Membership Meeting – July 18th, 2024

Welcome Back, Members! As we wade into our summers, the Coalition on Homelessness exists to provide the resources and connections you need to serve our unhoused neighbors and take care of yourself! This month, we discussed: Sun Bucks Application has Lanuched! Sun Bucks (AKA Summer EBT) launched this year, allocating benefits of $120 to as many as 550,000 Washingtonian students who are eligible for free or reduced lunch. Need more information on Sun Bucks? Review our Annual Membership Meeting recording or visit the DSHS Sun Bucks website. We want to remind you that many families don’t need to apply for Sun Bucks if they receive state benefits or have applied for their school district’s school meals program. Many families may still need to apply, such as those who are not citizens and therefore not on public benefits – and can do so via the newly launched application website. Families can receive benefits summer benefits by applying before August 31st, 2024. Hear from Troy directly on our meeting recording. Not sure if you need to apply? Call the SUN Bucks Contact Center at 833-543-3230 (TTY: 1-800-833-6348) between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday–Friday (except observed holidays). Telebup Hotline Overview As we know, far too many people lose their lives to overdose in King County, particularly due to opioids like fentanyl. Access to treatment like buprenorphine can treat cravings and prevent withdrawals, and most importantly keep people alive. According to Dr. Chris Buresh, medication-assisted treatment like bupreorphine “can buy a person bandwidth to live their lives. They can apply jobs, access housing, and achieve other goals.” Jody Rauch, our resident public health nurse, lauded the existence of a free hotline to access treatment for opioid use disorder, saying “this would have been an incredible resource when I was [delivering direct service]”. A …

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Public Benefits are Key! Food Benefits – June 27th, 2024

Welcome Back to Public Benefits are Key! Thanks for joining our Public Benefits are Key Training on Food Benefits, led by the experts from Solid Ground’s Benefits Legal Assistance Team: In this training, the Benefits Legal Assistance team covered: Do you have questions about your client or comrade’s public benefits? Reach out to Solid Ground’s Ask a Lawyer Program by emailing benefitslegalhelp[at]solid-ground[dot]org (include “ask a lawyer” in the subject line) or calling 206-694-6742. Replacement of Stolen EBT Benefits In recent years, more attention has been brought to the nuisance of EBT card ‘skimming’, where a person will alter a store’s point-of-sale card swipers with the intent of copying someone’s EBT card information and stealing a EBT card holder’s food benefits. Recently, DSHS has launched a method to report card skimming for reimbursement. If a person’s card is skimmed, they must report it within 30 days of discovering the theft by: Note that there is not a set timeline of when to expect a reimbursement, which may take several weeks to process. What Types of Food Benefits are Available? For Whom? For many in Washington, SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), also called Washington Basic Food or food stamps, is available for low-income households and those who fit citizenship requirements, such as: Washington also offers the FAP (State Food Assistance Program) for certain Washingtonians who are not citizens but meet income requirements for SNAP, such as DACA recipients and others classified as ‘legal immigrants’. Households of people with fixed citizenship statuses can receive both SNAP and FAP. *NOTE that those who are undocumented or visiting Washington on a VISA are not eligible for SNAP or FAP benefits. For a full breakdown of those eligible for SNAP or FAP, see the below decision tree: It is also important to note that SNAP or FAP benefit access does affect public charge rule determination, a process that the …

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Membership Meeting – June 20th, 2024

Welcome Back, Members! Happy summer, and thank you for joining us on June 20th for our monthly Membership Meeting. This month, we discussed the statewide application for Summer EBT food benefits (AKA Sun Bucks). We also heard from the King County Regional Homelessness Authority’s Ombuds Office about how they can help providers and unhoused people navigate the homelessness response system and resolve issues. Read on for a summary of what we learned, or watch the training on the Coalition’s YouTube channel.  Summer EBT Updates Summer EBT, or SUN Bucks, is a new benefit launching this summer that will provide $120 per eligible child each summer. This benefit is uniquely accessible to undocumented Washingtonians and other non-citizens. An estimated 550,000 children will be eligible. The program includes those already on SNAP, TANF, or opted into SD’s school meals program automatically – if this is you, no action is required. For others: While the application is not yet live, we learned that applicants will SOON be able to call to apply!  SUN Bucks Contact Center – Call 1-833-543-3230 between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm (PST) Monday – Friday.   Once the application goes live, we will share it via our newsletter and give a presentation on how to access the benefit with a DSHS rep at our next General Membership Meeting on July 18 – register for our next meeting at this link.  You can access their Summer EBT Outreach Toolkit or visit the DSHS Website for more information. KCRHA Ombuds Office Ombudsmen Em Ishiki and Merylin Castelan gave us an overview of how their new, independent office serves community members serviced by KCRHA-contracted shelters and providers. The Ombuds Office’s primary function is to help mitigate challenges, investigate issues experienced by people experiencing homelessness, and provide information for service providers at KCRHA-contracted agencies. …

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Annual Membership Meeting – May 16th, 2024

Welcome Back, Members! It’s that time again – time for our Annual Membership Meeting, where you will get the same valuable community updates and announcements, along with an introduction to this year’s Board candidates and a celebratory overview of some of our most impactful work. Summer EBT aka “Sun Bucks” Those who worked with families receiving Pandemic EBT will recognize this program, now known as Summer EBT or “Sun Bucks”. This supplementary food benefit can be accessed by any family with a K-12 student who is eligible for free or reduced-price school meals. This benefit works like food stamps and can be accessed through an EBT card (different than those who already have SNAP benefits) that is mailed in early June. Each family will receive $120 per card, per child, to last the summer. Learn more about SunBucks on the DSHS website or via this community letter. Families who will automatically be issued this benefit (and don’t need to take any action) include: *If a family earns less than $31,000 per year and has not opted into any of the programs above, they can fill out a School Meals program application for their specific school district by 6/30 – note that some schools provide free meals to all students if 30% of students are eligible – if they attend such a school, they must fill out an application to be eligible for Summer EBT. Eligible families can still access Summer EBT after 6/30 but will have to submit a separate application that is yet to be released – we will share more information about this next month – register for our June Membership Meeting at this link! To hear directly from our experts about Summer EBT, check out our YouTube video. Board Candidate Review   As a 501c3 member organization, we …

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Public Benefits are Key! ABD and HEN – April 25th, 2024

Welcome Back to Public Benefits are Key! Thanks for joining us for our latest update on the Aged, Blind, and Disabled (ABD) and Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) programs. Our friends Patricia Bowen from Solid Ground and Emma Hodgson of Catholic Community Services provided a thorough overview of program changes and tips for benefits advocacy. Important Changes in 2024 To get the full scoop watch the full training recording. What is ABD? ABD (Aged, Blind, and Disabled) is a state-administered cash assistance program for those unable to work due to age, blindness, or disability. It is a crucial bridge to more permanent federal benefits like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Eligibility Requirements: Benefits: Application: Tips: Responding to Denied or Terminated Benefits Unfortunately, not everyone is immediately approved for ABD benefits; sometimes, those who have been approved might find their benefits terminated. Common reasons for denial or termination include: To minimize the risk of denial or termination and navigate these challenges effectively, our friends at Solid Ground suggest: While Applying: If Already Applied: If Benefits Are Denied or Terminated: Resources: ABD and Social Security Disability Benefits: ABD is a transitional program that provides immediate financial support while awaiting SSI or SSDI approval. A Social Security facilitator will assist with the SSI or SSDI application if approved for ABD. You can contact the Benefits Law Center for federal cash assistance programs such as SSI or SSDI. Benefits Law Center at (206) 686 – 7252 and info[at]benefitslawcenter[dot]org  Also, please see our training recording and blog on SSI/SSDI. What is HEN? HEN (Housing and Essential Needs) addresses housing and essential needs for those unable to work due to a disability, including those affected by substance use, which ABD does not cover. Eligibility Criteria: Services Provided: NOTE: Housing benefits are …

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Membership Meeting – April 18th, 2024

Welcome Back, Members! Happy April, and thanks for joining us for a very informative Membership meeting!  This month, we dove deep into the evolving landscape of behavioral health crisis response in King County, bolstered by insights on the forthcoming implementation of the Crisis Care Center Levy. We also shared updates from the Coalition on our ongoing legal advocacy for the rights of those experiencing homelessness, particularly as the pivotal case, Grants Pass v. Johnson, approaches its hearing before the U.S. Supreme Court. You can watch the meeting or read on for a summary of what we learned from our friends at Regional Crisis Response and King County Behavioral Health and Recovery Division. The Current Landscape of Crisis Response – Someone to Respond We were joined by Brook Buettner, the Director of Regional Crisis Response in North King County, who helped shed light on what crisis response currently looks like in King County.  Hear directly from Brook on our YouTube recording. Brook shared slides about where crisis responders fit in the continuum of care and how the Regional Crisis Response (RCR) team is re-imagining public safety.  In their service area, RCR is deployed alongside fire and police as a “co-response” – a model  many regions of WA are moving towards in which many emergencies call for other resources beyond a “badge and a gun” to keep communities safe. RCR is staffed by clinical social workers – at least half of whom have lived experience. The team responds to moments of crisis and acute emergency calls, including but not limited to folks living homeless, opioid and fentanyl crises, and trafficking. Their services include immediate de-escalation, informal assessment (not diagnosing or treating), and referrals to the Community of Care. Since their launch in 2017, they have collected the following outcome data: Beyond the …

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Public Benefits are Key! Working Families Tax Credit – March 28th, 2024

In this special edition of our Public Benefits are Key! Series, we were joined by: Marcy Bowers of Statewide Poverty Action Network, a fierce advocate and negotiator that shaped the Working Families Tax Credit Patricia Bowen of Solid Ground, a skilled public benefits attorney and frequent collaborator on Public Benefits are Key! Trainings The Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC) has had a long journey from inception to incentive – it took 13 years for advocates and lawmakers, strategize, pass, fund, and implement this tax credit. Champions such as Marcy Bowers are thrilled for the WFTC to be in it’s second year as it provides a cash resource available to low- and moderate-income Washingtonians, who are most affected by living in a state that is tax-burdened due to an upside-down tax code. This is a uniquely inclusive public benefit, which does not impact a person’s access to other benefits like TANF (cash benefits), EBT (food benefits), or Social Security benefits, offers higher awards to those with greater need, and can be accessed to non-citizens who file their taxes with ITINs. What is the Working Families Tax Credit? The Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC) is a resource that… And it is expected to have huge impacts! Who is Eligible for the WFTC? To obtain this tax credit, you must fit four criteria: Income limits depend on number of dependents and whether you are filing as head of household or jointly. See below for exact 2024 income limits. Credit amounts vary by number of qualifying children and other factors. See below for a full list of maximum credit amounts based on number of qualifying children. More information on income eligibility and credit amounts can be found at the Department of Revenue website. NOTE that non-US citizens are eligible for this tax credit if they have an Individual Taxpayer …

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Membership Meeting – March 21st, 2024

Welcome Back, Members! Welcome back to a very special edition of our monthly Membership Meeting! Spring has sprung, and the Coalition is here to celebrate the transition and renewal that this time of year brings. And as we spring forward, you can expect us to keep opportunities for learning and advocacy flowing.  In our latest meeting, we shared: Tax Prep Resources and Tax Credits for our Unhoused Neighbors AND Their Providers Casey Lantz from United Way King County shared time-sensitive information on how we can access FREE tax prep resources in-person and virtually in King County.  Check out Casey’s slides below to learn how service providers and their clients can file for free and access cash resources via tax credits! A few highlights you need to know: Hear directly from Casey on our YouTube recording. Our 2024 Legislative Recap During the short legislative session, we know that our hopes often exceed what our lawmakers can achieve. While we have more work to do next year to achieve rent stabilization, permanent funding for the Housing Trust Fund, and preventing cities from discriminating against shelter and supportive housing, we did achieve important outcomes that provide funding for housing and human services and improve access to public benefits. Read more about the results of this session on our blog. As we reflect on what we can do next year, all of our lawmakers echo one important point: our experiences as renters, service providers, and those with barriers to housing are VITAL in convincing our lawmakers to make necessary policy changes, especially for politically tenuous strategies such as rent stabilization and expanding funding for permanent supportive housing. As Rep. Macri stated “when lawmakers hear from constituents, this outweighs fear-based messaging from the opposition”. And Rep. Bateman brings this to a point when saying, “we need …

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Public Benefits are Key! TANF and WorkFirst – February 29th, 2024

We All Agree: Public Benefits are Key! As our frontline human service workers, you know the difference public benefits can make! One of the most vital benefits is TANF, a cash assistance program that is accessed by over 800,000 families in the United States. Check out our updated presentation to learn about TANF eligibility, benefit limit exceptions and extensions, WorkFirst requirements, client advocacy tips, and recent program updates from Patty Bowen and Brittany Lowell of Benefits Legal Assistance at Solid Ground. ***Do you have specific questions for a client? Need help challenging a denial, termination, or sanction? Providers can contact Solid Ground’s Ask a Lawyer Program at benefitslegalhelp[at]solidground[dot]org – include “ask a lawyer” in the subject line – or call 206-694-6742. What are TANF Benefits? Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is a cash assistance program available to low-income families with dependent children. A family may be eligible for TANF if they: Child-Only TANF is also available for some children, even when other household members, including kin caregivers, are ineligible due to non-citizenship. Tribal TANF is available for Native American and Alaskan Native families. They are administered by specific tribes and distinct from state benefits. To apply for any form of TANF benefits and other state benefits, visit https://www.washingtonconnection.org or call DSHS at 877-501-2233. Questions about eligibility? Visit washingtonconnection.org Eligibility depends on a person’s income and resources: a 2-person household must earn less than $1,140 per month in earned income. They must also have less than $12,000 in liquid resources, such as cash on hand, checking or saving accounts, or vehicles – note that as of 2024 the value of one vehicle is excluded when used by the household for transportation. A note on earned vs unearned income: Earned income is typically income from employment. Unearned income is income from another source, such as Social Security benefits or unemployment insurance. …

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Membership Meeting – February 15th, 2024

Welcome Back, Members! Amidst a short state legislative session, our February is jam-packed with advocacy and program updates that help us all to be better advocates – check out our agenda and pass it on! In our February 15th meeting, we shared: Check out our full meeting recording on our YouTube page. ID Card Access for those facing Housing Barriers Many of us know that a big barrier to accessing housing, public benefits, and many community resources is lacking a state ID card or driver’s license. Due to the transient nature of many people’s lives when they are unhoused, it can be especially easy to lose track of documents that are essential to prove someone’s identity, necessary to obtain an ID card. Lori Carnino from the WA Department of Licensing joined us to share a few helpful tips and tricks that can make it easier for unhoused community members to obtain an ID. A few recommendations for service providers and their clients include: To hear directly from Lori, check out our YouTube video. An Announcement from Leo Flor Since 2018, we have been lucky to work with Leo Flor as Director of King County Department of Community and Health Services. DCHS hosts a number of essential programs, including King county veterans Program, Best Starts for Kids, and Health through Housing, which have all benefitted under Leo’s leadership due to his sense of urgency for serving those experiencing homelessness, particularly during the COIDI-19 Pandemic. Hear directly from Leo and members of our community in our YouTube video. Legislative Advocacy from Mockingbird Society and the Coalition On January 30th, 2024, 25 of our most fearless homeless and housing service providers, program staff, and advocates took off from Pioneer Square and Burien to participate in the first in-person Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day …

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