Policy Update: The 2014 Legislative Session — Part 1

Washington State’s 2014 Legislative Session began on Monday, January 13, 2014 and will continue through its 60th and last day on Thursday, March 13, 2014. It’s a short one, Friends. And this is one of the many reasons why your voice needs to be heard in Olympia today, tomorrow, and throughout this Legislative Session. Today marks the 22nd day of Session. That means we have 4 (four!) days to get important bills voted out of their respective policy committee by February 7.The naysayers are wrong when they tell you it’s too late, that too much has already been decided. There is still enough time and many opportunities to make a difference. Plenty of good bills need help — your help! — to get through the law-making process. In particular, here are some of those bills and messages (with hyper-linked Factsheets) that we hope you’ll stand with us in supporting: Pass the Youth Opportunities Act — ESHB 1651, SB 6469 Pass the Homeless Children Education Act — HB 2373, SB 6074 Make Document Recording Fees permanent — HB 2368, SB 6313 Pass the Certificate of Restoration of Opportunity — HB 2399 Pass the Fair Tenant Screening Act, Part 3 — HB 2537, SB 6291 Protect Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) & Aged, Blind or Disabled (ABD) Fund the Housing Trust Fund At the Coalition’s Homelessness Advocacy 101 workshops this past Saturday, two Legislative Aides shared with us the “secret” to getting heard in Olympia: tell Legislators that you care, a simple message about why you care, and do it in a way that’s easiest for you. Nancy Amidei, cheerleader for democracy and our Guest Presenter at the workshops, echoed that sentiment, saying that one doesn’t have to be an expert or have a Ph.D. to be an advocate. Whether you want to send an advocacy postcard, e-mail your Legislators, leave a message through the Legislative Hotline (1-800-562-6000), or head down to Olympia to meet in-person, your …

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Recap: Coalition’s General Meeting – December 19, 2013

As we were bidding farewell to 2013, Alison and I discussed what we’d like 2014 to look like for the Coalition’s Everyone Counts blog.  One idea that we’re running with is to post a recap after every General Member Meeting. 2013 was a great year for our Coalition, and one we want to build off of in 2014. So, here to ring in this New Year with our new tradition is a Recap of December’s General Member meeting. As a reminder, the General Member Meeting takes place every third Thursday of the month from 9.00 – 11.00 a.m. at the East Cherry YWCA (2820 E. Cherry Street in Seattle). For more information, check our website’s Members’ tab for a link to the ‘Committees & Meetings’ page, or simply follow this link to take you there directly. Our next General Member Meeting is Thursday, January 16, 2014. __________________ Seattle Final Budget News & Thank You to Mayor Mike McGinn Our friends at the Seattle Human Services Coalition’s handout highlights our HUGE win with the City of Seattle Budget process: an additional investment of $6,891,219! Out-going Mayor Mike McGinn and Jerry DeGrieck, Senior Policy Advisor to Mayor McGinn, came to receive the Coalition’s sincerest Thank You for their leadership and commitment to Seattle residents over the past four years, and also for his strong support of the Coalition’s budget recommendations this past year. Mayor McGinn shared his heartfelt thanks to the Coalition and its members for all of our advocacy, and encouraged us to keep it up. 2014 Legislative Session Preview Robin Zukoski of Columbia Legal Services (CLS) provided background and an overview about the upcoming Legislative Session. Ben Miksch of Washington Low Income Housing Alliance (WLIHA) shared with us WLIHA’s 2014 State Legislative Agenda. Carrie Dolwick of Transportation Choices Coalition shared the status of Transportation policy at the …

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Nancy Amidei’s Food Stamp Diary: Week Three (Including a Holiday Message to Congress, urging them to restore cuts made to SNAP)

WEEK THREE Day One Went to a friend’s birthday celebration – which means I ate well that night, AND I can stretch last week’s meat purchase a bit longer.  I mentioned feeling guilty that I’d eaten so well, and was told:  think of it as a visit to a soup kitchen – rare, but wonderful. Day Two One thing I hear a lot:  “What about beans? They’re good for you, and low-cost.” Answer:  I’m not too fond of beans, especially not as a big part of my diet. However I AM getting lots of money-saving tips – many of which involve cooking that takes a long time. It’s a trade-off that can work for someone like me, but not for anyone with a low-paying job, long commutes, and/or no kitchen (e.g., if I were living in my car, or at a shelter). Day Three A friend gave me three oranges ~ what a treat!  Later, at a meeting, someone put out a bowl of red grapes.  Fruit TWICE in the same day!  In the past, that would not feel like a big deal; on $4.20/day – it’s a VERY big deal. And since I’m fighting a cold, that fruit feels downright therapeutic.  Plus, I spotted some leftover Halloween candy in a kitchen drawer… good news for my sugar-craving (tho’ admittedly not in my budget). Day Four Finishing off my potatoes and carrots.  Running out of bread; tired of cheap cheese.  If this continues, I’ll try to make some different choices, based on what I’ve learned… if I can. However I realized today that I’m going through a lot of cough drops (which I didn’t count in my food budget). While it’s true that I have a cold and cough, I suspect this is really about keeping a taste in my mouth …

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Diary of an outraged advocate: Nancy Amidei sets herself (and Congresswoman DelBene) a challenge

Nancy Amidei has been an anti-hunger and homelessness advocate, a teacher, and a champion of people participating in democracy for more than forty years. She is director of the Civic Engagement Project, and retired a few years ago from the University of Washington’s School of Social Work, where I met her in 1993. I use the word retired with bemusement: Nancy’s schedule of workshops, guest lectures, meetings, and community events has slowed, but only in comparison to what it was a few years ago.  I am not sure she has ever declined to meet  with an interested student, or told a small group of concerned or caring people that she wouldn’t come speak for free. Nancy and I often meet for a walk on the weekends, catching up on work and politics and sometimes tackling the Sunday crossword puzzle.  We spent the Sunday before the election talking about the $5 billion in cuts to food benefits that took effect on November 1st, and the terrible political state that leaves the Democrats proposing additional deep cuts to SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program), just not as deep as the Republicans are proposing. Starting this month, 47 million people  in the United States will have less help to shop at local grocery stores and put food on their families’ tables. The cuts being debated now as part of the Farm Bill will be even more harsh, and last for ten years. Typically, as Nancy turned this situation over in her head, she thought about what the advocacy opportunity might be. She suggested to national anti-hunger organizations that they call on all members of Congress who are making decisions about the SNAP program to eat on the same budget they were recommending for hungry Americans. By the next time Nancy and I talked, she …

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The Coalition takes Tacoma!

Last week, Coalition staff were excited to be joined by our two fantastic scholarship recipients at the 23rd Annual Statewide Conference on Ending Homelessness. The Washington Low Income Housing Alliance put on this informative and exciting conference, this year in nearby Tacoma. We were joined by Susan and Tracy (pictured below) and spent two full days learning and connecting with people from all around the state committed to ending homelessness. I had the pleasure of getting to know both recipients both before and during the conference and their enthusiasm was contagious! For me it was great to see how many passionate people are out there fighting to end the homeless situation, and how these groups are dealing with the changing face of homelessness today. I especially enjoyed seeing the different programs and how they work … by attending I now have found some advocacy groups that I will get involved with most definitely now. -Susan

The Power of Effective Advocacy – Winter Shelter Extended through June 15 for 215 people

Something unprecedented and special happened in our community this spring.  Winter shelters, which usually close on March 31, were extended, first through April 15, and then all the way through June 15th.  While we are all basking in the sunshine at the moment, it’s worth remembering how unpredictable our northwest weather is.  In the last few weeks we have had cold rain, wind, and temperatures near freezing.  The weekend before shelters were scheduled to close on April 15, a hail storm in Seattle highlighted the urgent need for year-round shelter in our city. Winter shelter was extended at three locations in Seattle: King County Administration Building (100 men), Seattle City Hall (75 men & women), and at the YWCA’s Angeline’s Center (40 women).  There are many people and organizations who collaborated to accomplish this broadening of shelter. Thanks to strong collaboration, persistence, leadership and effective advocacy, 215 men and women will not be left to fend for themselves through rain, hail, cold and darkness. Instead, they will be inside: safe, dry and warm. Today we hand delivered thank you cards signed by Coalition members to the leadership in Seattle and King County who helped make winter shelter a reality in our community: Seattle City Council; King County Council; Executive Constantine; Mayor McGinn; Director of King County Community & Human Services Department, Ms. Jackie MacLean; Director of Seattle Human Services Department, Ms. Dannette Smith.  Please also send your own note of thanks to any and all people listed above – without their leadership, we would not have been able to extend winter shelter.