Packed Public Benefits 101 Training at Washington Hall

Yesterday almost one hundred homeless service providers from across King County packed Washington Hall in Seattle’s Central District to learn more about state DSHS benefits available to their clients. Lead by dynamic attorneys Sara Robbins and Katie Scott from Solid Ground’s Public Benefits Assistance Program, the training covered the recent changes to the HEN program and TANF, as well as Food Assistance, ABD, Medicare Savings Program, and more.  Asking for help is hard, and that is something folks that are experiencing homelessness have to do many, many times a day. Receiving help is easier when the person you’re asking is knowledgeable about the answers and can get you what you need, and that’s why we were grateful so many service providers took time out of their busy schedules to learn the ins and outs of DSHS. Did you know about Equal Access Plans (EAP), that are available for DSHS client’s with disabilities and can alter DSHS requirements to ensure barriers are reduced for people who need extra support maintaining benefits? Neither did myself or most of the people in the room yesterday, but now there are hundreds of people experiencing homelessness across King County that will benefit from their case manager knowing they can request an EAP for them to help them get and keep their DSHS benefits. Although at the Seattle/King County Coalition we knew there was a demand for this kind of practical, real-world information that is crucial to the day-to-day lives of people experiencing homelessness, even we were surprised when the training filled up in a few days and the eventual waitlist of over fifty. This showed us the urgent need for more trainings of this kind, and we already have several in the works for the upcoming months – sign up on our website to be …

Read more

Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day Reflection

We arrived at the Coalition office bright and early at 6:30 AM to get everyone on our HHADvocacy Express Bus. We had friends from Real Change News, Compass Housing Alliance, Low Income Housing Institute, and [please list all other orgs]! We passed around breakfast croissants and oranges while Hillary gave us an overview of the bills we were going to be talking to our legislators about and the basics of advocacy and the legislative process. The red scarves we picked up in Olympia showed we were all on the same team – the housing and homelessness advocacy team!  The Washington Low Income Housing Alliance showed us how to send a mass text to our legislators to let them know that hundreds of people were showing up for housing and homelessness.  Afterward, we split off to a number of interesting workshops.  The one I attended was about how to use social media to reach out and educate people.  We learned some useful tips on how to use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to get our message to the most people possible. From there we gathered with our districts. In my own district, the 46th, I met several people whose stories were so necessary for our legislators – Senator Frockt, Representative Pollet, and Representative Valdez – to hear.  There was a group of women who lived in manufactured homes, who owned their homes but not the land they were on.  The landowners decided they want to sell that land, leaving these residents, most of whom are seniors and disabled, facing homelessness.  I met a group of trans and gender-nonconforming people who had experienced homelessness, and when confronted with the lack of resources, decided to open their home to homeless trans people.  I met a young woman with the Mockingbird Society, whose childhood homelessness led to her being placed in foster care. …

Read more

November 16, 2017 General Membership Meeting Summary

IMPORTANT UPDATES: Veterans, Seniors, and Human Services Levy – WE WON!  Voters passed the VSHS levy by almost 70%!  Thank you to everyone who helped get this levy passed! The VSHSL will continue funding the services it did in 2017 through 2018.  For this first year, at least 50% of the levy will be spent on housing stability, which is broadly defined. Take this survey and attend input sessions to help create this definition. NOTE>>>I’m not sure what we were talking about with “HDC supporting Executive’s transition plan.  Council and RPC have lots of decision-making power… Seattle Budget Advocacy – It has been phenomenal to see the turnout of passionate advocates at the City Council budget hearings!  To keep this momentum going, we need EVERYONE to show up at City Hall on Monday, November 20, at 2PM. Even though the H.O.M.E.S. tax was voted down, the majority of council members support an employee head tax that goes toward homelessness.  Council members Gonzales and O’Brien are putting together a resolution for Monday to create a task force for an employee head tax.  This resolution needs to pass! NOTE>>>This is all outdated now.  Should I still write something about Seattle budget advocacy, or just cut all of this? December 14 Legislative Preview and Annual Member Meeting! — Our December 14 meeting will combine our traditional legislative preview with state electeds and our advocacy partners with our FIRST Annual Member Meeting! (register at www.homelessinfo.org).  Feel free to bring a resident or colleague! Let us know: 1.  What do King County legislators need to know about your program, services, and experiences to do their best work in Olympia in 2018? 2.  What questions do you have for elected officials? 3.  How will you engage your clients, guests, residents, coworkers, Board members, volunteers, and neighbors who are speaking up …

Read more

Volunteer Days are over for 2016, but you can help make back-to-school cool throughout the year!

These are Katherine’s reflections on Project Cool 2016: Last Wednesday, a volunteer placed the final Project Cool backpack into a case manager’s van and I began to reflect on this year’s Project Cool Volunteer Days. As we transition to the next phase of Project Cool, I am able to appreciate Project’s Cool full year cycle and the breadth of people and communities the program touches. We have enjoyed each Project Cool volunteer day, and I feel lucky to have organized, packed and inventoried supplies alongside such fantastic volunteers! As we look forward to the next few months and connecting to community members through supply drives (want to host one where you work or play? Contact Hillary – hillary[at]homelessinfo[dot]org), we know that 1,417 colorful backpacks will enter the first days of school swung over the shoulders of students ranging from Pre-K to 12th grade. Having only joined the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness a few weeks ago, I entered my first volunteer day with enthusiasm, excitement, and a bit of nervous anticipation of the amount of work to be accomplished in just a week. I could not wait to see the weeks of donation and volunteer coordination I had supported, as well as the year-long effort Hillary and Julia contributed to Project Cool, come to bloom! My expectations were surpassed and my qualms eased by the awesome volunteers that arrived with enthusiasm for each shift. I feel hopeful for the future of the children that Project Cool serves after discussing many volunteers’ commitment to ending homelessness. Over the past week I learned more fully how raising a child can require mobilization from an entire community. Participants demonstrated how volunteering quickly builds community amongst initial strangers. Participants bonded over their passion for service to form productive, fun work teams. For many of …

Read more

Able-Bodied Adults without Dependents – ABAWDs – Food Stamp Requirements

Changes to requirements for Able-Bodied Adults without Dependents (ABAWDs) receiving Food Stamps went into place on January 1, 2016. Sara Robbins and Katie Scott, Benefits Attorneys at Solid Ground, have kept the Coalition in the loop with requirements and exemptions to this policy, and provided resources for service providers and clients. This policy change impacts ABAWDs in Snohomish, King, and Pierce County (except for Tacoma and Lakewood). Please read below for information about the changes, and for information about how you can support your clients. Feel free to read, review, and print handouts with information for clients, service providers, and about work requirements and time limits. **IMPORTANT UPDATE: Individuals that are homeless and unable to work can self-report that they are homeless to DSHS. DSHS should not require any further documentation regarding homelessness. Individuals should be able to report this information to anyone at DSHS both in the Community Service Offices (CSO) and over the phone through the call center. Please contact Family Assistance at Solid Ground at (206) 694-6742 if this is not actually happening. Here are some important highlights for service providers and clients: ABAWDs who do not meet certain work requirements will only be able to receive 3 months of food stamps in any 36 month period. These policy changes came into effect on January 1, 2016, meaning that the first round of ABAWDs will lose their benefits on April 1, 2016 (after the first three months of 2016). Seemingly all people who receive food stamp benefits from DSHS received letters notifying them of a loss of benefits at the end of the first 3 months of 2016, regardless of their status as an ABAWD. (See an example of this letter here.) This means that: Some clients who are not ABAWDs received this letter. They should call their local CSO to speak to …

Read more

2016 Community Resource Exchange: Wed. April 6 at CenturyLink Field

The 2016 Community Resource Exchange will be held Wednesday, April 6th at CenturyLink Field.  Please register HERE as a service provider. Download, post, and share the 2016 Community Resource Exchange Outreach Poster. This is a day where barriers are reduced to haircuts, dental checks, free shoes, a hot meal, transportation, and so much more! Click here for more info about the exchange, run by United Way of King County, or email exchange [at] uwkc [dot] org. The Coalition on Homelessness will be hosting a Voter Registration table!  Email Hillary if you’re interested in more information about our voter registration work for people who are unstably housed, or if you’d like to volunteer.

Recap: Single Adults Advocacy Committee 11/12/15 meeting: Employment Opportunities with the Diversity Initiative

At our last Single Adults Advocacy Committee meeting, we were joined by Sarah Rothman, Diversity Business Partner with the Northwest Center at Amazon. The Northwest Center seeks to create a pathway to employment by breaking down barriers, and Sarah works to connect people with disabilities to quality employment through the diversity initiative. Everyone who is referred to the Northwest Center will be offered an interview with Sarah to determine a best fit for them and the potential employer. After interviews, Sarah provides next-step actions for the candidate, including interview and agency feedback. Employment opportunities through the Northwest Center often involve customer service experience, and include cashier, mailroom, food service, and reception positions, among others. More information on open positions can be found on the Northwest Center’s website. The Northwest Center and Sarah welcome referrals from service providers. Please reach out to Sarah if you would like more information regarding the initiative programs or to refer a client! You can reach Sarah at srothman[at]amazon[dot]com. Thanks again, Sarah! Member updates from the meeting: Hayden Bass, Outreach Program Manager with the Seattle Public Library: the Seattle Public Library is seeking to connect their programs with existing community organizations. Email Hayden at hayden[dot]bass[at]spl[dot]org to learn about the Library’s current outreach or to seek expansion with your organization. Coalition updates from the meeting: 2016 will be a  year of case manager trainings: If you’re interested in participating in a small workgroup or committee for planning these 3-4 trainings, be on the lookout for applications coming out in the next couple of months. One Night Count is kicking into gear: Learn about the different ways to get involved on our website. Area Leads are in the process of contacting past team captains to confirm their participation for 2016 ONC. Take ACTION!: On Tuesday, the City of Seattle Councilmembers voted unanimously to add $2.265 million to the City’s …

Read more

Recap: General Meeting on Examining Criminal Backgrounds and Housing – July 16 ,2015

This month’s meeting was another brought to you jointly by the King County Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Coalition on Homelessness. We brought together a great team of folks to help us examine criminal backgrounds and housing. The room was packed with over 60 representatives from member organizations and more. Among those in the room were API Chaya, Pike Market Senior Center, Housing Justice Project, The Mockingbird Society, King County 2-1-1, Washington Family Counseling Serice, WSCADV, Theraputic Health Services, Organization for Prostitution Survivors, Valley Cities, Consejo, Urban Rest Stop – LIHI, Wellspring, YWCA, YMCA, King County Public Defense, REACH/LEAD, King County Housing Authority, Year Up, Jewish Family Services, Seattle Housing Authority, Housing Development Consortium, Lake City Taskforce on Homelessness, City of Seattle Human Services Department, Victim Support Team, Capitol Hill Housing, Multi-Service Center, City of Seattle Office of Housing, Columbia Legal Services, Carolyn Downs Clinic, Compass Housing Alliance, City of Kirkland, Bellwether Housing, Columbia Care, and the King County Department of Public Defense. Thank you all for joining in a great conversation! On the agenda . . . Announcement: NEW low-barrier women’s shelter is open in Seattle. Check out our previous blog post for more details, and to download a flyer. Please do spread the word through your networks – every best can and should be filled! Just released: the 2015 One Night Count report. If you haven’t received your copy in the mail, be sure to request one through the Coalition’s website.  Coming up: the next Seattle Housing Levy. Mark your calendars for the first planning meeting, which is scheduled for Wednesday, July 22 from 8:30 – 11:30 a.m. at the WA State Housing Finance Commission office (1000 Second Ave, 28th Floor, Seattle WA). Plus, keep your eyes peeled for notice of an early September meeting hosted by the Seattle Office of Housing and …

Read more