Public Benefits are Key! Food Benefits – September 13th, 2023

Welcome to our FIRST-EVER Training on Food Benefits! You asked for it, and we heard you, providers! We had the pleasure of offering our very first Public Benefits are Key! Training on Food Benefits, led by the expert team from Solid Ground’s Benefits Legal Assistance Team: In this very special 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. Announcement: EBT Holders can Have Stolen funds Replaced! 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 draining a EBT card holder’s food benefits. Starting August 23rd, 2023, DSHS has instituted a process for replacing benefits stolen from card skimming! If an EBT cardholder has had funds stolen via card skimming… To report EBT Benefit theft to DSHS… *NOTE that Benefit Theft reimbursement does not apply to Cash benefits (TANF – Temporary Assistance for Needy Families). 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’. *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 …

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General Membership Meeting – September 21st, 2023

Welcome Back, Members! We hope everyone has been soaking up the last rays of summer before fall begins. While we did not hold a General Membership Meeting in August, that does not mean we were at the beach! While more placid than most months, our August was spent onboarding new staff, planning new training opportunities for our service providers, gearing up for voter engagement events for our unhoused voters, and preparing for King County and City of Seattle budget advocacy – that’s right, it’s that time again! Make sure to tune in to our General Membership Meeting on Thursday 9/21 at 9am to: It’s not too late to register! Share the sign-up link with your friends and comrades –

Helping Students Experiencing Homelessness (McKinney-Vento) Training – August 1st, 2023

Thanks for supporting our K-12 students experiencing homelessness! Welcome back to our annual training on understanding the McKinney-Vento Act and serving K-12 students experiencing homelessness! In this year’s training, we covered a number of topics, including: In our Resource Fair, we heard from so many of our community partners that serve homeless youth, including: For a printable one-pager that highlights services and contact information of many of these organizations, check out our website! For a full recording of our training, check out our YouTube video below! What is the McKinney-Vento Act? Who does it serve? We were lucky enough to receive a presentation by Kayla Blau of BELONG Partners, who has worked as a Homeless Student Liaison in Seattle, Sammie Iverson of Building Changes, who has worked as a Homeless Student Liaison in Tacoma, and Tim Marshall of the Coalition on Homelessness who was a McKinney-Vento student in the Highline School District. The McKinney-Vento Act is a federal law that mandates educational access and resources to youth experiencing homelessness in every school district in the U.S. These resources respond to the unique needs of homeless youth to help them stay in school, attain their academic and social goals, and graduate. The most obvious McKinney-Vento resource in one’s school is the presence of a Homeless Education Liaison, who is responsible for enrolling homeless students in supportive services and making referrals that are necessary for a student to be successful. Homeless Education Liaisons are also a great point of contact for any community provider who is advocating on behalf of a youth experiencing homelessness. For an up-to-date list of Homeless Education Liaisons in Washington, check out the OSPI website. To be eligible for McKinney-Vento services, a student must fit the definition of homelessness as determined by the US Department of Education. By …

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General Membership Meeting – July 20th, 2023

Welcome Back, Members! As we are taking much needed time away to enjoy our summer, know that our monthly General Membership Meetings are still a place for important information exchange to serve our community members experiencing homelessness. In this meeting, we discussed: To review our meeting in full, check out our recording on YouTube. Updates from the Coalition: VSHSL, Voting Resources, and more! This Primary Election, we can’t afford to have low voter turnout – the Veteran’s Seniors, and Human Services Levy (VSHSL) must pass to provide essential services to vulnerable communities in King County, so we need every vote we can get! The VSHSL is a primary source of funding for many essential basic needs and human services in King County. This includes: For more information about the VSHSL, visit their campaign website. Even if you or your clients do not directly benefit from VSHSL, many others do: 185,000 community members have been served since 2017 with the funding authorized from the past levy. We need your help to ensure that this levy once again passes! How Can I Help Get out the Vote? Many of our clients and community members in King County may believe that they are not eligible to vote due to misinformation or past laws that have restricted voter eligibility. In fact, you are eligible to register to vote in Washington if: This means that you CAN vote in WA if you have a felony conviction (even if you are currently under DOC Community Supervision!), if you don’t have a permanent residential address, or if you do not have a WA state ID. Note that the deadline to register for the Primary Election online or via mail is Monday, July 24th. BUT a person can register to vote and cast their ballot at an in-person …

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Important Update: Help the folks you work with keep their Medicaid or Medicare coverage! As the Public Health Emergency ends, up to 300,000 Washington residents could lost their coverage.

Context: From 2020 to early this year, eligibility reviews were suspended for people who use public benefits like Apple Health (Medicaid). This temporary policy change allowed stability and access to health care for many people during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. What’s happening now: Starting in early 2023, the “unwinding” of the Public Health Emergency (due to decreased impact of the COVID-19 pandemic) means that eligibility reviews for public benefits are re-starting. Premiums for Apple Health for Kids and Apple Health for Workers with Disabilities are also starting again. Who is affected: Washington state DSHS is already reporting a mass unenrollment of tens of thousands of people from subsidized health care plans. They estimate that up to 300,000 Washingtonians may lose coverage. People without homes, with little or no mail service, and other barriers to receive and respond to re-certification documentation are at great risk of losing coverage. Here is what to do: To avoid losing Apple Health (Medicaid) coverage:1) People should confirm or update mailing addresses and phone number with DSHS, or the Health Care Authority, or their Managed Care Organization (Molina, Community Health Plan of WA, etc.) as soon as possible.2) Once received a letter from DSHS, they must complete the documentation for an eligibility review online, over the phone, or via mail. If people do not submit to an eligibility review by the deadline given by DSHS correspondence (as early as June 2023), they can lose their coverage! NOTE: If people have already missed the renewal deadline, there is a 90-day grace period. Take action as soon as possible to review the covered person’s account, update contact information, and complete eligibility paperwork. If someone does not have ALL the requested information, it’s better to submit a partial or incomplete form than nothing. MAGI Medicaid recipients (people who are 19-64; children; …

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Public Benefits are Key! Medicaid and Medicare – July 12th, 2023

Welcome Back to Public Benefits are Key! Thank you for joining us for Public Benefits are Key! This training covered two complicated systems: Medicaid and Medicare. 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 slides and recording below to see the full presentation by Hannah Rosenberger, Public Benefits Attorney at Solid Ground’s Benefits Legal Assistance program. Have questions about a client’s Medicaid or Medicare coverage? 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. An Update on the Public Health Emergency Unwinding As most of us are aware, from 2020 to 2023, recipients of public benefits like Medicaid were not subject to eligibility review – this allowed stability for many of our most vulnerable during the height of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Starting in early 2023, an “unwinding” of the Public Health Emergency due to decreased impact by COVID-19 has re-started eligibility reviews and sadly, there has already been mass unenrollment from subsidized health care plans. To avoid losing your Medicaid coverage, you must confirm or update your contact information with DSHS so you can be reached for an eligibility review. If you do not submit to an eligibility review by a certain deadline, you can lose your coverage! For MAGI Medicaid recipients (those who are 19-64, children, pregnant, and not disabled), review your account at or call the Healthplanfinder Customer support Center at 1-855-923-4633. For Classic Medicaid recipients (those who are 65+, blind, or disabled), review your account at or call DSHS at 1-877-501-2233. What is Medicaid? There are two main Medicaid programs (sometimes called Apple Health), known as “MAGI Medicaid” (Modified Adjusted Gross Income) and “Classic Medicaid”. “MAGI Medicaid” is a no-cost …

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Public Benefits are Key! Disability Deep Dive (ABD, SSI, and SSDI) – June 28th, 2023

Welcome Back to Public Benefits are Key! This special training is brought to you by two special guests: Hannah Rosenberger from Solid Ground’s Benefits Legal Assistance program and Huy Nguyen from Benefits Law Center. They joined us to take a deeper dive into state and federal-level disability benefits. For more information on the basics of these programs, check out our ABD/HEN recap blog and our SSI/SSDI recap blog. Review our training recording on YouTube for a full recap and audience Q&A! Housing & Essential Needs (HEN) Program: Subsidy Extensions and New Client Support This housing subsidy program is a major benefit for low-income, ABD-eligible Washingtonians. Hannah emphasized that it is only available while receiving ABD benefits, with some exceptions. Once SSI benefits are approved and ABD benefits end, HEN benefits also end. However, limited rental assistance is available on a temporary basis through Catholic Community Service even after ABD benefits end. Unfortunately, transportation and basic needs benefits cannot continue once SSI benefits commence. Community members have also been curious about extending support to new clients. While there is not enough funding to expand caseloads, Catholic Community Services is working to verify eligibility of clients so they may serve more new clients. For more info, reach out to your HEN Case Manager or the King County HEN Resource Line at 206-328-5755. Aged, Blind, or Disabled (ABD) Benefits: Resource Limits, Application Tips, and Co-Occurring Disorders This cash benefits program is available to low-income, disabled Washingtonians as they are in the process of applying for SSI or SSDI benefits. Hannah shared some exciting updates which have been made to this program’s resource limits! Starting Feb. 1st, 2024, applicants are eligible for ABD if they have up to $12,000 in resources (up from $6,000), and to have the value of one car removed from …

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2023 McKinney-Vento Training Preview

K-12 students experiencing homelessness, a minority among all Washingtonians experiencing homelessness, still have a tragically large presence – over 37,000 students were counted as experiencing homelessness in the 2021-2022 school year. And it is likely that more experience challenges, as these students are historically undercounted due to lack of awareness and stigma that prevents self-identification. These students have the right to an education, and stabilizing resources that school can bring. As mandated by the McKinney-Vento Act, students deserve access to transportation, study and extracurricular accommodations, and basic needs fulfillment to ensure they can achieve their educational goals. As service providers to families experiencing homelessness and unaccompanied minors, we know that helping students get their needs met can be tough sometimes! That’s why we at the Coalition, in partnership with Building Changes, are providing a training that accomplishes the following: This annual training will be held on Tuesday, August 1st at 9am on Zoom. Register at this link to join us! Looking to have resources today? Visit our website for links to our resource one-pager and additional community offerings.

General Membership Meeting – June 15th, 2023

Welcome Back, Members! In our first Membership Meeting of (almost) summer, we have celebrations and solemn updates for you. As always, we can’t do our work without the support of our Coalition Members and we appreciate you tuning in! In this meeting, we shared: Check out our YouTube page for a recording for all of our meetings. Board Member Acknowledgements Goodbye to Ben Miksch, who has been on our Board for 10 years! Ben was Board Chair as we shifted from being volunteer-run to having staff, a pivotal transition that helped us to greatly scale up our efforts. He has held lots of roles with us, expelled countless efforts, and will be sorely missed. Hello to Robin Koskey and Harold Odom, who will begin serving 3 years terms on our Board of Directors. Both bring passion, dedication, initiative, and experience in the field of housing justice and human services advocacy. Check out our YouTube video to hear from Robin directly! Check out Harold Odom’s bio below: Key Community Info from Alison Eisinger and Sara Robbins No New War on Drugs in Seattle!: A Brief History The Coalition, as well as many other organizations who stand for harm reduction and person-centered human services, have been BUSY working to oppose a new Seattle ordinance to criminalize public drug use and drug possession – and we won (for now)! This fight began in 2021, when the Washington Supreme Court ruled via the Blake Decision that existing drug possession laws were unconstitutional because of the possibility for people to be convicted of possession in cases where they weren’t aware that they possessed a substance. Following this court case, it became the responsibility of state legislature to determine how to reshape drug possession laws, which was eventually settled in a 2023 special session. This new …

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Public Benefits are Key! TANF and WorkFirst – May 31st, 2023

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 updated presentation to learn about TANF eligibility, benefit limit exceptions and extensions, WorkFirst requirements, client advocacy tips, and recent program updates from Hannah Rosenberger of Benefits Legal Assistance at Solid Ground. How Can Someone Access TANF Benefits? Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is a cash assistance program available to 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. Questions about eligibility? Visit For those ineligible or not receiving TANF, other programs may be available to families. These include: 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. When considering income limits, unearned income is considered dollar for dollar, in that if a family of two receives $2,000 in SSDI and unemployment, they are ineligible due to exceeding the income level limit of $1,056 for a family of two. However, earned income is counted at 50%, with an additional earned income disregard of $500 (starting August 1st, 2024). For example, if a family of two receives $2,000 in wages from employment, it is officially considered $500 ($2000/2-$500), and therefore below the income level limit of $1,056 for a family of two, qualifying them for benefits (note that the additional $500 disregard does not go into effect until August 2024). Benefit amounts start at $417/month for a single person and increases based on …

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