January 2023 General Membership Meeting Recap

Happy New Year, Member We hope your 2022 ended with rest and celebration, because 2023 is off to a busy start! As we dive in to the 2023 legislative session, we are here to prep you with a few takeaways: Check out our meeting recording or keep reading for more! But first, a Few Updates from The Coalition! Coalition Legislative Priorities Sara Robbins gave a great overview of our legislative priorities – namely that we are focused on enhancing public benefits program that our unhoused community is entitled to. Specifically, The Coalition aims to pass legislation to reform the ABD (Aged, Blind, or Disabled) and HEN (Housing and Essential Needs) programs. ABD and HEN are programs designed to serve low-income people with disabilities who are applying for SSI or SSDI, providing time-limited benefits such as cash, housing, transportation, and basic needs support. A significant portion of our members serve clients accessing ABD and HEN, which means this legislation affects many of us directly! For more information on ABD and HEN, check out this blog post. The Coalition is supporting three bills: SB 5480, SB 5413, and HB 1260. These bills aim to reform ABD and HEN in a few ways: Keep an eye on your inbox for a Coalition Action Alert to pass these bills! How to Sign in PRO like a pro! Alison Eisinger, our Coalition’s fiercest advocate, walked us through some important tips on legislative advocacy. Being remote during the legislative session has its benefits, one of which being we can show our support and opposition for bills from the comfort of our own homes! Legislators know who shares their position on legislation, and it can influence how legislators vote! There are two easy ways to share your position on any bill in the legislative session: Hang in …

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2023 State Legislative Preview Recap

Get ready for our 2023 Legislative Advocacy Agenda! As we approach the end of the year, we have much to be thankful for. Your advocacy work with Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness has resulted in some amazing achievements in 2022, such as: This meeting featured special guests Senator Patty Kuderer and some of our favorite labor advocates from Compass Housing Alliance and DESC! Review our meeting recording to learn about important legislative advocacy items, such as: We were lucky enough to hear from one of our favorite housing champions and Chair of the WA state Senate Housing Committee, Senator Patty Kuderer! She knows that housing is a human right and that we can end homelessness, and she is committed to creative solutions that help us to build one million affordable housing units by 2044! Here are a few of her 2023 legislative priorities: Investing $400 million into the state Housing Trust Fund – this means more resources to prevent homelessness by preserving existing affordable housing stock Applying ARCH ordinances statewide – this would require a notice of 180 day for rent increases New policies to guard against gentrification and displacement that supports creative new types of housing Creating a housing-specific court that allows a swifter timeline for eviction proceedings Solutions to address missing-middle housing, especially near transit Expansions to MFTE programs to make subsidized units apply to larger units and for more years New solutions to serve our neighbors living in vehicles These are just a few ideas – make sure to keep up with advocacy updates from our community partners Washington Low-Income Housing Alliance, Statewide Poverty Action Network, and Mockingbird Society. How Can I Be a Housing Advocate? We were joined by our own legislative expert, Sara Robbins, for a few tips on how we can ALL be effective …

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November 2022 General Membership Meeting Recap

Welcome Back, Members! One of the main goals of the Coalition on Homelessness is to keep service providers updated and informed on time-sensitive policy and program changes that may affect our unhoused neighbors. In this meeting, we discussed a number of impactful policy, program, and advocacy updates that affect client access to resources, including: Check out a recording of the meeting below, as well as presentation slides and summaries. Change to the Public Charge Rule Sylvia Miller, Staff Attorney at Colectiva Legal del Pueblo, joined us to share her insights on the impact of the change to the public charge rule. In summary, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a final rule on the “public charge” regulation on September 8, adding critical protections to immigrant families’ access to social safety net programs, including housing and food benefits. This rule change makes it clear that many health and safety net programs are not considered in a public charge determination used to deny temporary admission into the U.S. or deny requests to change one’s status to lawful permanent resident (i.e., green card holder). Designating an immigrant American as a ‘public charge’ bases deservingness of citizenship or permanent residency on public output, a determination with is both ableist and racist. In response to the 2019 policy revision, the ACLU predicted substantial harm to immigrants, particularly those with disabilities. This has been seen in significant disenrollment from vital programs such as SNAP, WIC, and Medicaid. This most recent policy revision, decided in September 2022, no longer considers accessing non-cash benefits as grounds for inadmissibility. This means that our immigrant neighbors can more freely access vital benefits such as Medicaid, SNAP benefits, and housing subsidies such as public housing enrollment, Housing Choice Vouchers, and Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA). The public charge rule applies to very few people, but many more …

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Public Benefits are Key! Medicare, Medicaid, and Spenddown – November 16th, 2022

Welcome Back to Public Benefits are Key! Thank you for joining us for Public Benefits are Key: Medicare, Medicaid, and Spenddown. We hope with this training, you were able to learn new strategies for your clients and community members who deserve access to affordable health care. Check out our recording below to see the full presentation by Hannah Rosenberger, Public Benefits Attorney at Solid Ground. Have client-related questions? Contact 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. What is Apple Health/Medicaid? There are two main Apple Health/Medicaid programs, known as MAGI (“Modified Adjusted Gross Income”) and “Classic Medicaid”. MAGI Medicaid is a no-cost health insurance program for households with low incomes and has been provided due to the passage of the Affordable Care Act starting in 2011. To be eligible for MAGI Medicaid, an applicant must be: Unlike some public benefit programs, there are no resource or asset limits with MAGI Medicaid. To apply, you will need share household monthly income, immigration information, dates of birth, and social security numbers for each household member. Unlike private insurance, you can apply any time of year and switch plans as much as monthly. Under MAGI Medicaid, most beneficiaries will have a choice of 5 Managed Care Plans, which varies depending on plan availability in your region on WA. To learn more about different plans and their benefits, visit MedicarePlanFinder.com. To avoid any changes in benefit access, a beneficiary should immediately report life changes such as income fluctuations over $150 for at least two months, marriage or divorce, birth or adoption, incarceration, and other changes. View the slides above for more examples. Note that MAGI Medicaid coverage has been extended for many due to the COVID-related state of emergency. While many …

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Special Update on 2021 Stimulus Checks & Tax Benefits

At the Coalition on Homelessness, we want to elevate any opportunity that allows our unhoused neighbors to receive resources, and benefits they are entitled to! That’s why we want to let you know about an important announcement from the IRS: over nine million Americans have unclaimed benefits, such as the: The IRS sent this news via mail in late October. As most of us know, those experiencing homelessness may not have shared their current mailing address with the IRS, if they have a mailing address, so they may not have heard this news. Additionally, people experiencing homelessness who have very low incomes may be unaware of this if they have not filed their taxes for 2021. This is notable because to be eligible for these benefits, you must file your taxes for 2021. What Do You Need to Do? If you or your client have not filed their 2021 taxes and want to receive these benefits, please do the following: Please note that claiming benefits has no effect on your ability to claim other federal benefits such as SSI, SNAP, TANF, and WIC. Claiming these benefits also will have no effect on your immigration status or ability to get a green card or immigration benefits. Any questions? Email Sara Robbins at The Coalition.

Public Benefits are Key! TANF and WorkFirst Training – October 27th, 2022

Welcome back to 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 700,000 families in the US. Check out our October 27th presentation to learn about TANF eligibility, benefit extensions and exceptions, WorkFirst requirements, and helpful client advocacy tips from Hannah Rosenberger from Solid Ground and the Coalition’s own Sara Robbins! How can my client gain access to TANF? Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is a cash assistance program available to families based on income, resources, family size, and citizenship status. A family may be eligible for TANF if applicants: Meet the income limits for the program Are US Citizens or lawful permanent residents of the United States – although non-citizens may be eligible for the State Family Assistance Program Are Washington state residents Are responsible for child or pregnant person Cooperate with the Division of Child Support (if a parent is required to pay child support) – however, this may be waived if cooperating may endanger the family, such as in cases of domestic violence Additionally, WA families ineligible for TANF due to non-citizenship that are victims of crimes can access food, cash, and medical – check out the this resource for more information! Child-Only TANF is also available for some children, even when other household members, including kin caregivers, are ineligible due to non-citizenship. How Long do TANF benefits last? TANF is typically available for only 60 months in a person’s lifetime. However, there are a few exceptions that allow a family to receive benefits for longer, such as if the household includes: Families may also be eligible for hardship extensions if they are homeless or a survivor of family violence, …

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October 2022 Membership Meeting Recap

Welcome Back, Members! In this action-packed meeting, we discuss the importance of investing in essential workers and how that impacts the services we provide our clients. Keep reading (or watch the recording below) to learn about the end of the HEN program waiver, opportunities for service provider budget advocacy, updates to WA voter eligibility, and other community updates. The End of the HEN Waiver As the COVID-19 State of Emergency ends in WA, some of our clients may be losing (and some may have new access to) Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) benefits– read our End of HEN Waiver blog for more details on this. We were joined by Trisha Matthieu and Teresa Dillard from Catholic Community Services to share information about important changes with the HEN program and their new Transportation and Essential Needs services. Trisha and Teresa provided the following updates: If your client has been declared ineligible, housing benefits will end on 1/28/2023. Contact DSHS as soon as possible to restore eligibility and avoid a lapse in benefits! King County is the only county in Washington that has chosen to extend current client’s HEN assistance to January. We appreciate our King County service providers and advocates! Eligibility letters have already been sent, which direct people who may be ineligible for HEN to contact DSHS to reapply Catholic Community Services pledges to double-check the eligibility of every recipient to avoid Catholic Community Services will follow up with everyone receiving SSI or SSDI to share resource options Transportation resources are available to HEN-eligible clients starting on November 15th. No appointment is necessary! Walk-in hours at LOCATION on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Check out the CCW HEN webpage for updated information. Need more info? Read more about HEN program offerings and updates on our blog. Have client-related questions? Reach out …

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4 Takeaways for Potential Voters

The Coalition on Homelessness has been busy this election season, providing outreach and education to our unhoused neighbors. It is important to remember that EVERYONE has a voice and VOTING in your local elections is one of the best ways to make your voice heard! Keep reading for 4 takeaways this voting season: 1. No home address? You can still vote! To register to vote, you need: A residential address, which can be anywhere you spend most of your time. This address will determine what shows up on your ballot, such as candidates and levies in your neighborhood. For example, if you spend most of your time near the Downtown Urban Rest Stop, your residential address can be ‘1924 9th Ave, Seattle, WA 98101’ or ‘9th Ave & Virginia St’. And a mailing address, which is anywhere you receive mail. For example, if you receive mail at the Compass Center, your mailing address is ’77 S. Washington St, Seattle, WA, 98104’. *NOTE – your residential address and mailing address don’t have to be the same! Want to print a fact sheet for an unhoused neighbor? Check out this one-pager! 2. You can vote with felony convictions! As of 2022, it is easier than ever to vote with past felony convictions in Washington! Last legislative session, HB 1078 passed, allowing people who have been convicted of a felony in WA to have voting rights restored, including people who are currently on community supervision! That means that if you are not under total confinement of WA Department of Corrections and you fit other eligibility criteria, you can vote! Want to print a fact sheet for someone with felony convictions? Check out this one-pager! 3. There are lots of ways to register to vote without an ID! To register via mail, print a …

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Public Benefits are Key! ABD and HEN – Sept. 29th, 2022

Welcome back, Members! Welcome, members, to our second training on ABD and HEN programs. We had fantastic program details and advocacy advice from: Hannah Rosenberger, Benefits Attorney at Solid Ground Sara Robbins, former Benefits Attorney at Solid Ground and current Senior Policy Manager at The Coalition on Homelessness Teresa Dillard, HEN Division Director at Catholic Community Services of Western WA Trisha Matthieu, TEN Project Manager at Catholic Community Services of Western WA Check out a recording of our training below! What is ABD? The Aged, Blind, and Disabled (ABD) program is a cash assistance program facilitated by DSHS. In addition to cash benefits, ABD provides assistance applying for SSI and creates an automatic referral to the HEN program (Housing and Essential Needs) – more on that later! To be eligible for ABD, a person needs to be 65 or older, visually impaired, blind, OR having a physical or mental disability that prevents them from working for at least 12 months. They must also have income of less than $339 per month for one-person household or $428 per month for a two-person household if income is unearned (from unemployment, Social Security, or other sources). If income is earned (wages from employment), a one-person household must earn less than $678 per month, two-person households earning less than $856. If the income is self-employment or gig economy you should “ask a lawyer” by emailing benefitslegalhelp@solidground.org. There can be many challenges with the application or renewal process. For full guidance, review the meeting recording. Here are a few highlights: A client can’t get SSI and ABD at the same time Applicants are eligible for ABD if they have range of physical and mental disabilities, however not if the disability is related to substance use Applicants CAN work and qualify for ABD, but income limits …

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McKinney-Vento Provider Training, Sept. 22, 2022

Hello members, Thanks to all that took precious time away from their busy days to attend our McKinney-Vento Provider Training! In this two-hour training, we covered many topics, which we will recap below, and have also included our presentation slides. What is the McKinney-Vento Program? Who does it serve? We were lucky enough to have program offerings and eligibility explained by Kayla Blau, who has worked in the Seattle Public Schools McKinney-Vento program office, Sammie Iverson, who worked as a homeless student liaison and myself, who was a McKinney-Vento student. McKinney-Vento is a federal program allocated through every school district in the U.S. It is designed to act as an advocacy hub for youth experiencing homelessness attending a K-12 school, who need unique supports to remain in school and attain academic goals. Major takeaways include: Students are deemed homeless if they lack fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. This includes students who are undocumented and youth you are no longer minors but still attending a K-12 school Youth experiencing homelessness are entitled to immediate enrollment in school Youth have the right to attend their school of origin, or the last school they attended when they were last stably housed Schools are obligated to facilitate and fund transportation to a youth’s school of choice and should consider creative options to make sure that youth’s needs are met Unaccompanied minors have recently gained new legal protections, such as primary health care and access to state ID cards without parent or guardian consent. The Coalition on Homelessness was also joined by passionate youth-serving organization providers, who provide important advocacy and direct service for youth experiencing homelessness. Team Child Youth experiencing homelessness experience major barriers that can lead to legal challenges, such as truancy, detention, and having unmet needs at school or in their …

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