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:
- An announcement about the 2024 Behavioral Health Legislative Forum, which the Coalition is co-sponsoring
- A spotlight on the King County Veterans Program – hear from Megan Stanley about vital resources for your veteran clients who have served as little as one day in the military, as well as for their families
- Advocacy Updates from the Coalition, including details on Seattle budget victories, King County opportunities, and ways to raise your voice for budgets that invest in human services
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:
- 4:30-6:00pm: Recovery in Action, an interactive pre-event that features:
- Voter engagement and registration from the Coalition!
- A storytelling workshop and opportunities to record a video about your recovery story – great practice if you want to advocate for behavioral health solutions to your lawmakers!
- A Naloxone Training, at which the first 100 attendees receive free Naloxone!
- An Art Exhibit from Recovery Café
- 6:00-7:00pm: Lawmaker Engagement from with more than 20 local, state, and federal elected officials – this is an exclusive opportunity to share what’s on your mind directly to those who shape policy in your community!
- 7:00-8:30pm: A presentation from the Behavioral Health and Recovery Division on priorities for the 2024 state legislative session and stories from the recovery community
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 resources. KCVP also recognizes that families come in many shapes and sizes and can include partners who are not married and roommates if they are dependent on a veteran – in many cases household members can be considered family and therefore eligible for benefits.
Benefits are available to those who live in King County, or are actively planning on moving to King County, and are low income, earning up to 60% AMI.
To apply for benefits, Megan recommends they join KCVP at their Northgate or Tukwila office for walk-in hours, 8:30-11am, 1-3pm, Monday-Friday. Note that KCVP can arrange transportation services if necessary! To apply, military paperwork is not necessary – KCVP can verify military service with social security number and date of birth.
For more details on benefits available, check out the slides above or on YouTube!
*Note that certain restrictions apply related to housing vouchers and health care access – contact Megan Stanley for more information! Call Megan at 206-477-4795 or email mestanley[at]kingcounty[dot]gov.
Advocacy Updates from the Coalition: Budgets, VSHSL, and Elections, Oh My!
The Coalition knows that every dollar counts when delivering human services to our unhoused neighbors, so we work hard to push every funding stream possible!
Since our October meeting, we’ve been working with Seattle and King County councils as they finalize their budget adjustments for 2024.
In Seattle, we have much to celebrate! Because of efforts that our members have made via council testimony and emails, the city council has allocated $2.7 million to human service contracts in order to counteract inflation and to provide a 2% real wage increase.
Unfortunately, things don’t look as good for King County human service contracts. At this time, King County council members have not included any new inflation or wage adjustments for homelessness services. And we need your support to build a better budget!
As a reminder, much of our budget work towards human services workforce stabilization, which means having more human services providers who are content in their positions to continue providing excellent care to those experiencing homelessness, in contrast with our reality of significant provider burnout and turnover. To achieve workforce stabilization, we need human services contracts that include enough money to keep up with inflation and pay workers a fair wage, as well as subsidies for life and professional needs, such as housing and training.
To urge action by King Council and to thank Seattle City Council, please take action by sending a quick email – personalize our action alert with your experience at bit.ly/2024KingSeaBudget!
In addition to the budget, the Coalition has been working on the Veterans, Senior, and Human Service Levy implementation plan. As you likely remember, King County voters approved the Veterans, Senior, and Human Service Levy to fund d supportive services for vets, seniors, and resilient communities for another 6 years! For the first time, this levy will provide $58 million in funds for workforce stabilization – and we want to make sure King County Council follows through! Ask King County council to keep this $58 million for workforce stabilization, and not for any other projects – share your experience at bit.ly/VSHSL.
Finally, for those who are discouraged by low voter turnout and polarizing races in the General Election, we have two messages for you:
- It’s not over! We will work with every newly elected city councilmember in King County because we’re all in this together. We have influenced unlikely advocates in the past, and we will work together to achieve common-sense legislation that invests in human services and housing justice.
- Low voter turnout can be remedied by genuine conversation and education – the Coalition does nonpartisan voting rights and registration events that inspire new voters, re-engage lapsed voters, and clarifies who is eligible to vote (hint: it’s most people in Washington!) Are you interested in volunteering to grow the King County electorate? Email Tim at tim[at]homelessinfo[dot]org.