November 2022 General Membership Meeting Recap

Welcome Back, Members!

One of the main goals of the Coalition on Homelessness is to keep service providers updated and informed on time-sensitive policy and program changes that may affect our unhoused neighbors.

In this meeting, we discussed a number of impactful policy, program, and advocacy updates that affect client access to resources, including:

  • Impacts of the public charge rule that may affect some non-citizen community members
  • Brief overviews of behavioral health crisis resources in King County, from representatives of:
    • King County Behavioral Health and Recovery Division
    • Crisis Connections
    • Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC)
  • Outcomes of extensive advocacy for King County and City of Seattle budgets that fully fund human services and compensate providers in line with inflation

Check out a recording of the meeting below, as well as presentation slides and summaries.

Change to the Public Charge Rule

Sylvia Miller, Staff Attorney at Colectiva Legal del Pueblo, joined us to share her insights on the impact of the change to the public charge rule.

In summary, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a final rule on the “public charge” regulation on September 8, adding critical protections to immigrant families’ access to social safety net programs, including housing and food benefits. This rule change makes it clear that many health and safety net programs are not considered in a public charge determination used to deny temporary admission into the U.S. or deny requests to change one’s status to lawful permanent resident (i.e., green card holder).

Designating an immigrant American as a ‘public charge’ bases deservingness of citizenship or permanent residency on public output, a determination with is both ableist and racist. In response to the 2019 policy revision, the ACLU predicted substantial harm to immigrants, particularly those with disabilities. This has been seen in significant disenrollment from vital programs such as SNAP, WIC, and Medicaid.

This most recent policy revision, decided in September 2022, no longer considers accessing non-cash benefits as grounds for inadmissibility. This means that our immigrant neighbors can more freely access vital benefits such as Medicaid, SNAP benefits, and housing subsidies such as public housing enrollment, Housing Choice Vouchers, and Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA).

The public charge rule applies to very few people, but many more non-citizens may be deterred from accessing public benefits for which they are eligible due to misinformation and xenophobia directed towards immigrants. Review the slides above to see who is and is not affected by the public charge rule.

Questions? Contact Sylvia at sylvia[at]colectivalegal[dot]org.

Know someone who could benefit from this info? Share this flyer.

A Brief Overview of Crisis Response Systems in King County

Crisis response is an increasingly vital service as are living through an intensifying overdose crisis and are beginning to invest in centralized and enhanced resources such as the 988 hotline and Crisis Care Centers.

We recognize that our system of crisis response is a complicated one and deserves extensive presentation of services, their impacts, and opportunities for improvement. While the Coalition plans on providing a future training that lays out a fuller array of programming and services, we decided to showcase three crisis response providers during our membership meeting.

King County Behavioral Health and Recovery Division (BHRD)

We were joined by Susan Schoeld, Crisis Triage Administrator, who presented on services provided by King County BHRD.

In summary, BHRD is contracted with the WA Health Care Authority to provide programming not funded by Medicaid, such as crisis response services like Crisis Connections and services provided by DESC.

Have questions? Contact Susan at susan.schoeld[at]kingcounty[dot]gov or 206-263-8967.

988 Crisis Services/Crisis Connections

Next, we were joined by Diane Mayes, Clinical Director of 988 Crisis Services, who shared information on the launch of the 988 hotline and how it fits into the existing system of Crisis Connections in King County.

In summary, 988 had a soft launch in July, designed to be an accessible tool for people to use when someone is in behavioral health distress or is having suicidal ideation. 988 is a rebrand of the National Suicide Hotline, which has existed since 2005. Our existing crisis hotline has been enhanced by the federal 988 Act expanded which unified a system of 200+ hotlines across the United States, as well as additional funding provided by WA’s HB 1477. Hotline enhancements include dedicated peer specialists for LGBTQIA+ youth and indigenous community members and will include follow up outreach and careful 911 coordination to ensure positive community impact.

Crisis Connections will be continue managing our behavioral health crisis response line in King County, as reachable by calling 988 or directly to Crisis Connections at 1-866-427-4747.

Have questions? Contact Diane at d.mayes[at]crisisconnections[dot]org.

DESC Mobile Crisis Response

Lastly, we joined by Freyton Castillo, Associate Director of Mobile Response at DESC.

He shared background on three teams provided by DESC for housing-insecure community members having behavioral health crises, including:

  • The Mobile Crisis Team, which works to do outreach with emergency first responders
  • The Behavioral Health Response Team, which does outreach to people following a crisis
  • The Mobile Response Team, which provides outreach to permanent supportive housing or Health Through Housing clients who are in crisis

A Recap of Budget Advocacy

Over the past weeks, the Coalition, its members, and labor organizers, have organized and advocated for Seattle and King County budgets that fully fund services for people experiencing homelessness and compensate their service providers in line with inflation. This year, we had to fight hard for budget allocations that should be considered baseline and have been codified in law. And were successful on many fronts!

How did we do this?

  • Over 200 people sent 700+ emails to city and county councilmembers
  • We held an in-person and virtual rally at Seattle City Hall, which garnered media attention and persuasive speeches by CMs Mosqueda and Herbold
  • We provided office hours and messaging guidance for our service providers who spoke up remotely or in person at city and county council budget hearings

What did we achieve?

  • City of Seattle human service contracts that are not whittled away by inflation
  • $5 million in the King County budget for homeless and housing service providers
  • An understanding from our elected officials that we will continue fight to ensure our sector is funded!

A Few Community Updates

  • Join the Coalition for a very special 2-hour General Membership meeting where we will hold a 2023 legislative preview! Join us on December 15th , 9-11am, for a discussion with advocacy partners and legislators. Register at this link!
  • Join the Recovery Café for “Santa Paws” as co-presented by Seattle Veterinary Van on December 9th, 9am-3pm at 4202 6th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98108. Come on down for hot cocoa, photos with Santa, and resources like the Vet Van, dental support, and foot care.
  • Join the Tenant Law Center, Catholic Immigration Legal Services , and Wellspring Family Services for an Immigration and Housing Know-Your-Rights workshop at Somali Community Services of Seattle. Register at this link! Questions? Contact michellej[at]ccsww[dot]org.