We were 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 celebrated several key victories related to voting access, housing, and homelessness. With less than two weeks left in the state legislative session, we highlighted some key policy and budget priorities need your continued advocacy. We rounded 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.
If you have questions about this or need assistance in starting an EBT application, call the Family Food Hotline at 1-888-436-6392 or visit their website www.Wafoodhelp.org. If you would like to request flyers or additional materials for your program, please contact Nelly Evans, Food Security Program Coordinator at United Way of King County.
Limited in-person services are available through DSHS, including the option to pick up EBT cards for select clients. Those eligible for in person EBT services in office are:
- Customers with General Delivery mailing address
- Customers enrolled in the ACP (address confidentiality program)
- ACH (alternate card holders) can pick up with a verified form on file
EBT hours are from 10am-2pm, and by appointment only. Appointments can be made through our contact center: 877-501-2233. All cards are mailed from the local office so should arrive to the customer within 2-3 days (depending on mail service). If the customer has a mailing address on file, the card will be mailed to them (77 S Washington counts as a valid address)
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. The Coalition on Homelessness is partnering with REACH, United Way of King County and other community groups to pair trained volunteers with outreach workers to help people experiencing homelessness claim their stimulus checks. If you are interested in volunteering or have questions, please email Jason.
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
Vaccine Pop-Up Reflections: Shawna McMahon, Executive Director at Immanuel Community Services shared reflections and suggestions from a pop-up vaccine clinic their program hosted in April. Administered by Public Health Seattle King County, ICS hosted this event for clients and staff involved with their overnight shelter program and daytime hygiene center. Shawna shared how effective it was to ask Public Health to set up in two locations: the parking lot outside the facility, as well as inside their hygiene center where clients spend most of their time during the day. This is an example of client-centered approaches to services that met people where they are at, taking advantage of community support to ease vaccine hesitancy expressed by some in the program. Shawna stressed the importance of posting signage for these events with clear, easy to understand phrasing with multiple language options. ICS staff created post-vaccine care kits for their clients and staff to ameliorate vaccine side effects, which included warm clothing for chills, snacks high in natural sugars and Tylenol of body pain. These kits were appreciated enormously, even by those who did not experience strong vaccine side effects.
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 22, stay tuned for further details.
Health Through Housing RFQ: The King County Department of Community and Human Services (DCHS) Housing, Homelessness and Community Development Division (HHCDD) is announcing a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for qualified providers in preparation for the implementation of the Health Through Housing (HTH) initiative.
Health Through Housing intends to develop in the near term 1,600 units of emergency and permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless households. The implementation emergency and permanent supportive housing through HTH will require the following:
- Property management and facility operations.
- Program management and on-site supportive services.
- Targeted homeless street outreach and navigation, and/or culturally specific and community-based services.
The intention of this RFQ is to pre-qualify Applicants into specific categories of support, or Pools, as described in the RFQ
Please find more information and application information for the RFQ, on ZoomGrants here.
A Pre-Application Conference is scheduled, and details are below. Applicants are encouraged to attend, but attendance is not mandatory:
April 20, 2021 | 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 914 2132 7736