Senate Releases Proposed Budget that Slashes Funding for Housing and Human Services

The Washington State Senate released their proposed budget yesterday which, if enacted, would be devastating for housing and human services.  Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) was cut by 50% and the Aged, Blind & Disabled (ABD) program, with the tiny cash benefit of $197 a month for people waiting for federal Social Security benefits, was completely eliminated.  Working Connections Child Care – a program that helps low-income parents pay for child care – was cut by $180 million.  In addition, advocates are concerned that there is a chance that neither the Senate nor the House will allocate funds for the Housing Trust Fund, our most powerful  tool for creating affordable housing and good jobs across Washington. The Senate’s proposed budget is unacceptable.  We need to let our senators know how we feel about this budget, which places heavy burdens on low income people. Yesterday, the Coalition’s Alison Eisinger was among several housing and homelessness advocates who went down to Olympia to deliver testimony on the importance of the programs that were cut in the Senate’s proposed budgets.  Here are two strong testimonies from Greg Winter, Director of Whatcom  Homeless Service Center in Bellingham, and from Ania Beszterda-Alyson, Community Engagement and Advocacy Manager with the Low Income Housing Institute. Greg Winter, Whatcom Homeless Service Center I’m here to ask you to support the Disability Lifeline programs – Housing & Essential Needs and Aged, Blind & Disabled. I’ve witnessed first hand how these programs have transformed the lives of Whatcom County residents who were extremely vulnerable. I understand that your budget released today eliminates ABD – this is a very bad idea. This program provides modest support for people who are disabled and applying for SSI. The state receives approximately $50 million in reimbursements from the Federal Government for the modest cash grant and …

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Bill Affecting Youth who are Displaced or Homeless Becomes Law

Update to previous post on February 20, 2013: Huge Success for Youth! But there’s still work to be done! Governor Inslee signed SB 5147, a bill concerning a 72 hour notification period for agencies to inform parents of a juvenile seeking crisis services, into law on February 27. This allows young people who leave their homes in crisis, and the shelter staff who want to help them, more time to connect and work out safe resolutions. Thanks to everyone who worked so hard to correct this flaw in the law: Columbia Legal Services, The Mockingbird Society, Youthcare, Friends of Youth and youth shelter providers across the state, as well as parents, law enforcement, and legislators who realize that it’s far better to make sure youth can turn to shelter workers than to discourage them from seeking help. We also have our eye on the Youth Opportunities Act, HB1651, as it moves through the legislature. By sealing juvenile court records to the public, except in the case of serious violent offenses or sex crimes, this bill would remove barriers for young people seeking opportunities, and keep them from paying for childhood mistakes in their adult lives. We don’t need more barriers for folks trying to get housing, please encourage your legislators to support the Youth Opportunities Act by contacting them today at 1-800-562-6000!

2,736 people had no shelter in King County last night

The One Night Count of homeless people in King County took place early this morning.  We are incredibly grateful to the many volunteers and supporters whose careful work made this a safe, respectful, and accurate Count. At least 2,736 men, women, and children were found sleeping on sidewalks, under bridges, in their cars, on public transit, and in temporary structures and makeshift campsites. This is 142 more people than our volunteers counted outside one year ago. The work we do together on this One Night is just the beginning. It sets in motion a full year of education, engagement, and action for all of us who care about this crisis. This morning, returning to warmth indoors, we are especially aware of this truth:  everyone should have a place to call home. Volunteers returned from counting shocked and saddened to see their neighbors sleeping on flattened cardboard boxes or riding Metro buses to keep warm.  Many are also inspired to urge public officials to match these basic needs with robust resources.  Right now, our State Legislators are debating funding for key housing and homelessness programs:  I am asking every person who volunteered for this One Night Count, and every member of our Coalition, to commit to taking action.  Let us make sure the One Night Count is more than just a big, sad number. Are you interested in helping? Come to a Homelessness Advocacy 101 Workshop in Seattle or Bellevue on Saturday, February 9 ~ register here. Join Coalition members as we meet with and educate lawmakers in Olympia on Monday, February 11 for Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day ~ register here. Support the Coalition’s work through a financial donation. Donations made through February 28 will be matched, up to $7,000, providing a unique opportunity to double the impact of your gift. Donate online …

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