Join us this Thursday, April 15 from 9am to 10:30am for our next Coalition Membership Meeting. We will be joined by homeless outreach workers and tax filing experts to discuss efforts to help people experiencing homelessness claim their Economic Impact Payments (AKA stimulus checks). We will take time at our meeting to celebrate several key victories related to voting access, housing, and homelessness. With less than two weeks left in the state legislative session, we will also highlight some key policy and budget priorities need your continued advocacy. We will round out the meeting with timely resource updates, including an upcoming increase in SNAP benefits, tips on how to host a vaccine clinic, and an important community survey for nonprofit direct service staff.
Read on for details, and sign up for our Coalition emails to get regular updates.
Increase in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
Thanks to additional funds made available through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, the maximum amount a SNAP eligible household can receive will increase by 15% starting in April. This is in addition to the supplemental additional funding DSHS has provided since the onset of COVID-19, click here for details. These changes apply to all SNAP recipients, meaning that those receiving SNAP who may have previously only qualified for a small amount are eligible for much more assistance than before. If you are working with a SNAP eligible client who chose not to recertify due to how small of a benefit they were eligible to claim, please encourage them to re-apply to claim this resource. For more information see this flyer.
Stimulus Checks for the Unhoused
If you or someone you work with has yet to claim any or all of their stimulus checks they can do so by filing a 2020 tax return. For tax filing assistance in your community click here.
There have been three rounds of Economic Impact Payments, also known as stimulus payments. The first two rounds have been completed, payments for the third round are ongoing. If someone didn’t receive a first or second round Economic Impact Payment, or got less than the full amount they’re entitled to, they will need to file a 2020 tax return and claim the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit, if eligible, to receive a refund including any stimulus amounts. This is true even if someone has little or no income and is not required to file a federal tax return. Filing a 2020 return will also put someone in the “queue” for the Third Economic Impact Payment if eligible.
In King County, United Way is offering free tax filing assistance to those with simple tax returns (those who made less than 66,000 from earned income or public benefit programs). We encourage case managers working with clients attempting to claim their stimulus checks to submit their information through United Way’s Get My Refund online tool. This will walk you through simple step by step filing instructions, with chat and phone assistance available if any issues occur or any questions arise.
In King County, in-person tax filing assistance is being offered at the Federal Way Multi-Service Center (1200 336th St, Federal Way WA 98003) on a first come, first serve basis. Call 253-838-6810 for details. Tax filing assistance will also be offered at the Seattle Goodwill Training and Education Center (700 Dearborn Pl S) every Tuesday and Friday from 9:30am to 6:30pm (people are encouraged to arrive by 5pm)
- If someone has or can be provided access to the internet, they can use one of the IRS Free-File partners to electronically file a 2020 tax return and claim their credit for free.
- They can file a paper Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR and claim the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit on line 30. The Instructions for Forms 1040 and 1040-SR provide information starting on page 57 on how to calculate and claim the credit. Those without a fixed address may be able to use the address of a local community organization, church or homeless shelter.
Bank On Seattle / King County has a host of resources to help people establish bank accounts and obtain an Economic Impact Payment by direct debit, or to cash an EIP check. It contains information on how to establish a basic account, including a “checkless” account accessed by debit card, and resources for finding a bank that will open an account online. To view additional accessible banking information. click here. For veterans, see the VA’s Veterans Benefits Banking Program (VBBP) page for access to financial services at participating banks. See also, VeteransBenefitsBanking.org.
State Legislative Advocacy
Thanks in part to your advocacy, we’ve had so many incredible policy wins for homelessness and housing justice during this state legislative session. With less than two weeks remaining in this session, we are counting on you to help us pass bills that will help prevent a rise in homelessness and ensure a brighter future for renters going forward. Use this action link from the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance to take action on key bills.
- HB 1277 – Sponsored by Representative Ormsby, this bill will increase our document recording fee (a fee assessed on the sale/purchase of property) by $100 to fund rental assistance, supportive housing, and behavioral health services. This bill was just passed by the Senate Ways & Means Committee– help us ensure it gets to the Floor and that Senators vote yes!
- SB 5160 – Sponsored by Senator Kuderer, this bill ensures a right to counsel for tenants facing eviction and helps landlords and tenants access rental assistance programs for unpaid rent. This bill has had a bad amendment accepted that weaken the bill. Urge your lawmakers to rescind this harmful amendment and to pass the bill out of the legislature.
Speak Up Pop Up Workshop Series: Want to gain and practice advocacy skills and help build a strong community of housing justice advocates? Join us at our Speak Up Pop Ups! These drop-in workshops will occur every Tuesday from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. throughout the legislative session and are open to people of all levels of interest and experience with legislative advocacy. You do not have to attend all the workshops, but we invite participants to attend multiple session to help you learn and practice advocacy skills, build a community of housing justice advocates, and ensure sustained momentum throughout the legislative session. Click here to register.
Coalition Member Updates
Tenants Union Stay Housed Stay Health Campaign: Coalition allies The Tenants Union of Washington State are organizing with the Stay Housed Stay Healthy campaign to build tenant power and fight evictions. The goal of this campaign is to enact strong tenant protection laws in Seattle and King County to counter displacement when the temporary statewide eviction moratorium is eventually lifted. Learn more about what the campaign hopes to accomplish here. If your organization wants to join the campaign, you can do so here. The first goal of the campaign is to pass a package of tenant protection proposals through the King County Council, being introduced by King County Councilmembers Girmay Zahilay and Jeanne Kohl-Welles. This legislation will be discussed at an April 26 committee meeting. To learn more about the proposal and add your organization as a supporter click here.
Recovery Café Resource Connection Day: Coalition member Recovery Café is hosting a monthly Resource Connection Day open to everyone. Recovery Café provides resources and peer support services to those traumatized by homelessness, addiction, and other mental health challenges. Resource Connection Day is held at their office near South Lake Union (2022 Boren Ave) and offers a variety of services including COVID testing, peer support, physical and mental health resources, and basic needs assistance. Coalition staff will be there to help people register to vote. Their next event is on Wednesday April 21 from 12:30 to 2:30pm, click here for more information.
Financial Empowerment Training for Service Providers: Hopelink invites you to attend the next installment in their Financial Empowerment Series: Dealing with Debt, on Wednesday, April 28th from 11:00am to 12:00pm, click here to register. This upcoming training will focus on teaching providers how to help their clients navigate issues related to debt management. This is part of a series that examines tools from the Your Money / Your Goals toolkit in more detail, thought you do not need to have attended prior sessions to fully participate in this training. You can review prior financial empowerment training here, and for additional financial empowerment resources check out these videos: Videos to spark action!
Coalition Staff Updates
Membership Drive 2021: The Coalition on Homelessness is a membership-driven organization. We rely on the support and engagement from roughly 60 direct service and housing advocacy organizations to make our work in the community possible. We suspended our 2020 membership drive due to COVID-19 and asked our community partners to consider adding Coalition dues into their 2021 budget. An enormous thank you to the 23 organizations who have paid or pledged their 2021 membership. If you believe your organization needs to be added to the list, please reach out to Jason Austin, Membership Organizer or Aline Carton-Listfjeld, Operations Director.
King County Provider Wage and Benefits Survey: Funded by the King County Veterans, Seniors and Human Service Levy, this survey is meant to capture an accurate snapshot of wages, benefits and working conditions of nonprofit and direct service staff in King County. This survey comes in two parts: Part one is collecting detailed information on wages and benefits and should be filled out by someone at your agency familiar with compensation and benefits such as an Executive Director, Human Resources staff or a Finance Manager. This survey is live and due by May 2, click here to learn more.
The second survey is for all direct service staff and offers the ability to provide feedback on non-wage and salary workplace conditions. This is a crucial opportunity for our community to use our collective voice to speak to what is and is not working well within our profession. That survey will be available starting April 6, stay tuned for further details.