We are grateful to each presenter for sharing their time and passion with us at our September 17 Membership meeting, and to all who shared questions and insight. Thank you to all those listed below for providing content for our meeting:
- Omar Cuevas Vega, Community Organizer with Statewide Poverty Action Network
- Christina Wong, Government Relations Director at Northwest Harvest
- Emily Goodright, Case Manager at Hopelink
- Whitney Whittemore, Program Manager at Y Social Impact Center
- Erin McCann, Deputy Director at Legal Council for Youth and Children
- Joy Scott, Community Services Manager at City of Auburn
- Cory Walster, Community Organizer at Civil Survival
- Rachel Koller, Resource Specialist at Recovery Cafe
- Kelsey Mesher, Advocacy Director at Transportation Choices Coalition
- Jessyca Murphy, Student Community Manager at Path with Art
Below is a summary of some of the topics that we will discussed at our Thursday, September 17 Membership Meeting. This post will be updated as additional meeting materials are collected.
Washington Dental Access Campaign
Statewide Poverty Action Network (SPAN) has launched its Washington Dental Access Campaign to bring dental therapy to communities in need. Dental therapists are primary oral health care providers that deliver routine preventive and restorative care to those who need it most. Dental therapists are critical to expanding access to dental care where it is most out of reach, providing timely, quality care to rural, low-income communities and communities of color, and to patients who have coverage through Apple Health or are uninsured. Click here to learn more.
Dental therapists were recently authorized to work in select tribal communities. Community dental health advocates are pushing to extend this authorization statewide to bring much needed dental care to communities in need. Click here to support the campaign, and use this organizational sign on form to add your organization to the list of supporters. And click here to view a media toolkit you can use to get the word out to your community.
Community Nutrition Update
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has signed a waiver allowing for the extension of summer meal programs into the remainder of 2020. This means that schools and community-based organizations that sponsor summer meal programs may continue to do what they stated last spring: feed any child (age 0-18) for free, regardless of what school they attend, or whether they are enrolled in school at all. Meal programs do not have to verify a child’s name, school of origin or household income. USDA had already extended waivers that allow schools to provide multiple meals at one time and allow adults to pick up meals without their children present. Nutrition advocates applaud this decision and are pushing for the USDA to extend this rule change through the end of the 2020-21 school year. Click here to add your organization to a sign-on letter in support of this, and use this call script to tell your representative to prioritize child nutrition in the next COVID-19 relief package.
BUT – None of these changes are a full substitute for enrolling school age children into meals programs. Because schools are now able to offer free meals to all kids using the Summer Meals waivers, it will be a challenge for families to remember they need to do this. Make sure the families you serve and work with complete a 2020-21 school meal application with their local school district. Click here to find enrollment information for your district.
Financial Empowerment Series Preview
Following our July 30 Financial Empowerment Workshop, the Coalition on Homelessness and Hopelink are offering a series of monthly mini-trainings to further explore the Your Money, Your Goals (YMYG) toolkit. We plan to take a closer look at each topic, with an eye towards creating space to share experiences using the Toolkit with those you serve. We will start this series by introducing the YMYG Toolkit and focus on how to discuss finances with clients. Register here for the first session on Wednesday, September 30 from 10:30 to 11:30am.
Upcoming Training Dates:
- September 30, 2020: How to Discuss Finances
- October 28, 2020: Setting Goals
- December 2, 2020: Saving
- January 27, 2021: Tracking income & benefits
Voting Rights in a Pandemic
The November election is two months away, a good time to remind people that you do not need a house to vote! We will be joined by Recovery Cafe to hear about their experience offering voter registration during this time, and hear from Civil Survival about efforts to enact voting right restoration legislation in Washington. Check out our remote voter registration materials here, then join us on Thursday to learn more.
Civil Survival and the Washington Voting Rights Restoration Coalition are looking to collect stories and quotes from those who have been disenfranchised (deprived of the right to vote) due to felony convictions in an effort to ensure all voices are heard in the advocacy process. Currently, there are thousands of people in Washington state who are living and working in our communities but are unable to vote and participate in our democracy because of a felony conviction, even though they are no longer incarcerated. For more information, click here to fill out their survey or contact Roxana Gomez at email@example.com
Civil Survival also previewed a five-part webinar series on vacating your conviction record to celebrate National Expungement Week. Webinars run September 21 through September 25, click here to register.
Young Adult Eviction Prevention: The Y Social Impact Center is offering up to three months of rent assistance for young adults ages 18-24 who live in King County. Click here for more information, or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Start your application here
Child Nutrition and Back to School: You can review our back to school support information here, including a list of all King County McKinney-Vento Liaisons for the 2020-21 school year. A recording of our Helping Homeless Students info session, along with a copy of all materials discussed, have been uploaded to our website which can be viewed here.
Virtual Arts Programming: Path with Art is interested in bringing remote enrichment opportunities to homeless service programs in King County. Please complete this interest form for more information.
The Coalition on Homelessness is partnering with Transportation Choices Coalition and other mobility justice champions to host an Interactive Storytelling Workshop. Proposed cuts to transit service loom large as the COVID recession continues. We must keep transit rider stories front and center to maintain support for transit service to maintain this critical community lifeline. We hope you will join us Wednesday, September 30 at 9am, click here to register.
As part of our commitment to transit equity, we are joining with our community partners to call on Sound Transit to decriminalize their fare enforcement procedures. Failure to properly pay fare on Sound Transit services can result in Court-issued fines, debt collection and criminal charges. These policies trap marginalized communities in cycles of poverty and lead to unnecessary stress and harm, as well as costs to taxpayers. Fare non-payment should never be an entry to the criminal-legal system or lead to interactions with law enforcement. Sound Transit’s board will be considering some proposed reforms to the agency’s fare enforcement program, including adding an extra warning and lowering the amount of the fine. While these are positive steps, the proposals don’t go nearly far enough. Please take a moment to email the Sound Transit leadership and board using this action link, urging them to divorce fare enforcement entirely from policing and the court system.
The 2020 Census is underway, and under attack. The Federal Government is threatening to intentionally not include all residents in the final reported count, and the deadline for data collection has been arbitrarily shortened from October 31 to September 30. Both of these actions have been temporarily blocked by the courts, making it more important than ever to help those you work with complete the Census as soon as possible.
For those without a traditional address, the census will be conducting Service Based Enumeration to survey people at locations such as overnight shelter programs and meal sites from September 22 to September 24. If you work for a program that provides services to people experiencing homelessness, and you have not been contacted by the Census Bureau, email Micaella Verro with United Way King County to get connected with Census operations staff. And check out these tips for helping the people you service complete the census form.
The Census can be completed one of two ways:
- Online: https://2020census.gov
- Households would have had a Census ID mailed to them, but if someone does not have one because they don’t have a residential location or they no longer have the code, they can say that they don’t have a Census ID and still fill out the census
- There will be a check box for “I do not have a street address” and then a question asking if someone was experiencing homelessness on April 1, 2020. After that people can provide a description of where they were staying, or a city.
- Phone: 844-330-2020 – language support available in other languages – help someone find their language number to call by going to 2020census.gov and clicking How to Respond, or go to https://2020census.gov/en/ways-to-respond/responding-by-phone.html
HUD Emergency Shelter Rule
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is proposing modifications to the 2016 Equal Access Rule that would allow discrimination against transgender and gender non-conforming people seeking access to shelter through HUD-funded services. The proposed change would give local shelter providers the ability to deny services arbitrarily based on physical appearance, rather than how clients self-report their identity. This will have dire consequences for members of the LGBTQ+ community, especially trans and gender non-conforming people experiencing homelessness. We support the efforts of the Housing Saves Lives Coalition to push back against this proposed change. Click here to send a unique, personalized comment to HUD by Tuesday September 22.