April 21st General Membership Meeting & Legislative Debrief

Key Issues from the 2022 Washington Legislative Session

Thank you to our legislative champions on homelessness and housing for joining our April General Membership meeting and sharing insights into all their hard work this past session.

Representative Nicole Macri (LD43) shared with us some details around the workforce budget proviso that includes 55 million for worker relief and stabilization in the homeless service sector. 20,000 WA State workers will be helped with these stipends. The Department of Commerce will contract with providers to provide the stipends, in the amount of $2000 per worker, if programs receive public dollars. The proviso also includes an element of retention, where if a someone is employed at the same place for six month, they would be eligible for a second stipend. The state will also study the issue of workforce stability to see what role it can play to ensure appropriate compensation for workers.

We’ll be providing regular updates about how people can access these stipends at our meetings, and opportunities to help shape the study that will be conducted. You can read the proviso language about the workforce stipends are on page116 of this budget document.

A huge thank you to Representative Strom Peterson (LD21) for being the primary sponsor of HB 2075, the DSHS Access bill, he shared great insight into all the work that many of us put into making this bill pass both the House and Senate with overwhelming bi-partisan support. He also spoke about the disappointing news that HB 2075 was vetoed by the Governor a few weeks ago. Read the Coalition’s full response here.

Representative Frank Chopp (LD43) discussed Apple Health & Homes, HB1866, which received strong bipartisan support. Five significant goals of the act include:

  • Treating chronic homelessness as a medical condition
  • Investing in preventative services and reducing costs to local emergency systems
  • Creating more supportive housing statewide
  • Expanding the capacity of supportive housing providers
  • Ensuring oversight and accountability through the Office of Health and Homes

Read Representative Chopp’s press release to learn more about this new program that aims to reduce chronic homelessness by connecting health care and housing.

Senator Claire Wilson (LD30) discussed the work of the Senate Human Services Committee and her bill, SB 5793, which is not only a way to make sure low income people, people with lived experiences of many kinds, can serve on commissions – it also corrects the previous PROHIBITION against paying people stipends for serving.

Report out from The Mockingbird Society the priorities and successes related to youth and young adults.

  • HB 1905 sponsored by Rep. Sen is a large bill that does lots of things including requiring the Office of Youth Homeless to have a rapid response team to support youth exiting public systems of care like the juvenile legal system, child welfare, and inpatient behavioral health. It includes flexible funding for local jurisdictions to support the unique housing needs of youth and expands a pilot that identifies youth at risk or in homelessness who are existing the juvenile legal system. The bill was fully funded with 5 million dollars. 
  • Bill 5566 from Rep. Kuderer, expands eligibility to independent youth housing program, gives young people using foster care more access to housing, now open to any young person ages 18-24 with any history of foster care.

Report from Statewide Poverty Action includes:

  • ABD: This year, for the first time, we saw an increase in the cash grant for the Aged, Blind, Disabled (ABD) program! In the past, monthly payments were only $197, but will now be $417 for one person. This amount will start going out this September, and currently has parity with other cash assistance programs for one person (namely, TANF).  
  • TANF: Although we weren’t able to accomplish everything we were hoping to this year, there was still a lot of good progress on the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.
  • Families with children under 3 will now have a small cash grant increase (~$70) to help pay for diapers (SB5838). This will start November 1, 2023.
  • Through the budget, we were able to help make sure that folks who still need help can still access it. The funding will add one more year to the extension that prevents people who are still eligible and meeting program requirements from being cut off due to time limits. We had hoped to pass a bill that would make this permanent (HB 2048), but it did not pass this year.
  • Bigger families who receive TANF will now be able to receive the full grant amount! Previously, a family of 8 was the max, but this has been moved up to 10. This will go into effect this July.
  • Dental Therapy: Unfortunately, we were unable expand access to dental care by passing the bill that would have allowed Dental Therapy to be practiced throughout the state. We are disappointed not to have seen stronger progress in this area, but we’ll try again next year!

Member Updates & Announcements

Catholic Community Services’ Workforce Development Team is piloting educational programs to build the knowledge and skills needed to work in housing and shelter programs. Our programs are particularly focused on recruiting participants with lived experience in homelessness, poverty, and/or systematic racism. We are currently recruiting for two programs this summer quarter:

  1. With Highline College, the Housing and Shelter Maintenance Technician certificate is for clients or entry-level staff who want to become Maintenance Technicians in housing and shelter facilities. The 19-credit certificate takes 2 quarters to complete. For more information, please fill out the interest form or email Lizzy Paulson, epaulson@ccsww.org Markai H – mhernandez@ccsww.org 
  2. With Seattle Central College, the ASSET Scholars program is for current front-line staff seeking career advancement. The program offers a supported entry to college with one 5-credit course in Social & Human Services that can be applied toward certificate or degree programs. This could include the Case Management certificate that CCS and Seattle Central are developing, which will be piloted in the Fall of 2022. For more information, please fill out the interest form or email Markai Hernandez: mhernandez@ccsww.org.  

Immanuel Community Services (ICS) is Hiring: Join the ICS team and serve our neighbors experiencing hunger and homelessness in downtown Seattle. ICS cares for the most vulnerable in our community through our four programs: food bank, clean & sober homeless shelter for men in IOP, meal program, and hygiene/day center. Currently, we are hiring a full-time:

Washington Low Income Housing Alliance (WLIHA) has a Behavioral Health & Housing Survey, closes 6/30/22. Looking for input from people with lived experience, service providers, and housing providers. Questions? Please contact John Stovall at johns@wliha.org.

Register for the May 19th Annual Membership Meeting