Welcome Back, Members!
It may be unseasonably cold outside, but we’re here to keep you warm with all the advocacy news and community networking you can handle! This month, we had a well-rounded blend of special guest presentations from Health Care for the Homeless and Tenant Law Center, and advocacy updates from the King County Housing and Essential needs staff, King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay, and our own Sara and Alison.
Before you dive in, note that our Annual Membership Meeting is rapidly approaching – join us on Thursday, May 18th at 9am for a special 2-hour meeting that includes special guests from the state legislature and our Board of Directors Election!
Register at this link!
Welcome, Ellie Navidson!
We had the pleasure of meeting the new Clinical Quality Lead at Public Health’s Healthcare for the Homeless. They shared an exciting new resource for providers who work with unhoused folks – a new in-person Overdose Prevention Training series, offered monthly throughout 2023. This is much needed, as King County overdose deaths have risen dramatically since the introduction of fentanyl.
Want to learn more? Email Ellie at enavidson[at]kingcounty[dot]gov for a training schedule and to be added to the roster.
In the meantime, check out this excellent resource guide on overdose prevention and harm reduction.
Eviction Resources from Tenant Law Center
Next, we were joined by Michelle Jones and Kasey Burton from Tenant Law Center to discuss helpful resources for clients at risk of eviction or who have already been evicted.
The Tenant Resource Line is a new service for low-income King County tenant who:
- Has received an eviction notice
- Has received an eviction summons
- Has received a subsidy termination notice
- Requires reasonable accommodations due to a disability
Upon calling, tenants will be screened and provided with self-help resources or may be connected to an attorney for real-time legal advice.
Note that due to high demand, a tenant may have to leave a message and have their calls returned as soon as staff is available.
For eviction resources, call 206-580-0762 or 855-485-8767 – operating Monday-Friday, 9am-1pm.
Closed Holidays. Interpretation services available.
Questions about the Tenant Resource Line? Email Michelle at michellej[at]ccsww[dot]org.
Kacey Burton shared a thorough presentation on a helpful legal process called an Order of Limited Dissemination (OLD).
In summary, this is a legal tool for a tenant who has been evicted and has since had trouble accessing housing due to that eviction.
An OLD is a court order that stops tenant screening companies from sharing eviction history with landlord during the housing application process.
An OLD can be ordered if the court finds that a person was wrongfully evicted, if the tenancy was reinstated, or certain mitigating factors such as:
- When a person in currently unhoused and has a time-sensitive voucher
- If the eviction is based on a past issue, such as a mental health crisis that is now being managed or past substance use
- If the court case that brought the eviction was vacated prior to hearing
Service providers and client advocates can help a person file an OLD! To access the form, visit WashingtonLawHelp.org
Questions about the OLD process? Email kburton[at]@ccsww[dot]org.
Housing & Essential Needs Advocacy
One of our most closely-held values at the Coalition is collective action. In this spirit, we have worked with a series of other service and advocacy organizations to ensure the Housing and Essential Needs program is fully funded in the Washington state budget. In past budget iterations, HEN had a $26 million deficit, this would mean current enrollees could potentially would lose this benefit, without any growth for other eligible enrollees. We were deeply heartened to see the King County HEN staff advocate for full funding at the Senate Ways & Means Committee – this testimony was powerful and ultimately successful! It is a great example of how all of us, especially those of us who have lived experience, can do our part to improve the lives of those experiencing homelessness/housing insecurity. Thanks to Kiauna, Greg, Lonnie, and Trisha at King County HEN for all you do!
Don’t take our word for it, check out the testimony in full on YouTube.
Do you want to testify on legislation that you care about? Email Sara at sara[at]homelessinfo[dot]org!
Levy Updates with King County CM Zahilay
While state level advocacy is important, there’s a lot going on right here in King County!
King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay joined us to encourage all of us to vote YES on King County Prop 1 – funding Crisis Care Centers, restoring 100 residential crisis beds, and investing in the behavioral health workforce.
Councilmember Zahilay spoke from the heart about the need for this levy to serve the increasing prevalence of mental health care and overdose crises exacerbated by the ‘shadow pandemic’. This doesn’t just affect our neighbors experiencing homelessness – many of us are affected, whether stably housed or not – but does uniquely affect those who are experiencing homelessness and poverty.
CM Zahilay’s identified three tools to remediate this behavioral health crisis:
- A place to call when you are in crisis
- A mobile service to meet those in crisis
- A community space to address urgent behavioral health care needs
While 988 and the Mobile Crisis Response Unit are working to address the first two needs, strategically-placed Crisis Care Centers will address that final need. Hear more from CM Zahilay on YouTube!
Don’t forget to vote YES on Prop 1 by submitting your ballots by Tuesday, April 25th.
Haven’t gotten your ballot? Need a new ballot? You can print a new ballot by visiting this website or calling King County Elections at 206-296-8683.
Ready to cast your ballot? You can mail your ballot so it is postmarked by 5pm on 4/25 OR drop in a Ballot Drop Box until 8pm on 4/25.
CM Zahilay and our own Alison Eisinger also discussed the importance of preventative care for those of us with behavioral health care needs, investment for which are provided by the Veterans, Seniors, and Human Services Levy. This levy funds housing, health care, employment training services, and much more for some of our most vulnerable community members, including veterans, seniors, and victims of domestic violence.
The Coalition has fought hard to increase the rate of renewal of this levy from 10 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, to 12 cents, as the current rate will result in a reduction in services and housing due to inflation.
The Coalition will keep you updated on this important advocacy item. If you are not already, sign up for our emails to stay in the loop!