Blogs

The Week In Housing Advocacy - Weeks 3 and 4

Michele Thomas, Director of Policy and Advocacy

Half way through the session, housing issues alive and well!

We are now at the halfway point of the legislative session and we are happy to report that all of our priority issues are still alive and well. Affordable housing and homelessness remains a top issue for many lawmakers, and the near 700 people who came to Olympia on February 2nd for Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day certainly helped!

The last two weeks in Olympia were a flurry of hearings and votes by lawmakers to move bills out of their policy committee before they hit the first deadline or “cutoff” of the session. Tuesday, February 9th brings the second deadline: bills have to clear fiscal committees in order to keep moving. Here is the status of our lead bills and some key support bills as well:
 

Addresses housing options for participants in government assistance programs. (Outlawing Discrimination based on a Renter’s Source of Income.)

HB 1565 by Representative Ormsby

Passed out of House Judiciary Committee on 2/4. Currently in House Rules Committee.

SB 5378 by Senator Miloscia

This bill is dead since it didn’t get a vote in Senate Human Services, Mental Health and Housing Committee. But the House companion (1565) can still pass!

Addresses tenant screening, evictions, and deposit or security refunds under the residential landlord-tenant act.

SB 6413 by Senator Mullet

Passed out of the Senate Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee unanimously on 2/3. Currently in Senate Rules.

HB 2811 by Representative Walkinshaw

Passed out the House Judiciary Committee unanimously on 2/4. Currently in House Rules.

Establishes the homeless student stability and opportunity gap act.

SB 6298 by Senator Frockt

Passed the Senate Committee on Early Learning & K-12 Education unanimously on 1/28. Currently in Senate Ways and Means.

HB 1682 by Representative Fey

Passed out House Appropriations on 1/25. Currently in House Rules.

Authorizes city governing authorities to adopt a property tax exemption program, and county governing authorities to adopt a property tax exemption program for unincorporated jurisdictions, to preserve affordable housing that meets health and quality standards for very low-income households at risk of displacement or that cannot afford market-rate housing.

HB 2544 by Representative Frame

Passed the House Committee on Community Development, Housing and Tribal Affairs on 2/2 and was heard in House Finance on 2/5.

SB 6239 by Senator Fain

Passed the Senate Human Services, Mental Health and Housing Committee on 2/1 and was heard in Senate Ways and Means on 2/4.

Addresses the sale of manufactured/mobile home communities. (Gives nonprofits the opportunity to purchase).

HB 2799 by Representative McBride

Passed House Judiciary on 2/4 and is scheduled for a hearing in House Finance on 2/8 at 8:00 AM.

Revises the definition of "work activity," for purposes of the WorkFirst program, to increase the threshold from twelve months to twenty-four months for vocational educational training, with respect to any individual.

HB 1875 by Representative Walsh

Passed the House last year and is now in House Rules.

 

Time to Speak Up for the Housing Trust Fund!

Budget writers are right now negotiating what to include in their budget proposals. The House will come out first with their budgets, sometime around Presidents Day. Since the budgets are not ready, there is still time to make sure that the Housing Trust Fund is funded at $10 million. Take action today and challenge your colleagues, friends and family to join you

Senator Sharon Nelson and Senate Democrats introduce the “Bring Washington Home Act”

On Thursday, February 4th, SB 6647/Nelson “The Bring Washington Home Act” was introduced. This bill will allocate $186 million to affordable housing & homelessness from the “rainy day fund”. With leverage from tax credits and local sources overall, it will invest a total of $300 million in affordable housing and homelessness programs! This is a bold proposal to address the crisis of homelessness that every community in our state is facing. The most basic duty of government is to protect its residents from danger, and our state is failing if even one person is forced to sleep outdoors. But we are failing miserably when thousands suffer this fate every night. All levels of government need to step up, including the federal government, but the Washington State Legislature must do more.

Senator Nelson’s bold proposal should be endorsed by all lawmakers, but it is possible that it won’t be given a hearing in the Senate. Some lawmakers have asserted that homelessness is only a problem in Seattle. If you’d like to join our letter to editor campaign to shine a spotlight on homelessness in every community in our state, please contact Teresa Clark today.
Check out the press conference on the bill’s release here.
And read our press statement here.

State Releases New Homeless Public School Student Numbers and Finds 9.1% Increase

On February 2nd, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) reported that 35,511 students were homeless in the 2014-15 school year. This is a 9.1 % increase from the previous school year and represents 3.3% of all public school students. OSPI reports that the four-year graduation rate for homeless students in the class of 2015 was 51.9% while the rate for all students was 78.1%.

According to our partners at Columbia Legal Services, the new data reveals that homelessness continues to disproportionately impact students of color. African American, American Indian, and Latino students are 2 to 3 times more likely to be homeless. CLS estimates that between 2,600 and 4,400 of these students may be unaccompanied homeless youth who are not in the custody of a parent or guardian.

You can see how many students were reported as homeless in your local school district here

Lots of Media Interest in bill that bans Source of Income Discrimination

Media interest in a bill can be hard to come by, but there has been a lot of interest in our efforts to outlaw source of income discrimination. These articles are a valuable tool for educating lawmakers and the general public alike. Please spread the word by sharing them via your social media networks. And special thanks to John, Carissa, Mindy, and the many other tenants who have been sharing their personal stories with lawmakers and reporters.

Vouchers little help if landlords reject them
Olympian Editorial Board

Tenants on public aid find some doors closed
By Jordan Schrader, Tacoma News Tribune

Lawmakers try to prevent discrimination of tenants with housing vouchers
By Natasha Chen, KIRO 7

Bring your Board of Directors to Olympia!

With half of the session left to go, there is still time to bring your board of directors to Olympia to meet with lawmakers. And the Housing Alliance can help. If you are interested in learning more about the logistics and benefits of getting your board involved, please contact Teresa Clark at TeresaC@wliha.org. If getting everyone to Olympia seems daunting, you could also consider “virtual meetings” with your lawmakers. Contact us soon to talk more about getting your board involved during this legislative session.

Thank you for your advocacy and don’t forget to take action today for the Housing Trust Fund.

Sincerely,
Michele

There's More To Do - Together.

Rachael Myers, Executive Director

We are grateful to the Seattle King County Coalition on Homelessness for providing leadership in conducting the One Night Count of people experiencing homelessness in King County, and to the volunteers who spent the night documenting this crisis.  

The number of people surviving outside in King County – 4,505 – is heartbreaking. On the morning of January 29th volunteers across King County counted those who are unsheltered - families with babies and school age children, people in wheelchairs, people sleeping on buses, senior citizens, and so many more. Some would leave their tents or cars in the morning to go to a classroom, or to a job. All are human, members of someone’s family, and all are depending on us to do a better job at solving this crisis.

Homelessness has been declared an emergency in Seattle and King County, but this crisis extends beyond these borders. Local communities all across Washington are experiencing a homeless emergency, and it is not a crisis they can solve alone. It will take the combined efforts of community members, local partnerships, the state, and the federal government all working together.

That’s why the Housing Alliance is working hard at the state level to fight for resources like the Housing Trust Fund and to protect the Consolidated Homeless Grant – both of which help local communities address homelessness. It’s why we’re working to improve tenant rights and protections, because unfair and unnecessarily barriers to housing - like landlords refusing to accept a housing voucher - are making this problem worse.

It’s also why we’re calling on the federal government to come to the table as a true partner in addressing the housing crisis that exists all across the nation. 35 years of cuts to federal housing programs have driven much of what we see on the streets today.

And it’s why we’re building a movement - of people who care, who will speak up, and who are willing to do the work.

We know how to solve this crisis.

What’s missing is the political will.

Join us in Olympia to talk to lawmakers on Feb 2 

Contact your legislators today 

Sign the petition calling for 7 million affordable homes across the country 
 



 

The Week In Housing Advocacy - Weeks 1 and 2

Michele Thomas, Director of Policy and Advocacy

The 2016 state legislative session started on January 11th and it’s been a very busy two weeks! This email contains updates on how affordable housing and homelessness priorities are faring, plus a timely and important call to action.

The Week in Housing Advocacy will be published every other week throughout the session. On the off weeks we invite you to participate in advocate conference calls, which will include live updates from Olympia. These calls are open to all Housing Alliance advocates:

Housing Alliance advocate updates live from Olympia

All calls are at 12:00pm via this phone number and code: 1-866-339-4555, 2064429455

February 5
February 19
March 4
March 18

The Week in Housing Advocacy

The good news from Olympia is that affordable housing and homelessness are top-of-mind issues. The Housing Alliance has been joined by many in our efforts to eliminate barriers to housing and address the emergency of homelessness. The bad news is that Olympia is a very polarized environment and it is an extremely tight budget year. Despite these obstacles there are still opportunities to make real progress this session, but that hinges on whether or not lawmakers hear from you. There are many important issues lawmakers are grappling with and they need to hear that you want them to prioritize affordable housing and homelessness. Please take part in this week’s call to action to make sure lawmakers know that we need them to protect low-income renters from discrimination while also building more affordable housing!

Please call your lawmakers in Olympia. You can leave one message for all of your lawmakers (which includes two representatives, one senator and the governor). Call 1-800-562-6000 during 8:00 AM - 8:00 PM Monday through Friday.

Please call Monday with this simple message,

“Please outlaw discrimination based on a renter’s source of income by passing SB 5378 and HB 1565. We need to ensure that low-income renters are given an equal opportunity to apply for housing. And please fund the Housing Trust Fund at $10 million dollars to build homes for people with disabilities, seniors, homeless youth and more.”

Let us know if you get a response from your lawmakers! Email Teresa Clark, our new Mobilization Specialist at Teresac@wliha.org. (and if you haven’t seen it yet, check out Teresa’s blog post to learn more about her extensive background in community organizing.

$10 Million for the Housing Trust Fund

This year we are asking for $10 million to be allocated to the Housing Trust Fund in the Supplemental Capital Budget. This year is the second half of the biennium and the legislature can make additional appropriations and adjustments to the budgets that they passed last year. There is capacity in the Capital Budget to fund the Housing Trust Fund at this level, but lawmakers are getting a lot of asks. In order to secure this funding, lawmakers needs to hear from you.

Here is a quick overview of key talking points you can use when you talk to lawmakers. To get a copy of our Housing Trust Fund briefing paper, click here.

What:

  • The Housing Trust Fund supports community efforts to ensure the availability of safe, healthy, and affordable housing by providing loans and grants for construction, acquisition, and rehabilitation of low-income multi-family and single-family housing
  • A new $10 million investment in the Housing Trust Fund will build over 280 additional permanently affordable homes for homeless families with children, seniors, veterans, homeless youth, farmworkers, people with disabilities and more.

Why:

  • There is a great need for permanent affordable housing in every community in Washington State (share an example from your community).
  • The Point In Time Count in January 2015 counted 19,418 people experiencing homelessness that night, across the state. Over 7,100 of them were unsheltered, including families with children and unaccompanied youth. This is a 3% increase from 2014.

Housing costs are increasing across the state while take-home pay for those with the lowest incomes significantly declined from 2009:



Outlaw Discrimination Based on a Renter’s Source of Income

SB 5378 was heard before the Senate Human Services, Mental Health and Housing Committee on Thursday, January 21. 13 people testified in support, including a for-profit landlord and a fire-fighter injured on the job who is now a section 8 tenant. Many others signed in with support for the bill. The lively hearing went for over an hour and the committee members were very engaged. Be sure to take action today by calling the legislative hotline to urge your lawmakers to pass the bill. But if any of the below is your Senator, you have an especially strong opportunity to support the passage of this bill. Each Senator below is on the committee and their votes are critical. If you live in their district, please call them directly to urge them to quickly pass SB 5378 out of committee:

Senator Email Phone
O'Ban, Steve (R)
Committee Chair
28th LD (Lakewood, Tacoma)
Steve.Oban@leg.wa.gov (360) 786-7654
Miloscia, Mark (R)
Vice Chair, bill sponsor
30th LD (Federal Way)
Mark.Miloscia@leg.wa.gov (360) 786-7658
Darneille, Jeannie (D)
Ranking Minority Member
27th LD (Tacoma)
Jeannie.Darneille@leg.wa.gov (360) 786-7652
Hargrove, Jim (D)
24th LD (Clallum, Jefferson
and Grays Harbor Counties)
Jim.Hargrove@leg.wa.gov (360) 786-7646
Padden, Mike (R)
4th LD (Spokane County)
Mike.Padden@leg.wa.gov (360) 786-7606


Senator Nelson calls for $300 million to be allocated to the emergency of homelessness

Senator Sharon Nelson, 34th LD and Senate Democratic Leader, is calling on her colleagues in the legislature to respond to the emergency of homelessness by allocating $300 million from the state’s “rainy day fund” to the Housing Trust Fund, homelessness services, shelters, Hope Beds and more. Thursday on TVW’s Inside Olympia, Senator Nelson answered questions about her plan. She says, “I believe that we do have an emergency in this state. When you look across the state and see that we have close to 34,000 kids who are homeless, this is a crisis…. We can do better.” See the whole interview and hear what Senator Nelson says about the Housing Trust Fund and other 2016 legislative priorities (and if you attend Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day on February 2nd, you’ll hear from her yourself during the opening ceremony!):



Tight Budget Once Again

Everyone in Olympia was hoping for a ruling on Initiative 1366 sooner than later, so there was a strong sense of relief when on Thursday the King County Superior Court issued their ruling that 1366 is indeed unconstitutional. I-1366 is the Tim Eyman initiative that narrowly passed in November with 51% of the vote. If enacted, the legislature would have to either send a constitutional amendment to the people that would require a 2/3 super majority vote of the legislature to raise taxes or face an automatic decrease in the state sales tax. On April 15, 2016, the state retail sales tax rate would decrease from 6.5 percent to 5.5 percent resulting in a loss of over $8 billion dollars in general fund revenue over the next 6 fiscal years. This would put a $1.5 billion hole in the current budget and then cost the state $1.5 billion each fiscal year. Hence, the strong sense of relief that I-1366 appears to be heading to the dustbin. However, the case could now be sent for additional consideration by the State Supreme Court so the issue may not be finalized yet. 

Read more about the impact of this ruling from the Olympian

Despite the apparent relief from I-1366, the legislature is still in another tight budget year with very little room to address any emerging needs. Even an ask for a modest $3 million for the Consolidated Homelessness Grants is a tall order. But there is still an opportunity to remedy the cuts to homelessness services that are being implemented across the state.

Prevent cuts to homeless services

The Housing Alliance is calling on the legislature to allocate $3 million from the state’s general fund to backfill the cuts to the Consolidated Homeless Grant. The total shortfall is $7.5 million but there is an identified source for the balance, hence our ask of “$3 million in new dollars and $4.5 million in expenditure authority to the Department of Commerce”.

The Housing Alliance needs you to educate lawmakers on the impact of the $7.5 million shortfall. Please contact Teresac@wliha.org with examples of how the cuts are impacting your community. Stories that illustrate the impact of services funded by the State Consolidated Homeless Grants are also needed.

We hope to see you on February 2 for Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day!

The Housing Alliance’s annual lobby day is one of the best opportunities to educate lawmakers on what they can do the help end homelessness and expand opportunities for affordable housing. If you haven’t signed up already, we encourage you to register soon so you can take part in this exciting, effective and informative day of action. Check out the details here.

Progress on Fair Tenant Screening and Eviction Reporting

We are excited to share that, thanks to Senator Mark Mullet, 5th LD, that an agreement has been reached that will make progress on the Fair Tenant Screening Act and on how evictions are reported by tenant screening companies. SB 6413/Mullet and HB 2811/Walkinshaw will make important progress on both these issues, while in exchange allowing landlords to have an additional seven days in which to postmark the return of a deposit. The Housing Alliance strongly supports these bills and encourages lawmakers to vote yes. It is rare to find agreement in which all stakeholders feel that they’ve gained something and the compromise that Senator Mullet has brokered is long-awaited. It will have a significant, positive impact on the lives of Washington’s many tenant households.


Thank you for advocating for affordable housing and ending homelessness. The victories from 2015 and previous legislative sessions show that we can move mountains when we come together to advocate for change. And we can make more progress this session. Please take action today and stay tuned for more advocacy opportunities.

Meet Teresa!

Teresa Clark, Mobilization Specialist

Earlier this week I joined the staff of the Housing Alliance as Mobilization Specialist. As a Seattle-area native and long-time organizer, I am alarmed by the growing rates of homelessness, housing instability, and economic displacement in my region and statewide. I am energized by the opportunity to enter this work at such an urgent and exciting time.

I come to the Housing Alliance from the Washington Community Action Network, where I was most recently the Organizing Director, but have served in many capacities for the better part of 10 years. I'm excited to use my background in community organizing, coalition work, and leadership development to help advance the goals of the Housing Alliance. I especially hope to bring the intersectional perspective I have developed through working on many racial and economic justice issues to my work in housing. 

I have seen over and over as an organizer how strategically mobilizing a community of people can lead to big wins, and I'm honored to start the next chapter of my organizing career as part of the Housing Alliance team.

Stay tuned for more from me on the Housing Alliance's Board Advocacy Project, our Tookit to Combat the Stigma and Criminalization of Homelessness, plus important action alerts throughout the legislative session. I look forward to working together as a community of advocates this session and beyond!

2016 Supplemental Budget 1.0 – Our Analysis

The Housing Alliance Policy and Advocacy Team

Governor Jay Inslee introduced his 2016 Supplemental Budget Proposal on December 17, 2015. The release of the Governor’s budget signifies the beginning of the state’s supplemental budget development process and sets the tone for the upcoming legislative session. We are pleased to report that the Governor’s proposal protects vital homelessness safety net programs and makes a number of positive, targeted investments to expand access to affordable housing. 

Before delving into the budget details—here is a quick refresher of our state’s budget process. Washington’s budget operates on a two-year, biennial calendar. On odd years, such as 2015, the legislature passes a full biennial budget. On even years, like 2016, the legislature passes a smaller supplemental budget that amends the larger budget to reflect the changing needs within our state, such as natural disasters, caseload changes, and emerging issues in our economy and local communities.

The Governor’s Supplemental Operating Budget proposes $2.8 million in new housing services, and his Supplemental Capital Budget proposal includes $11.5 million in new affordable housing investments (scroll to bottom of post for details). In addition to housing investments, the Governor’s budget also appropriates new funding for our state’s mental health system and modest investments for other community needs.

Affordable housing, homelessness, and other important community programs were protected and received modest investments because the Governor opted to close four tax-loopholes to raise revenue. We applaud the Governor’s leadership in examining and closing tax-loopholes. We urge the legislature to build upon these loophole closures and raise additional new revenue so our state has adequate resources to ensure all people have access to safe, healthy, and affordable homes. Check out the Washington State Budget & Policy Center’s blog post for a more in-depth analysis of the tax-loophole closures in the Governor’s proposal.

The Governor took an important step forward by introducing a supplemental budget proposal that protects our homelessness safety net and makes a number of targeted investments to expand access to affordable housing. Thus, we encourage you contact Governor Inslee to thank him for his continued commitment to expanding access to safe, healthy, and affordable homes.   
Here’s how you can contact Governor Jay Inslee: 

Last of all, we hope you can join us in Olympia on February 2, 2016 for our annual Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day! This is a great opportunity to meet directly with your lawmakers during the legislative session and share why funding affordable housing and homeless programs is a priority for you. 

Governor’s Supplemental Budget Summary

Operating Budget Homelessness Safety Net Appropriations 

Governor Inslee’s Operating Budget proposal includes $2.8 million in new housing service investments and protects critical homelessness safety net programs. 

  • $2,800,000 is for supportive housing services and short-term rental assistance for people leaving or at risk of needing inpatient behavioral health services. Services will be delivered through four new housing and recovery services teams modeled after the Housing and Recovery Through Peer Services (HARPS) Program
  • Aged, Blind, and Disabled (ABD) Program is protected—no cuts and no additional investments were made. ABD helps permanently disabled adults and elderly immigrants meet their basic needs by providing modest cash assistance. 
  • Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) is protected—no cuts and no additional investments were made. HEN provides rental and utility assistance to adults with temporary disabilities while they are recovering. 
  • Medical Care Services (MCS) is protected—no cuts and no additional investments were made. MCS provides health coverage to people who receive financial support through the Aged, Blind, and Disabled program but are unable to receive Medicaid health coverage. 
  • SSI Facilitation Services are protected—no cuts and no additional investments were made. These services assist permanently disabled adults reach economic security by applying for federal SSI benefits. 
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is protected—no cuts and no additional investments were made. TANF helps low-income families with children meet their basic needs through a modest cash grant and services. 

Capital Budget Affordable Housing Appropriations

Governor Inslee’s Capital Budget proposal includes $11.5 million in new affordable housing investments. This allocation represents a significant percentage of the overall Capital Budget and includes the following appropriations:

  • $5,000,000 is for the Weatherization Matchmaker Program to help make low-income homes more energy efficient.
  • $2,500,000 is for the Housing Trust Fund Portfolio Preservation Program to preserve existing housing trust fund projects operated by local housing authorities and serving very low-income and homeless households. 
  • $1,500,000 is for rapid housing improvements to bring private market rental homes into compliance with established housing standards in order to improve access to housing for families using rental assistance programs. Property owners will be required to maintain the unit for housing choice voucher recipients for an appropriate period of time after repairs are completed. 
  • $1,275,000 is for a rapid housing acquisition demonstration to develop congregate small unit dwellings or convert single-family homes into multi-family homes. 
  • $1,000,000 is for the Housing Trust Fund to build affordable senior housing. 
  • $125,000 is to create a landlord mitigation fund available to landlords who have rented to tenants with housing choice vouchers and whose rental units are in a jurisdiction that prohibits denying tenancy based solely on the applicant's source of income. 
  • $100,000 is for a study of housing opportunities for veterans experiencing homelessness and the conversion of units to provide permanent supportive housing for geriatric veterans with psychiatric disorders.

 


 

This election, stand for affordable homes for all!

Reiny Cohen, Director of Communications

Be on the lookout, your ballot is arriving this week!

What’s great about voting by mail in Washington is that we have plenty of time to educate ourselves about the issues. The bummer is, sometimes people forget to mail their ballot back in time. Don’t let this happen to you!! This election is critical to our mission - ensuring all people have the opportunity to live in a safe, healthy, affordable home. We made some great progress in 2015 and we need your help to keep the ball rolling. Every vote is important. Mail in your ballot!


2015 Housing Alliance Endorsements

I-1366 NO! (Washington State)

I-1366 is sponsored by Tim Eyman and associates. The intent is to coerce Washington state lawmakers into passing a constitutional amendment to permanently require a two-thirds vote to raise revenue. If the legislature fails to amend the constitution by April 15, 2016 with this requirement, the state sales tax would be cut by 13%, resulting in $8 billion in revenue lost over the next six years. 

The state budget has already been cut by more than $11 billion since 2008. Further reductions would lock into place our inadequate and regressive tax structure and result in drastic cuts for safety net services, public education, and more. We encourage you to VOTE NO!

I-122 YES! (Seattle)

Initiative 122 is a campaign finance reform initiative on the ballot for Seattle residents that would change the way political campaigns are financed to allow every voter to become a campaign donor. It limits big money interests in city policy-making, increases accountability and transparency in local government, and gives ordinary people a stronger voice in local government.

Public campaign financing in other cities has increased voter participation among members of historically disenfranchised communities. We believe that implementing this reform would make it easier for low-income people to impact city elections and city policy decisions. We encourage Seattle residents to VOTE YES!

Check your mailbox to see if your ballot has arrived, and be sure to mail it back by Tues, Nov 3rd! If you do not receive your ballot, contact your county elections office. 


 


 

Announcing a new member of the Housing Alliance family!

Reiny Cohen, Director of Communications

Hello friends! My name is Reiny Cohen, and I am very excited to announce that I am the new Director of Communications for the Housing Alliance!

It's been an interesting journey to get here - I was an on-air personality and behind the scenes production guru for a variety of radio stations in Seattle from 1999-2014. Most recently you may have heard me on 94.9 KUOW/NPR. After a long career in radio I decided to pursue a path in to the advocacy world - I worked on a candidate campaign, followed by a legislative campaign, and finally landed here, where I get to be a voice for an issue I so deeply care about. 

The Housing Alliance does amazing work and I am honored to be joining such a talented and passionate team. I look forward to getting to know the members and will try to cross paths with as many of you as possible.

Stay tuned for exciting news on interactive communications and story telling to come in the near future!

-Reiny

Feel free to contact me any time - reinyc@wliha.org, 206-442-9455 x208

This is not goodbye...

Ben Miksch, Affordable Housing Policy and Advocacy Specialist

 

As some of you may have heard already, tomorrow I will be parting ways with the Housing Alliance and heading off in search of new adventures.

 

This was a decision that I made several months ago, and I have to say that it has was a very hard decision to make. My experience over the last four years here has been an incredible and transformative journey, and it's hard to imagine giving that up.

 

But I keep reminding myself that I'm not really leaving the Housing Alliance. Sure, starting on Friday I won't be an employee of the Housing Alliance. But the Housing Alliance isn't just an organization and its employees. The Housing Alliance exists to serve as a vanguard and a steward to the movement organized around ensuring that everyone in Washington has the opportunity to live in a safe, healthy, affordable home that is part of a thriving community.

 

We're all part of the Housing Alliance, because we all own this movement together.

 

And I can't say enough about what a relief that is to me, because I would never want to say goodbye to the community that I've had the incredible good fortune to join through this work. You all are some of the most incredible people I've ever met, and the depth of the heart, courage, kindness, passion, dedication, and expertise that I've witnessed in this movement is staggering.

 

This is already going on too long, so let me close with this Harry Potter-style moving picture that really feels like a far better description of my experience here and of what I love most about our movement than I'll ever be able to put into words:

 

 

 

Cheers,

--Ben Miksch

 

P.s. If you ever need to get ahold of me, you can always find me at twitter.com/Ben_Miksch.

 

 


 

Welcoming Athena!

Athena Youm, Membership & Development Associate

Hello, supporters and allies!

My name is Athena Youm, and I am the new Membership & Development Associate for the Housing Alliance. I have a background in nonprofit community and organizational development. I come to the Housing Alliance after organizing community outreach, managing a campaign, and coordinating fundraising events for a human rights advocacy organization in South Korea. I am also a returned Peace Corps volunteer, and I have five years of experience working with low-income and marginalized communities.

I am excited at the opportunity to join the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance to ensure that all residents have the opportunity to thrive, and live in safe, healthy, and affordable homes. I am committed to social justice, racial equity, and community empowerment. I understand the importance of advocacy and legislation that not only supports low-income communities, but also strives to breakdown systemic oppression.

A Washington native, it’s amazing to witness the skyrocketing rents and deepening income inequality throughout the state. I remember when $800 seemed too expensive for a studio, but now people are paying $1,000+ for efficiency units. The search for affordable housing has reached a breaking point for the most vulnerable in our communities. It is particularly bad for people/families of color, due to racism and continuing socioeconomic disparities. I’m glad to be part of an organization working to address these issues.

As the newest member of the Housing Alliance team, I’m looking forward to working with such a passionate and dedicated organization, and interacting with Housing Alliance members and community allies. While I’m learning about the ins and outs of housing justice and advocacy, I hope all of our supporters will help us achieve even greater advances for affordable housing during the 2016 legislative session. Hopefully, we’ll have even bigger wins with fewer special sessions.

I’m looking forward to meeting most of you throughout the year! In the meantime, please reach out at anytime to athenay@wliha.org or 206.442.9455 x205.

 



 

California Here She Comes

Honah Thompson, Social Justice Intern

Tomorrow I will be saying goodbye to the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance and the lovely state of Washington. I have learned more than I could have imagined in my year as a part of the United Church of Christ's Justice Leadership Program, and so many of my new skills and understandings come from the amazing folks I have met through my work at the Housing Alliance.

A year ago, I'm not sure I could tell you what a state senator or representative (or a governor for that matter) does. I didn't know how to talk to a law maker about issues that matter to me. I had no idea what it would be like to plan (or even attend) an advocacy day or statewide conference. I would vote whenever it was convenient, but I didn't realize how greatly the issues on the ballot affect my community and the issues I care so much about. Fastfoward to now, I am actively engaging in what is going on at the capitol, I am making phone calls and sending emails to people I know and total strangers to tell them about what is happening in the world of advocacy and policy, and so much more that old Honah would be too afraid to try. 


Now that my internship year is over, I will be moving back to California to attend graduate school at U.C. Berkeley for a masters in social work with a medical concentration. But I couldn't just leave quietly. I had to go out with a Housing Alliance Karaoke session inspired farewell (set to R. Kelly's Ignition (Remix)).

Now, um, usually I don’t do this but uh…
Go ‘head on a break ‘em off wit a lil’ preview of the goodbye speech

No I’m not trying to be rude,
But hey Brianna I’m feeling you
The way you dance break the way you do
Rep that Action Fund crew
That’s why Kate B’s up in yo gill
Tryin’a book conference hotels
Y’all must be an advocacy coach
The way you got me playing the field
So WLIHA gimme that BAP BAP
Lemme give you that EAP EAP
Runnin ‘round the capitol
Red scarves on our shouldos (?)
While they say on the radio

Goodbye Housing Alliance
Fresh advocacy compliance
Ben you rollin that body
Got every corgi here wishin
Joaquin not here to tweet it
I’m like so what I’ll use wit
Come the freakin’ weekend baby
Gonna read Alex’ tool kit

House, House, House, House, House, House, House
House, House, House…. Senate

Facebook a picture of a goat
Rachael email out a meeting note
Alouise and Andrea
Turnin’ out EAP advocacy playas
Yo I’m feelin what you feeling
No more hope and wishing
Rheans bout to order you new keys
And help clean up the kitchen

So gimme a safe house house
Give it to me for dirt cheap
Michele runnin back and fo’
West Seattle to the Capitol
While they say on the radio

Goodbye Housing Alliance
Y’all got chocolate down to a science
Honah’s rolling to Cali
Just north of Silicon Valley
Kate M don’t karaoke
Except when she does karaoke
Come the freaking weekend baby
I’m gonna be outtie

Whiskey poppin at the happy hour
We got food everywhere
Don’t let the intern starve…
We got Kate B to my left
Kate M on my right
We bring em both together we got staffing done right
Then after retreat it’s the (happy hour)
Then after whiskey sour it’s the (karaoke hour)
And round about 5 you gotta (clear the office)
Then take it to yo room and work from home

Can I get a BAP BAP
Can I get an EAP EAP
Make it rain peanut butter
KIND bars by 24’s
While they say on the WLIHA blog

Goodbye Housing Alliance
I left clean towels in the kitchen
Honah rolling that body
‘cause she and Kate B leg wrestlin’
Sippin on French press coffee
One day you’ll make color copies
It’s a freaking Wednesday baby
We can have waffle fun

Goodbye Housing Alliance
I would have stayed but now no chance
I’ll be rolling to Berkeley
And not livin’ in a church
No more Migliore
I gotta get back to the bay
I’ll probably miss you
But I’m not doing social work halfway

Yo we off in this jeep
Heading to Olympia
Blasting the radio
KIND bars in the back of the truck
Bouncing up and down
Because 75 mil
Do the goodbye remix
Honah’s peacin’ out…


 

 


 

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