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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Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day 2024

In Person for the First Time since 2020! 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 since 2020! What We Accomplished Not only did we make an impressive drive and got to greet our fellow champions from Spokane to Sequim, we got to make powerful arguments directly to our lawmakers why they must prioritize affordable housing, human services, and public benefits! For more on the 2024 Legislative Session, bookmark our blog for frequent updates!

Public Benefits are Key! SSI and SSDI – January 25th, 2024

Welcome Back to Public Benefits are Key! For those mystified by Social Security benefits and want to make sure people with disabilities get the cash benefits they need, this is the training recap for you! In this training, our public benefits experts answer the following questions: We were lucky enough to be joined by knowledgeable staff from Benefits Law Center (email them with any questions!): What is Benefits Law Center? The Benefits Law Center (BLC) has existed since 1997 to provide legal advice and representation to low-income individuals with disabilities in their pursuit of Social Security benefits. BLC is committed to delivering high-quality advocacy centered on a client’s needs, honoring the humanity of every client, and providing a continually inclusive, collaborative environment for all. Visit their website to learn more! Unlike many other public benefit law firms, BLC works with people who have been awarded benefits with the intent to maintain them – some examples of advocacy include responding to overpayment notices, managing threats of termination or cessation, and ensuring a smooth process when it is time for a Continuing Disability Review. Do you or a client need help applying for or maintaining Social Security disability benefits? Contact Benefits Law Center! Call (206) 686-7252 or email info[at]benefitslawcenter[dot]org. What are Social Security Disability Benefits? Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) are cash benefits disbursed by the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA), a federal governmental agency that provided benefits for over 65 million Americans in 2021, providing income to those who are unable to work due to a disability and to qualifying members of their households. It is important to note that the SSA has been a very effective anti-poverty tool for beneficiaries of all backgrounds, however it was built with racist intentions. Check out this article to learn more. SSI and SSDI are both disability benefits, …

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The Coalition’s State Legislative Priorities

The State Legislative Session has begun! Check back here for an updated list of our top legislative priorities. Last updated 2/20/24 at 3:30 PM. Bills That are Still “Alive” After 2/13 (Deadline for Legislators to Vote Bills Out of Their House of Origin) Fund affordable housing & shelter (HB 2276, SB 6191, $70 million budget request to backfill the document recording fee shortfall) HB 2276 and SB 6191 would fund more affordable housing through the Housing Trust Fund by increasing taxes on the sale of real estate over approx. $3 million, and decreasing taxes on the sale of less valuable real estate. Because these bills are “necessary to implement the budget”, they are not subject to legislative cutoff dates. In addition, we need approx. $70 MILLION added to the budget to prevent cuts to homelessness shelter and services. This is due to a shortfall in Document Recording Fees collected in recent years. We can’t afford to lose any capacity in these vital services. Protect tenants from unreasonable rent increases (HB 2114) HB 2114 would limit rent increases to 7% each year (note: this was originally 5%, and was amended to increase the limit). Excessive rent increases force people into homelessness, and we need the legislature to act! SB 5961 (the Senate companion* bill to HB 2114) died after it was not passed out of the Senate Committee on Housing, even after it was amended to allow landlords to raise rent by up to 15% annually. This shows there will be significant advocacy needed to pass HB 2114 through the Senate. Address high insurance costs for housing providers (HB 2329) Organizations that provide housing for people with low or no income face astronomical costs to insure their buildings, and these costs are quickly going up each year. HB 2329 would commission …

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General Membership Meeting – January 18th, 2024

Thanks for Joining our January General Membership Meeting! At the Coalition on Homelessness, we are proud to hold programming that is useful for people of all stripes – including service providers, housing justice advocates, and concerned neighbors! This meeting was no less true, offering an agenda that included: For a full recap, check out the recording below. Visit our YouTube page for full meeting recordings of past meetings and trainings. Local Advocacy: Burien is Better than a Ban As it has been reported in publications like the Seattle Times and PubliCola, the Coalition has filed a lawsuit with three co-plaintiffs who are unhoused residents of Burien due to their recent ‘camping ban’. While a lawsuit is serious business, we want to emphasize that we do not believe that  Burien is not a bad place – in fact, we believe that Burien is better than a ban! We do believe, however, that the ban imposed by the Burien City Council makes it impossible for those without homes to exist in Burien, and part of our role as an advocacy group is to use every tool in the toolbox to ensure we achieve our mission: to challenge systemic causes of homelessness and advocate for housing justice! If you live or work in Burien and have feedback about the camping ban or its impacts on unhoused Burien residents – we want to hear from you! Please email us with your thoughts as you find them helpful. Hear from Alison directly on YouTube. Updates to the Seattle Housing Authority Housing Choice Voucher List Dani Fitts, Deputy Director of the Housing Choice Program at Seattle Housing Authority (SHA), shared information about their voucher list, and what that means for those who are seeking vouchers for subsidized rent in the Seattle private housing market. Importantly, their …

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Thanks for Joining our 2024 Legislative Preview! 

Every year, it is our pleasure to bring our members and lawmakers together to reflect on past policy, discuss priorities for the upcoming year, and encourage all of us to engage in advocacy. This year was no different, featuring:  For a full recap of our Legislative Preview, check out our YouTube recording.  Remarks from Reps Macri and Alvarado  Rep. Nicole Macri (43rd LD) and Rep. Emily Alvarado (34th LD) shared select priorities for housing and human services investment in 2024, while also offering some words of wisdom to guide us as we renew our advocacy.  A few key points from our representatives:  Hear directly from Rep. Macri and Rep. Alvarado on YouTube!  Remarks from Rep. Tana Senn and Senator Patty Kuderer  Rep. Tana Senn (41st LD) and Senator Patty Kuderer (48th LD) also have distinct, but connected priorities that invest in affordable housing and prevent youth homelessness.  A few key points include:  Hear directly from Rep. Senn and Senator Kuderer on YouTube!  Advocacy Partner Priorities  Next we heard from some of our advocacy partners on their 2024 legislative priorities. These priorities are informed by people with lived experience of homelessness, poverty, incarceration, and many other barriers to safety and stability.  We heard from Lianna Kressin of Statewide Poverty Action Network, who announced efforts to reduce administrative fees and arbitrary timelines that reduce TANF benefits for low-income families. Poverty Action invites you to their IN-PERSON Lobby Day – Monday, 1/15 (MLK Day) in Olympia! Register at this link.  Contact Lianna with any questions. Hear more about Poverty Action’s priorities on YouTube!  We heard from Kelly Olson of Civil Survival, who announced a bill to prevent the loss of voting rights for people  who are incarcerated in WA, and an effort to make it easier for people with misdemeanor convictions to vacate …

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General Membership Meeting – December 14th, 2023

Welcome Back, Members! As we are getting closer to end-of-year holidays and a sense of coziness takes over, you can trust the Coalition to keep you engaged in important advocacy opportunities and program announcements! This month, we have a special two-hour meeting with special guests that can keep you in the know and motivated to follow the 2024 WA Legislative Session! *NOTE* that this will be held on the 2nd Thursday of this month to accommodate end-of-year schedules. On Thursday, 12/14 at 9am: See you soon! -Tim, Hali, Jody, Rachel, and Alison

General Membership Meeting – November 16th, 2023

Welcome Back, Members! As we get closer to end-of-year holidays and a sense of coziness takes over, you can trust the Coalition to keep you engaged in important advocacy opportunities and program announcements! In our November General Membership Meeting, we shared: What is the Behavioral Health Legislative Forum? Why Should You Go? The Coalition is proud to co-sponsor the 2024 King County Behavioral Health Legislative Forum, to be held on Monday, 11/20, 4:30-8:30pm at Seattle Center Exhibition Hall! We invite you to join us to learn, network, and address our lawmakers directly at this FREE and IN-PERSON event. Sponsored in part by King County Behavioral Health and Recovery Division, Washington Recovery Alliance, King County recovery Coalition, we know this is an event by advocates for advocates! As of our meeting, over 550 people have registered, including legislators, community advocates, service providers, program staff and those with lived and current experience of mental health challenges and substance use. You can expect the following: Register FOR FREE at https://kingcounty.gov/forum. King County Veterans Program: A Levy-Funded Asset for Your Clients with Military Experience and their Families! We were lucky enough to be joined by Megan Stanley of King County Veterans Program, a flexible program we consider to be a best-kept secret for low-resource people who are ineligible or can’t wait for federal VA benefits. KCVP provides light case management, financial assistance, shelter and housing support, public benefits application support, legal help, and more for those with military experience and their families. KCVP has a uniquely inclusive definition of veteran, which includes people who may not self-identify as veterans: any person who has served a single day in the military, including those who have received other-than-honorable or dishonorable discharges is eligible for benefits. You do not need to receive VA benefits to access KCVP …

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Public Benefits are Key! Access to Long-Term Care – October 11th, 2023

Thanks for attending a Very Special Public Benefits Training! This brand-new training has been a long time coming! We heard community feedback that there needs to be practical and approachable public information on how unhoused elders or people with disabilities can access long-term care placement. We have been working with knowledgeable program employees and advocates from: Keep reading for information on how to access services available for disabled and elderly community members, how to be placed in a residential long-term care facility, and advocacy tips and tricks for Case Managers and care advocates to ensure their clients’ needs get met. What Is Long-Term Care? How Can Residential Services Help? In Washington, the Aging & Long-Term Support Administration (ALTSA) assesses eligibility for residential long-term care and provides ongoing case management. ALTSA provides connection to long-term care in residential settings such as: Services available vary depending on residential care setting: Note that these settings are not nursing homes, as they allow a higher level of independence when doing daily activities such as preparing and eating meals and provide less intensive medical services. These settings may be ideal for someone who is disabled or elderly, wants to maintain some degree of independence, and needs professional support to maintain Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) or Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs), such as: To be eligible for services, a person must be low-income, 18 years or older, disabled or blind, and in need of long-term care services. Your application for long-term care depends on your age, income, and disability status. Classic Medicaid applicants are those who are: Tailored Support for Older Adults (TSOA) applicants are those who: If you are eligible for Classic Medicaid or the TSOA program, you can apply: MAGI (Apple) Medicaid applicants are those who are: If you are eligible for MAGI (Apple) …

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General Membership Meeting – October 19th, 2023

Welcome Back, Members! As the days are getting shorter and the weather gets drizzlier, you can be sure that the Coalition can put some pep in your step with one of our General Membership Meetings! This month, we had an energizing mix of community program spotlights, advocacy opportunities, and program updates. On Thursday, October 19th, we covered: Advocacy for Those Who Have Lost Medicaid Coverage Many of us are aware that as the Public Health Emergency Unwinding continues, Medicaid clients continue to lose their health coverage. For more information about this, King County DCHS has a well-written blog available at this link. In short, Medicaid recipients must verify their eligibility in order to continue receiving benefits – without doing so, their coverage will end. DSHS has been mailing renewal letters to Medicaid recipients, allowing 90 days to verify continued eligibility. We know that our unhoused neighbors are less likely to receive notice due to lack of a consistent mailing address, and therefore may lose coverage as a result. Do you know Medicaid recipients who still need to verify eligibility? MAGI Medicaid recipients (people who are 19-64; children; pregnant people who are not disabled) should renew their coverage at www.wahealthplanfinder.org or call the Healthplanfinder Customer Support Center at 1-855-923-4633. Classic Medicaid recipients (people who are 65+, blind, or disabled) should renew at washingtonconnection.org or DSHS at 1-877-501-2233. People who are no longer eligible for Apple Care due to changes in household size, income, or other life changes, may be eligible for another Qualified Health Plan, which may offer assistance to pay premiums. To apply for a Qualified Health Plan, visit wahealthplanfinder.org. Do you know someone who has lost their coverage? Northwest Health Law Advocates wants to hear from you. Email nohla[at]nohla[dot]org or call 206-325-6464 to share your experience. Seattle Voters: Don’t Forget to Vote YES on Prop 1 to …

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