Welcome Back, Members!
As we move into an unusually cold, rainy, and snowy March, we have the information you need to stay motivated and updated on how we can come together to support our unhoused neighbors!
In our March 2023 Meeting:
- The Coalition’s own Sara Robbins shared important updates on the state legislative session, the state budget, and important local levies that fund human and health services!
- Larry Gentile from United Way King County shared the utility of countywide tax clinics that can help your clients, your colleagues, and YOU take advantage of tax credits!
- We got updates from Trisha Matthieu of Catholic Community Services on the HEN Program (Housing & Essential Needs) and its new transportation benefits program.
- We got a fantastic systems overview from Alyson Hams, Jennifer Covert, and Maria Jimenez-Zepeda on the available low-cost and no-cost bus passes in King County, like ORCA LIFT and the Subsidized Annual Pass.
Check out the recording below or keep reading for a full recap!
Legislative Session and Budget Updates
from Sara Robbins, Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness
Despite our best efforts, including hundreds of emails sent from our members, SB (Senate Bill) 5480, which aims to improve the HEN improvements, did not make it out of Senate Ways & Means Committee. But all is not lost! The Coalition is working with state legislators to make technical and largescale changes to legislative proposals and will try again next legislative session.
ESHB (Engrossed Substitute House Bill) 1260, which aims to reduce financial burdens on disabled SSI beneficiaries, just passed out of its last policy committee, meaning it is on its way to an important hurdle – the Ways and Means Committee. Want to make sure it passes? Email your legislators to demand that this bill must pass!
Many of us know that after the kerfuffle of the legislative session, finalizing the state budget is a monumental task we must face every other year. Even though we could not improve the HEN program, we know the program as it exists is still effective in providing housing subsidies to thousands of low-income, disabled Washingtonians. Because of this, we must ensure that this benefits program is fully funded! SIGN ON to our letter to the legislature to make your voice heard!
In King County, we have two upcoming levies that could maintain and expand funding for human and health services.
The Crisis Care Center Levy will open five behavioral health centers in King County, with one designated for youth. These clinics will allow voluntary walk-ins, offer immediate crisis response, and have opportunities for longer-term treatment. It will also restore about 100 residential treatment beds that we’ve lost in King County during the pandemic and promote job growth in the behavioral health field. This is a great asset for our community members dealing with mental health and substance use-related crises. Learn more about this levy at this link, and more importantly, vote YES on Prop 1 in the April 25th Special Election!
It is also time to renew the Veterans, Seniors, and Human Services Levy, which currently provides funding for housing and services that support some of the most vulnerable of those experiencing homelessness. The Coalition will be working with King County to ensure it brings in even more revenue than before. Once it is passed by King County Council, this measure will likely appear on our ballots in time for the August 1st Primary Election.
FREE Tax Prep Resources
from Larry Gentile, United Way King County
It’s tax season! And United Way King County is pleased to offer free tax prep assistance.
This service is eligible for anyone earning less than $80,000 per year who has a Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). To file your taxes, you also need to show your Driver’s License or ID.
Services will be available in 17 sites across King County – see slides above for location.
United Way King County wants this service to be inclusive to all – they provide interpretation in many languages and are partnering with El Centro de la Raza to provide ITIN application services for those without Social Security Numbers.
Services also emphasize access to tax credits, like the Earned Income Tax Credit and new Working Families Tax Credit, which put cash in the hands of low income families and individuals!
Note that many sites will stay open past Tax Day – it’s not too late if you miss the April 18th tax filing deadline!
HEN and Transportation Resource Update
from Trisha Matthieu at Catholic Community Services
HEN (Housing and Essential Needs) benefits now offers transportation assistance!
HEN is a housing subsidy available for low-income and disabled Washingtonians – for more info check out our training recap on ABD and HEN. As the HEN program has limited availability, Catholic Community Services wants to provide resource assistance to those who can’t yet access the housing subsidy due to limited supply. Everyone who is HEN-eligible (those who have received DSHS letters stating they are eligible) can enroll in ORCA LIFT and also gets a monthly bag of hygiene and cleaning supplies.
To access these resources: Once a benefit applicant receives an eligibility letter from DSHS, they should call the HEN Resource Line at 206-328-5755 and then visit the Phoenix Center at 2329 Rainier Ave S, Seattle, WA 98144 during walk-in hours (Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, 10am-2pm).
Questions about HEN and the new transportation resource? Email Trisha at pmatthieu[at]ccsww[dot]org.
Subsidized Public Transportation in King County: An Overview
from Alyson Hams, Jennifer Covert, and Maria Jimenez-Zepeda
Our friends from King County Metro provided a comprehensive overview or low-cost and no-cost bus passes, such as ORCA LIFT and the Subsidized Annual Pass.
In addition to ORCA LIFT and the Subsidized Annual Pass, there are low-cost bus passes for youth, seniors, and people with disabilities – check out the slides above for more info!
ORCA LIFT has offered reduced fares since 2015 – usually $1 per ride – on many transit agencies (see slides for a full list). To be eligible for reduced fare through ORCA LIFT, your income must be less than 200% of the federal poverty level, or you be enrolled in public benefits programs such as Medicaid, SNAP, or WIC, or you must out a form attesting you have no current income.
Documentation necessary to enroll in ORCA LIFT is extensive and can include forms of identification like an employee ID card, a court order, or a letter from DSHS – see slides for a full list.
The Subsidized Annual Pass offers free bus fare on King County Metro, Sound Transit. To be eligible for the Subsidized Annual Pass, you must live in King, Snohomish, or Pierce County, be 19 or older, and be enrolled in specific public benefits programs, including TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), PWA (Pregnant Women Assistance), RCA (Refugee Cash Assistance), SSI (Supplemental Security Income), ABD (Aged, Blind, and Disabled), or HEN (Housing and Essential Needs).
Documentation necessary to enroll in the Subsidized Annual Pass is more restrictive, and includes a photo ID, a DSHS award letter, Social Security Number, or ProviderOne card.
Not sure which to apply benefit to apply for? Visit kingcounty.gov/whichorcafare.
To apply for ORCA LIFT or the Subsidized Annual Pass
- Apply online at https://reducedfare.kingcounty.gov/
- Apply by phone via Public Health CHAP line: 800-756-5437
- Apply in person at
- Downtown Public Health ORCA LIFT Office: 201 S Jackson St, Seattle, WA 98104
- Federal Way Public Health Storefront: 1640 S 318th Pl, Suite B, Federal Way, WA 98004
- Catholic Community Services Randolph Carter Center: 100 23rd Ave S, Seattle, WA 98144
- Public Health Outreach Locations (vaccine clinics, pop up events, job fairs) – location listed at www.kingcounty.gov/lift.
Questions about low-cost and no-cost bus passes? Call (206) 477-4200 or email reducedfares[at]kingcounty[dot]gov.
And now, some community updates!
- The Coalition on Homelessness is recruiting new Board Members! Join an informal Info Session on 3/21 – register at this link! Want to submit a board application? Submit at this link by 12pm on 3/31.
- Seattle Public Library, as always, has lots of resources for low-income community members
- Visit a library to tax help from United Way King County and AARP – learn more at www.spl.org/taxhelp
- Central, Rainier Beach, and Capitol Hill libraries are having free phone events! Learn more at https://www.spl.org/search?terms=free+phone
- DSHS has provided new Reduced Cost Service Guides that include surprising information, such financial resources for accessing zoos, parks, and farmer’s markets! Check out these Guides in English and in Spanish.
- Looking for a space to connect with other homeless service provider and program staff? Check out the newly-organized Community Summit on 4/4, 10am-12pm. Register at this link!
- LGBTQ Allyship is hiring a Program Manager!
- LGBTQ Allyship, one our newest members, is committed to building socio-economic mobility for LGBTQIA+ community members in King County and presents vital resources such as tenants’ rights and disability rights awareness, and housing resources. Apply for their Program Manager position at https://lgbtqallyship.bamboohr.com/jobs/view.php?id=24