The Week in Housing Advocacy - Week 6

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Michele Thomas, Director of Policy & Advocacy

An Amazing Day of Advocacy

Last week was extraordinarily active for affordable housing and homelessness advocates. Our annual Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day was by far the highlight of the week with over 650 advocates in Olympia last Tuesday. The energy throughout the day was electric, with determined and enthusiastic advocates all over the capitol campus carrying important messages to their lawmakers. The day started off with special guests state Senate Democratic leader Sen. Sharon Nelson (34th LD-Maury Island) and Geoff Baker a board member of Yakima Valley based Generating Hope/Noah's Ark. Both challenged advocates to stay active beyond Advocacy Day throughout the rest of the session. Susan Russell, a graduate of the Housing Alliance’s Emerging Advocates Program and recent Real Change Vendor of the Year, delivered a riveting and grounding call to action that kept everyone motivated throughout the long and action-packed day.
Susan Russell pictured below (center) with Director of Development Kate McMullen (left) and Homelessness Policy and Advocacy Specialist Kate Baber (right).

Take Action Today!

1) Call your lawmaker to remind them about the messages they heard from Advocacy Day constituents to invest $100 million in affordable housing!

Call 1-800-562-6000, and leave one message for all of your lawmakers! Tell them to:

“Please ask Capital Budget writers to invest $100 million in the Housing Trust Fund.”

Encourage your colleagues, fellow board members, friends, and family to also make the call!

2) Please thank these legislators for their work in supporting source of income discrimination protection by clicking each one below: 

SB 5378 Prime Sponsor Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles (36th LD-Seattle)

HB 1565 Prime Sponsor Representative Timm Ormsby (3rd LD-Spokane)

Representative Jesse Young (26th LD-Gig Harbor)

Big Thanks!

Thank you to everyone who came to Olympia so early in the morning to educate your lawmakers on the important issues we are all working on. Legislators felt your significant impact! Please share your thoughts about your experience. Everyone who registered will be getting an email with a link to a survey so that we can get your feedback. And don’t forget to share your favorite photos from the day with us! We saw a lot of advocates taking selfies and pictures with lawmakers. Please share with us on Facebook.

A huge event like Advocacy Day can’t happen without the amazing crew of volunteers who helped plan and execute the day. Thank you to all the Legislative District Leads and folks who came in the wee hours of Tuesday morning to set-up and help with registration. Thanks to those who helped cleanup, run a workshop, and passed out lunches. Also specific thanks to volunteer photographer Lindsay Brandon and to Firesteel and Seattle University Project on Family Homelessness for the social media support and the on-site and off-site photo booths.

And an extra special thanks to Alouise Urness, Honah Thompson, and the entire Housing Alliance team for the love and hard work that turned Advocacy Day 2015 into a day to be remembered!

Advocacy Day May Be Over, But Your Advocacy Must Continue

We are entering the 7th week of the 15-week session, and you still have a lot of opportunities to weigh in and make a difference. The Housing Alliance is challenging all advocates to commit to contacting your lawmakers at least once each week, until the session is over.

Senator Nelson echoed this challenge in her Advocacy Day morning remarks and encouraged folks to continue to weigh in. She confirmed that it is nearly impossible to advocate to your elected official too often, and lawmakers need to hear from you consistently!

This week, we are encouraging everyone to call the state’s toll-free legislative hotline to ask your lawmakers to invest $100 million in affordable housing. If last week you were in Olympia or if you called or emailed your lawmaker, personalize the below message as a follow-up for this week.

Take action today!

Call your lawmaker to remind them about the messages they heard from constituents at Advocacy Day to invest $100 million in affordable housing!

Call 1-800-562-6000 and leave one message for all of your lawmakers:

“Please ask Capital Budget writers to invest $100 million in the Housing Trust Fund.”

Encourage your colleagues, fellow board members, friends, and family to also make the call!

 

Some Bad News About This Cutoff

Last week marked the first cutoff of the session. All bills had to be voted out of their policy committee by last Friday in order to continue in the process. Unfortunately, one of the Housing Alliance’s top priorities did not make it out of their committees of origin: legislation outlawing housing discrimination based on participation in a government assistance program, HB 1565/Ormsby and SB 5378/Kohl-Welles. That means that the issue is effectively "dead" for the session. But we will be able to start over next year. The bills are companion bills and would have made it illegal for a landlord to refuse to rent to someone solely because of their participation in a government assistance program to help pay their rent (like Section 8 or a state-funded voucher program). This is a very important issue, and you can bet we will be back on it next year.

Thanks to those of you who testified, made calls, met with your lawmakers, and sent letters. You have educated lawmakers and reinforced the importance of the issue for our champions, which will help a lot when we pick this back up next year.

Special thanks to testifiers Tamara Gray, Dana Dildine, Kristina Sawycky, Brenda Anibarro, Jim Adrian, Kurt Wiest, Chris Lowell, Jonathan Grant, and Eric Dunn.

Thanks are also due to the prime sponsors Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles (36th LD-Seattle) and Representative Timm Ormsby (3rd LD-Spokane) and also to Representative Jesse Young (26th LD-Gig Harbor).

Rep. Young worked hard over the last couple of days to try to get the bill out of the House Judiciary Committee. Please take a minute to thank all of them for their work. You can click on their name below to send an email. And please try to add a personal note to the content:

SB 5378 Prime Sponsor Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles (36th LD-Seattle)

HB 1565 Prime Sponsor Representative Timm Ormsby (3rd LD-Spokane)

Representative Jesse Young (26th LD-Gig Harbor)

 

Good News About the Next Cutoff

The good news is that all of our other priority and support issues are still moving! Please go to our bill tracker to quickly see which lead and support bills are still alive. The next cutoff is just one week away and all bills with a fiscal impact have to clear their fiscal committee in their house of origin. Bills that don't have a fiscal impact skip those committees and go straight to the Rules Committee.

This week will be a rush to get many bills through various fiscal committees. Several of our key support issues need to get through their fiscal committee to order to continue in the process. Stand by for another call to action if any of the issues need extra help to keep moving.

Last week was an inspiring reminder of how big, diverse, and strong this movement is. Help us make sure the education and advocacy of Advocacy Day keep going all session long. Pledge to take action each week and mark that by calling your lawmakers today!

Thanks much to all of you who have worked so hard to move these important issues. And stay tuned, because there is a lot more work to be done!
Communications Specialist Joaquin Uy's selfie (above) with Social Media and Advocacy Workshop attendees.
Sen. Sharon Nelson (below) reminding advocates that everyday is an opportunity to talk to your legislators about housing and homelessness issues.

2/23/2015 edit: made corrections to names and updated thanks-yous.

 


 

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