.  Our job is to tell them which ones are the priority, and clearly they heard us.

It is so fascinating to witness every step of the democratic process, from the advocacy stage to seeing a bill pass in the House, to seeing bills being signed by Governor Inslee. It’s also a reminder of the importance of voting, and by extension, the importance of our work registering homeless people to vote.  It MATTERS who our legislators are.  If we didn’t have the majority this year, so much of this could not have happened.

Looking back on this really puts everything in perspective.  Thank you so much to all of the people who helped us get here!

November 16, 2017 General Membership Meeting Summary

IMPORTANT UPDATES:

Veterans, Seniors, and Human Services Levy – WE WON!  Voters passed the VSHS levy by almost 70%!  Thank you to everyone who helped get this levy passed!
The VSHSL will continue funding the services it did in 2017 through 2018.  For this first year, at least 50% of the levy will be spent on housing stability, which is broadly defined.
Take this survey and attend input sessions to help create this definition.

NOTE>>>I’m not sure what we were talking about with “HDC supporting Executive’s transition plan.  Council and RPC have lots of decision-making power…

Seattle Budget Advocacy – It has been phenomenal to see the turnout of passionate advocates at the City Council budget hearings!  To keep this momentum going, we need EVERYONE to show up at City Hall on Monday, November 20, at 2PM.

Even though the H.O.M.E.S. tax was voted down, the majority of council members support an employee head tax that goes toward homelessness.  Council members Gonzales and O’Brien are putting together a resolution for Monday to create a task force for an employee head tax.  This resolution needs to pass!

NOTE>>>This is all outdated now.  Should I still write something about Seattle budget advocacy, or just cut all of this?

December 14 Legislative Preview and Annual Member Meeting! — Our December 14 meeting will combine our traditional legislative preview with state electeds and our advocacy partners with our FIRST Annual Member Meeting! (register at www.homelessinfo.org).  Feel free to bring a resident or colleague!

Let us know:
1.  What do King County legislators need to know about your program, services, and experiences to do their best work in Olympia in 2018?
2.  What questions do you have for elected officials?
3.  How will you engage your clients, guests, residents, coworkers, Board members, volunteers, and neighbors who are speaking up during the 2018 Legislative Session?

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:

Introducing Maggie Malone, the Coalition’s Summer Intern

Hi all,

My name is Maggie Malone, current summer intern at the Coalition on Homelessness, primarily working with Project Cool. I am extremely excited to be a part of the team and hope I can use the knowledge I gain through this experience to better support and advocate for people who are homeless in King County.

I am currently entering my Sophomore year at Gonzaga University, where I intend to earn a bachelors degree in Human Physiology. I like music, travelling, hanging out with friends, running, and playing with my dog. I am originally from Seattle and it is very important to me that I take care of my home.

IMG_0312

I first heard of the Coalition through a family friend who volunteers for Project Cool each year with his coworkers. Project Cool especially sparked my interest because I saw it as a hands-on opportunity to give homeless students the preparedness and confidence to be able to get an education, which I wanted to be a part of. There is so much more to Project Cool than filling up backpacks. The form of advocacy that Project Cool exhibits, allows education to flourish and expands the horizon of support systems. I wanted to join the Coalition because it provides the chance to support a vulnerable population and enlighten others on how they can participate.

This summer, I will be coordinating Project Cool donation drop-off/pick-up sites, managing volunteer events, and providing general support for the Coalition’s database, website, social media, and fundraisers.

 

If you would like to get involved with Project Cool, here is what you can do:

  • Register to volunteer. Backpack filling days are July 14-21.
  • Host a school supply drive or fundraiser. Email us at projectcool@homelessinfo.org for tips and suggestions, or take a look at our 2017 Wish List
  • Donate to Project Cool securely online.
  • Tell your friends!

 

Autistic Insights from the Justice Leadership Program

I have been working as an intern at the Coalition as part of the Justice Leadership Program (JLP) since September. My other work in the program is to support the social justice outreach of the congregation of Prospect United Church of Christ. In the past 9 months in that role I’ve been to many church meetings, organized forums on nonpartisan ballot initiatives and homelessness, discussed morality with my representatives in Washington DC during Ecumenical Advocacy Days, and most recently – gave a sermon about existing authentically in church and society as an autistic agnostic queer human.

I preface every conversation I have about the program by explaining that I did not join the program because of the church aspect of it – the intentional community aspect and the opportunity to work for an organization like the Coalition are what appealed to me initially. The pulpit was not where I expected to be but I’m glad that I had the opportunity to talk to my congregation about some aspects of the autistic experience.

My supervisors here at the Coalition asked me to highlight a few key points from my sermon that pertain most to the people involved in our work. Early on in my sermon I defined autism, I specifically defined it in terms of differences instead of deficits because autism isn’t an inherently bad thing

Autism is a developmental disability in which our brains develop differently than those of the 98% of people who aren’t on the spectrum. The different ways the autistic brain develops affects our language and communication, cognition, sensory processing, motor control, and social behaviors. 

I went on to explain that autism is disabling because our society is not designed to work for autistic peopleA lot of our problems come from the ostracization that happens when we fail to intuitively grasp and follow the unwritten social rules of our society. Our marginalization is a major contributing factor to some worrying statistics:

  • My life expectancy is 16 years shorter than that of my non-autistic peers. If I had an intellectual disability it would be 30 years shorter.
  • The leading cause of death for autistic people like me, who don’t have intellectual disabilities, is suicide – we attempt suicide at a rate 28 x that of our nonautistic peers.

When I read the studies behind those statistics I wasn’t surprised. I have a lot of friends who are also on the spectrum and all of us have chronic health problems that are influenced by stress, all of us have depression, all of us have attempted suicide at least once. It’s obvious from my lived experiences and stories that I’ve heard from others that these problems are an effect of the common view of autism/autistic traits – which is that this is the wrong way to exist. Near the end of my sermon I explain that:

It is assumed that we are broken for not communicating the way that you do and that our goal in life should be to become more like you. Autistic people like me who can pass as nonautistic are constantly working to adapt to your social expectations. I am nearly constantly evaluating my body language and behaviors in relation to the rules I have in place for social interaction in different situations. 22 years of experience has taught me that if I deviate too far from the norm people will assume I’m unintelligent, my ideas won’t be taken seriously, and I will be scorned and avoided. And I’m one of the lucky ones, because not all of us can adapt to your norms. Not all of us can pretend to be normal long enough to land or keep jobs that we’re qualified for, for police to trust that we’re not a danger, for our medical concerns to be taken seriously, or to experience acceptance that doesn’t feel like one of those TV show episodes where we’re a life lesson for the cast regulars.

I concluded with the following tips for non-autistic people who want society to be a little bit better for autistic people:

  • Recognize that your assumptions are based in your experiences and perceptions of the world and that they aren’t universal – what comes naturally to you, especially in terms of body language, eye contact and speech patterns, does not come intuitively to everyone. Things like flapping your hands or not making normative amounts of eye contact aren’t hurting anyone and should be an accepted way of being.
  • When you’re planning events or meetings, think about how accessible the environment is beyond basic mobility and sound access. We process our environment differently than you do.Try to limit loud sudden sounds, intense smells (perfumes are the easiest to avoid), and touching without asking and waiting for a response.
  • Different people have different needs, ask what those are. 
  • Acknowledge that our thoughts and opinions have as much value as anyone elses.
  • Recognize that written or typed or otherwise nonverbal types of communication are as valuable as verbal communication.
  • Give us time to gather our thoughts and respond during conversations. People think and communicate at different speeds and taking longer to get things out of our mouths or fingertips does not invalidate what we’re saying.
  • Get to know the weird people in your life. Ask us about ourselves, our struggles, and our triumphs and truly listen even if the answers you get are unexpected. 

You can read the full sermon at this link.