General Membership Meeting – September 21st, 2023

Welcome Back, Members!

We hope everyone has been soaking up the last rays of summer! 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!

In our October meeting, we covered:

  • An Introduction to our new Community Policy Manager, Hali Willis!
  • An exclusive Budget Advocacy 101 Training to ensure we are all comfortable pushing for responsible budget
  • Important updates on the Seattle Housing Levy and learn how YOU can make sure it passes
  • Community announcements from the Coalition and our hard-working members!
  • A Goodbye Message from Alexis Mercedes Rinck of KCRHA

Budget Advocacy 101 with Hali Wallis & Alison Eisinger

While we have had the pleasure of getting to know our new Hali Willis, this is likely the first time many of our members have seen her in her latest role of Community Policy Manager with the Coalition!

Check out our YouTube video to hear from Hali directly.

Many of our members know that the start of fall is synonymous with budget advocacy, and this budget advocacy season we have a lot of work to do!

Reminders to our members that:

  • Advocacy just means speaking up! It does not have to be more complicated than sharing your experience with policymakers. City and County Councilmembers are not subject matter experts, especially in terms of how to most effectively serve unsheltered and housing insecure community members facing poverty, racism, and ableism. Our service providers and advocates know what works because YOU DO THE WORK.
  • We’re in this together! Nerves are natural, but the Coalition is here to support you to deliver influential public comment and take advocacy-driven actions. We will provide action alerts to provide quick and influential pleas to policymakers, online scheduling tools that make giving public comment easy, and testimony office hours to practice your testimony with our staff, who can deliver constructive feedback to make your words even more powerful!
  • The Coalition is a powerful collective that makes systemic change! When we show up and share our experiences working in the homeless service sector, we are informing policies with our expertise and passion. The Coalition has a proven track record of achieving budgets that compensate human service workers, legislation that improve public benefits systems, and motivating our elected officials to make responsible and compassionate choices.

And passing budgets that compensate our vital human services work is especially important this year, as we are doing our best to support unhoused people in the midst of political vitriol across our region.

This year, our budget advocacy work will remain steadfast to build on past progress. We ask that no human service contracts are cut. We ask that human service workers are compensated fairly. We ask contracts not lose ground to inflation.

Once the Seattle Mayor and King County Executive release their budget proposals at the end of September, our work begins. While Seattle and King County Councils review their respective budgets to make amendments, public comment sessions allow Coalition members and all knowledgeable advocates to inform the budget to reflect our needs in the homeless service sector.

To sign up for public comment on Seattle and King County budgets, visit our Google Site!

Ready to Give Public Comment? Next steps are determining How and to Whom!

Now that you’re sufficiently fired up for budget advocacy, please review a few resources so that you may:

  • Craft a compelling message to policymakers

The Coalition encourages you to introduce yourself and your connection to those experiencing homelessness, provide experience that shows a need for a certain action, and a specific ask. These tips can be useful for in-person or remote public comment, committee testimony, or emails to policymakers. Review our One-Pager, 5 Steps to Crafting an Effective- Advocacy Message below!

The Coalition had the honor or hearing from some of our members who are perennial policy advocates on tips to effectively deliver public comment – check out our YouTube video to hear from:

-Rachel Scott, REACH

-Tamara Bauman, Solid Ground

-Trisha Matthieu, Catholic Community Services

  • Direct your comment to who represents you

If you live or work in Seattle or King County, you may already know that directing public comment is most effective when delivered to the councilmember that represents you!

To find your King County councilmember, visit kingcounty.gov.

To find your Seattle city councilmember, visit seattle.gov.

The Coalition will release information very soon to highlight advocacy priorities and share more opportunities to get involved – stay tuned!

Review this and many more budget advocacy resources on the slides below.

A Farewell Note from a Community Champion

Finally, we thanked Alexis Mercedes Rinck of King County Regional Homelessness Authority, who worked to cultivate a true partnership between government and homeless service providers during the agency launch and was a hard-working liaison to ensure the 5-Year Plan was informed by those doing the work! Hear from Alexis on our YouTube recording.

Stay Tuned for Even More Community Events!

  • The Coalition has endorsed the renewal for the Seattle Housing Levy! Read more about the levy renewal at https://yesforhomes.org/. As the 11/7 General Election approaches, we will host a Phone Banking event on Tuesday, 10/17 in the evening in an effort to ensure Seattle residents VOTE YES on Prop 1! More information to come.
  • Join one of our Voting Rights & Registration Community Trainings in Seattle and Burien to gain knowledge of voter eligibility and resources for those with perceived barriers such as a lack of residential address or felony conviction history AND to volunteer with the Coalition!
  • We have lots in store for our fall and winter General Memberships Meetings:
    • On October 19th, we’ll feature DisAbility Empowerment Center – This local nonprofit provides independent living resources to those with disabilities and is largely peer run, a great resource for meeting the goals of clients with disabilities. We’ll also have more updates on budget advocacy actions! Register at https://bit.ly/GMM-October2023.On November 19th, we’ll feature the King County Veterans Program – This expansive countywide program is a best-kept secret for anyone who has served one day in the military and their household members. Because of their expansive eligibility criteria (inclusive of those not eligible for VA benefits) and easy application process, this is a great resource for clients seeking a variety of assistance, including limited cash assistance! Register at https://bit.ly/GMM-November2023.
    • On December 14th(the 2nd Thursday of December), we’ll have our annual Legislative Preview! This is a space to meet legislators and hear early strategies to make statewide investments in the lives of those experiencgin homelessness and their support networks. Register at https://bit.ly/2024-LegislativePreview.
  • New Training Alert! On Wednesday, 10/11 at 3pm, we’re holding Public Benefits are Key: Accessing Long-Term Care. Long-term care is a need for many people with disabilities who are experiencing homelessness and may face barriers to access due to behavioral challenges or substance use– experts from Seattle Human Services Department, WA DSHS, and Northwest Justice Project will share access points and advocacy tips! Register at https://bit.ly/Accessing-LTC-10-11-23.
  • Join our Public Benefits Shop Talk on Thursday 10/26 at 2pm. This is a forum to discuss client needs, share resources, and build community. This edition we will discuss accessing gender-affirming care for Medicaid clients but is open to any topics that providers bring. Register at https://bit.ly/ProviderShopTalk-10-26-23

Until next time!

-Your friends at the Coalition