Membership Meeting – June 20th, 2024

Welcome Back, Members!

Happy summer, and thank you for joining us on June 20th for our monthly Membership Meeting. This month, we discussed the statewide application for Summer EBT food benefits (AKA Sun Bucks). We also heard from the King County Regional Homelessness Authority’s Ombuds Office about how they can help providers and unhoused people navigate the homelessness response system and resolve issues. Read on for a summary of what we learned, or watch the training on the Coalition’s YouTube channel

Our Member Services Coordinator, Tim, captivates audiences of all kinds. Credit: Coalition member and cat mom Nancy Kick.

Summer EBT Updates

Summer EBT, or SUN Bucks, is a new benefit launching this summer that will provide $120 per eligible child each summer. This benefit is uniquely accessible to undocumented Washingtonians and other non-citizens. An estimated 550,000 children will be eligible. The program includes those already on SNAP, TANF, or opted into SD’s school meals program automatically – if this is you, no action is required. For others: While the application is not yet live, we learned that applicants will SOON be able to call to apply! 

SUN Bucks Contact Center – Call 1-833-543-3230 between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm (PST) Monday – Friday.  

Once the application goes live, we will share it via our newsletter and give a presentation on how to access the benefit with a DSHS rep at our next General Membership Meeting on July 18 – register for our next meeting at this link

You can access their Summer EBT Outreach Toolkit or visit the DSHS Website for more information.

KCRHA Ombuds Office

Ombudsmen Em Ishiki and Merylin Castelan gave us an overview of how their new, independent office serves community members serviced by KCRHA-contracted shelters and providers. The Ombuds Office’s primary function is to help mitigate challenges, investigate issues experienced by people experiencing homelessness, and provide information for service providers at KCRHA-contracted agencies. Essentially, they are a grievance-handling and customer complaint service desk.

The Ombuds Office assists with a variety of issues, but their services typically fall into three main categories

  • Information About Housing Resources: They provide detailed guidance on available housing options and resources.
  • Support and Problem-Solving: They help address and resolve problems at shelters or housing facilities.
  • Complaint Filing: They assist in filing formal complaints against shelters or service providers, ensuring that grievances are appropriately documented and addressed, and recommending better programming to KCRHA.

The Ombuds Office plays a crucial role in mediating and bridging communication gaps between clients and service providers. Here are a few examples of their impactful work:

  • Mediating Sensitive Conversations: They facilitate conversations between providers and families, especially in delicate situations such as after a family member’s death.
  • Reconnecting Clients to Housing: They advocate for clients to housing providers, helping reinstate services for those who have lost services.
  • Clarifying Eligibility: They elevate and clarify concerns regarding eligibility for services, ensuring clients receive the support they need.

Providers and individuals can access the Ombuds Office’s services by submitting an online application. It’s important to note that all records are public and subject to records requests. For sensitive cases, such as those involving intimate partner violence or domestic violence, they recommended calling the office directly. The Ombuds Office commits to responding to inquiries within 24-48 hours.

In 2025, they plan on launching provider sessions – a mutual learning space to present information and discuss issues. For more information, you can access their presentation slides below or visit their website.

Connect with them via email at ombuds@kcrha.org.

Coalition Staff Announcements 

  • Our Executive Director, Alison, updated us that while we have yet to hear the SCOTUS decision on Grants Pass v. Gloria Johnson, the Coalition plans to mobilize to mitigate potential harm to our most vulnerable residents. You can watch our Community Advocacy Briefing to learn more about this case and how it could affect our community.
  • We welcomed the Coalition staff’s newest member, Noa Guter, our Operations and Systems Manager, and said farewell to our MSW intern, Kristen McFadden.
  • We announced an exciting employment opportunity: Are you a storyteller and an excellent communicator? We are hiring a Communications Lead to help communicate our challenges and victories to varying audiences. If interested, you can apply here. The initial application deadline is Monday, July 1, at 5 pm. 

November Ballot 

Our Community Policy Manager, Hali, updated us on three ballot initiatives voters should know about for the upcoming November ballot.  

  • I-2117 would eliminate the cap-and-trade portion of the Climate Commitment Act, reducing funding for climate projects.
  • I-2109 would repeal the state’s capital gains tax, which funds early learning, child care, and construction through progressive revenue.
  • I-2111 would allow workers to opt out of WA Cares, a long-term care benefit, potentially leaving vulnerable community members without long-term care.

You can read more about these initiatives here.

Member Announcements 

  • Does your non-profit organization need bus tickets for clients and patrons? Devin Konick-Seese shared that King County Human Services’ Bus Tickets Program FRP is open and accepting applications through September 1. 

Questions? Feel free to reach out at HS.BusTicketProgram@kingcounty.gov

  • Sabina Bagirova from ICHS updated us about an important Apple Health Expansion allowing around 13,000 undocumented Washingtonians to enroll for health care coverage – applications will open on June 20. You can learn more about who is eligible and ways to apply here.

Upcoming Opportunities

  • Looking for ways to support youth experiencing homelessness this summer? Help us distribute backpacks and school supplies at our annual back-to-school supply drive, Project Cool, the week of July 22. Email Tim.
  • Join our Public Benefits are Key! Training on Basic Food Benefits Thursday, June 27th, 9 am on Zoom.

And that’s a wrap for June! We hope you enjoy the beautiful PNW summertime and get well-deserved R&R with your friends and family. 

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