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:

  • A statement on the Burien Camping Ban and resulting lawsuit and our assertion that Burien is better than a ban!
  • Important and time-sensitive announcements from the Seattle Housing Authority on the Housing Choice Voucher application process, which re-opened in January 2024! This is valuable information for anyone who works with people who are receiving or eligible for housing assistance.
  • Important announcements from DSHS on updates to the Transitional Food Assistance program and the DSHS Mobile Office, operated in partnership with REACH, where people applying for public benefits can drop off paperwork, complete reviews, and obtain EBT cards!
  • Updates on the fast-paced legislative session and information on opportunities to speak up, like the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance’s Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day on 1/30 in Olympia!

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 waiting list for vouchers opened again for the first time in years. Unlike years’ past, they are planning to leave it open indefinitely, so people can sign up at any time.

Hear from Dani directly on YouTube and check out their presentations slides below!

Once on the list, vouchers will be awarded randomly, with a priority given to those earning under 30% AMI (annual income of $37,000 for a 3-person household).

To join the SHA Housing Choice Voucher List, applicants can visit the Seattle Housing Authority website and establishing an account through the SHA Portal. Applicants who need assistance can contact a SHA staff member by calling 206-239-1674 or emailing at voucherlist(at)seattlehousing(dot)org.

Once on the list, applicants will need to confirm they are still interested in a voucher every month by visiting the SHA Save My Spot webpage or calling 866-623-5111.

Email Dani if you would like SHA to provide in-community guidance or application assistance.

While this system still does not meet the demand for limited vouchers funded by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Seattle Housing Authority continues to do its best to make the process easier for those seeking a voucher. Do you believe HUD should do more to fund affordable housing? Take action at this link!

DSHS Updates: Transitional Food Assistance and Mobile Office

We have multiple updates from DSHS – on the Transitional Food Assistance program and the Mobile Office program.

Mario Paduano, who coordinates the White Center DSHS Office, shared insight into an updated policy affecting families receiving food benefits (SNAP) and cash benefits (TANF) who have changes to their household income. As of January 2024, households who become ineligible for food or cash benefits will be eligible for five months of Transitional Food Assistance at the same level. The goal of this policy change is for families to avoid facing a ’food cliff’, in which families face food insecurity due to the sudden end of an expected public benefit. Families do not have to do any additional reporting to enact this limited time resource – it will begin automatically along with a notice of benefit terminations.

Hear from Mario directly on YouTube. Questions about Transitional Food Assistance? Email Mario.

Mary O’Brien, Mobile Outreach Administrator, shared updates about the recently expanded Mobile Office program, which bring public benefits to you! DSHS Mobile Offices are a great resource for anyone applying for benefits like SNAP, TANF, ABD/HEN, and Medicaid. At a Mobile Office, an applicant can verify financial eligibility, perform a financial review, obtain a new EBT card, receive a replacement card, and more! Note that social worker assessments for disability benefits (ABD) must be done at a traditional Community Service Office (CSO), but other paperwork can be completed at a mobile CSO.This a resource for DSHS clients and service providers alike – their highly-trained staff is geared towards efficient service in spaces like resource fairs and other community hubs. Vans are also equipped with accessibility tools for those who have mobility and hearing challenges, and are staffed with a Spanish-speaking staff member, in addition to Language Line access for other non-English speakers.

To check when the Mobile Office will come to your neighborhood, check out the Region 2 Calendar!

Providers can also request the Mobile CSO to visit their sites – submit requests at CSDMobileCSOW[at]dshs[dot]wa[dot]gov. Questions? Email Mary.

Hear directly from Mary on YouTube and check out her presentation slides below.

State Legislative Advocacy: A Mid-Session Check-In

We are in week two of a 60-day state legislative session and things are moving fast! We are rallying behind bills that have the potential to transform human services and affordable housing in Washington  – particular bills we are excited about at this stage are SB 5770, which would allow King County to prevent cuts to public health and human services, and HB 2276, which would secure a sustainable funding source for the creation of new affordable housing through a real estate excise tax.

For a list of the Coalition’s 2024 legislative priorities, bookmark this blog post – note that this will be updated frequently as the session progresses!

While this is a short timeframe to get a lot done, it is possible to do a lot in a short amount of time – some proposals take years, but each year we can build momentum! That means that we need your help! As bills progress and are seen by different committees and lawmakers, we need you to take action multiple times.

And there are many ways you can take action!

For those with just minutes, you can send respond to Coalition action alerts, where we may provide you with a link to ‘sign in pro’ for an important bill to be passed by a committee. We may also send you a mass email template to ask your lawmakers to support a bill at key points in the process. Not sure what to do? Don’t worry! You can count on the Coalition to fill you in with frequent communications. Sign up for action alerts to stay in the loop.

For those who have a few hours to spare, 2024 is the year for you! On Tuesday, 1/30, we are lucky enough to congregate in Olympia for Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day, hosted by WA Low Income Housing Alliance. This Advocacy Day is in-person for the first time since 2020 (!), and we have the opportunity to speak out minds and support bills in face-to-face meetings with our lawmakers.

The priority deadline to register for Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day is 1/25 – learn more and secure your spot at https://www.wliha.org/hhad.

Hear more from Hali directly about our legislative priorities on YouTube. Questions about advocacy? Email Hali.