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2012 Advocacy Award Winners

I'm pleased to announce the recipients of our 2012 advocacy awards! I hope you'll join us on May 31st to celebrate these committed individuals and organizations, and the power of advocacy.

Tickets and more information are available here. And now the awardees...

Legislator of the Year - Hans Dunshee, 44th district
The legislative session started with a tiny Capital Budget that did not include an allocation for the Housing Trust Fund, but because of the skillful and determined work of Representative Hans Dunshee, the session ended with more than $67 million to create or preserve more than 1,800 homes for low-income households. This brings the two year budget total to an incredible $118.9 million! Because of Rep. Dunshee's work, the final budget also included an additional $25 million for weatherizing and energy efficiency, to make home costs more affordable for low-income households.

Leadership in Advocacy - Washington State Labor Council
We present this award when we want to recognize an organization we partner with to improve the housing stability of low-income families and individuals. During the 2012 legislative session, the Washington State Labor Council organized and led the effort to pass the “Jobs Now” bonds package, which included funding for the Housing Trust Fund. In addition to the $67 million that will be invested in low-income housing because of the package, the legislation will create 20,000 new jobs - improving the housing and financial security for workers and their families in every community in the state.

Individual Advocate of the Year - Patricia Ridge
Patricia has taken the injustices she experienced while struggling to find safe, affordable housing and has transformed them into opportunities to improve the rights of tenants across the state. Sharing her story helped elected officials to understand the way that tenant screening issues intersect with the child welfare system, with the struggles of survivors of domestic violence, and more. Patricia's willingness to show the real life need for better legislation has been instrumental in moving the Housing Alliance's policy agenda forward. Patricia is a leader with the Washington State Parent Advocacy Committee - a group of parents who work with Children's Home Society on issues related to child welfare, and with other advocacy groups as well.

Organizational Advocate of the Year – Salvation Army, Spokane Regional Services
The Spokane based Salvation Army was a tremendous and skillful advocate for the Housing and Essential Needs Program. After inviting Senator Majority Leader Lisa Brown to a tour of their program in late 2011, the Senator repeatedly shared throughout the legislative session that the tour illustrated the importance of the program. The Salvation Army also gathered stories directly from those requesting services and from staff who worked on the front lines. The stories showed lawmakers  the raw brutality of homelessness and of the critical role that the Housing and Essential Needs program was playing in preventing and ending homelessness. Those stories were powerful and influential and played a significant role in saving the program from elimination and in keeping it fully funded.

We'll also recognize a talented and committed group of legislative leaders, including: Speaker Frank Chopp, Rep. Jeannie Darneille, Sen. David Frockt, Rep. Phyllis Gutierrez Kenney, Sen. Steve Hobbs, Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, Sen. Sharon Nelson, and Sen. Ed Murray.

I hope to see you on May 31st! For more details click here.

Sincerely,
Rachael Myers

Welcome to the Conference on Ending Homelessness!

The 22nd Annual Conference on Ending Homelessness officially beings tomorrow, with the doors opening at 7:30 am. Although this is the 22nd year this conference has been held, this year marks the first conference we've had since the Washington State Coalition for the Homeless and the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance formally joined forces as a single organization. 

This conference is an important chance for people from all across Washington who care about ending homelessness to come together, learn new skills, share strategies, and unite behind the idea that we can end homelessness in Washington State.

The introduction letter from Rachael Myers included in the program includes several important ways you personally can get involved in the movement to end homelessness in Washington:

Become an advocacy partner, and let us help your organization engage your community.

Raise the profile of homelessness in elections through nonpartisan voter engagement.

Take action at key moments by responding to our calls to action.

If you're not signed up on our email list, you can sign up right now using the box on the right of this screen!

Host a tour for elected officials so they can see firsthand how the resources they help direct are making a difference in the communities they represent.

And finally, you can become a member. Click here to sign up! 

If you want to learn more about the Housing Alliance, the work we do, or if you have any other questions about our organization or the conference - please visit our table by the registration booth. We will have Housing Alliance staff on hand to answer questions throughout the conference.

We hope that all of you enjoy the conference, and that everyone who attends takes home new tools, stronger networks, and renewed enthusiasm for the work that still lays ahead of us. Please be sure to tell us about how the conference went by completing the evaluation forms provided in each session, so that we can make next year's conference even better.

Thank you for participating!

 

Tweeting the conference? Use #WAHomelessConf

In order to help keep people informed in real-time during the 22nd Annual Conference on Ending Homelessness next week, the Housing Alliance will be using twitter to make announcements. If you have a twitter account, you can follow us by subscribing to @WLIHA

We are also encouraging attendees at the conference to use our hashtag -- #WAHomelessConf -- to tweet about the conference in real time. We're going to not just be making official updates about events, but doing our best to share the excitement about what we are seeing and hearing. We would love it for you to be a part of that conversation.

There is just no way that you can get over 450 people together, all of whom are dedicated to ending homelessness, and expect for all of that enthusiasm and energy to be contained in a single place! If a presenter says something in a workshop that is just so inspiring, thoughtful, or important that it needs to be heard by more people than just who is in the room with you -- please share it! 
 

Five more days!

Seven more days until the conference!

It's hard to believe that the 22nd Annual Conference on Ending Homelessness is less than a week away! We are really excited about how the conference is shaping up. So far we have over 450 people registered to join us in Yakima to learn new skills, built community and partnerships, and work together to prevent and end homelessness in Washington State. We'll have 48 workshops on topics ranging from Planning a Centralized Intake System to Building Advocacy Into your Organization, many of which will be eligible for Continuing Education Units by the National Association of Social Workers.

We also have some really great keynotes lined up. On Wednesday, State Superintendent Randy Dorn will be speaking to us about the intersections between homelessness and education, and what our school districts are doing to support at-risk children. On Thursday, the Washington State Budget and Policy Center's Andy Nicholas (who some of you may remember from the fantastic webinar he gave for the Housing Alliance in February) and Michael Mitchell will be explaining the state budget and making it fun. On Friday, Nayantara Mehta, Senior Counsel at the Alliance for Justice, will be explaining the laws around what 501(c)(3)s can and can't do (hint: advocacy is definitely a CAN DO!).

There’s lots to be excited about, and still time to register if you haven't yet. We hope to see you all there!

Discussing the conference on twitter? Use the conference hashtag! #WAHomelessConf

 

Should we eliminate HUD?

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development has been in the news quite a bit lately, driven to the forefront of the national debate around budget austerity as a top target for budget cuts. The latest round of proposals have now gone as far as calling for the elimination of the agency entirely. You can look up any number of articles on this - here's one from the Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/hud-targeted-as-budget-pressures-grow/2012/04/17/gIQA86k7OT_story.html

As the article points out, according to HUD and the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, in 2009 4.6 million poor people received aid, while another 14.3 million who needed it did not. That means that for every single person who received assistance, three more needed it but weren't helped. Without HUD, we would have no McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants; we'd have no Housing Choice or VASH vouchers; we'd have no Community Development Block Grants. The elimination of HUD would be followed by a drastic increase in the number of our neighbors falling into homelessness, paired with the elimination of nearly every program in place to help them. It is not hyperbole to say that if HUD were eliminated and nothing put in its place, it would be an outright catastrophe, causing unimaginable levels of human suffering.
 
The news isn't all bad. Yesterday, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (T-HUD) voted on a draft proposal for FY 2013 appropriations that actually includes, among other things, the largest one-year increase to HUD's McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants in nearly 20 years. That is definitely good news. But this is just one step in a long process before a final budget is potentially passed and sent to President Obama for his signature, and it will be up to advocates like us to continue fighting to protect the social services and safety nets our neighbors depend on.
 
Federal spending, cuts, budget, taxes, debt - these issues continue to have a huge impact on our ability to ensure that everyone has access to a safe, healthy, and affordable home. The week after next, we're going to be having a Learn at Lunch Webinar exploring these issues in depth. We have two really incredible guests slated to join us: Doug Rice, the Senior Housing Policy Analyst with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and Michael Linden, the Director for Tax and Budget Policy at the Center for American Progress. It will be Thursday, May 3rd at 12:00p, so save the date and we'll have the call-in information available shortly. We hope you can join us.
 
So what do you think? Should we eliminate HUD entirely? Feel free to answer in the comments!

This Week in Housing Advocacy: Now it's time to say thank you

After months of relentless and strategic advocacy – we’ve done it. Together, we’ve won new state investments in safe, healthy and affordable homes. We’ve secured funding for the services that prevent and end homelessness. We’ve taken Washington further in eliminating barriers to housing – with the opportunity planted for more progress.  We’ve protected critical safety-net services from cuts and we’ve broken through on revenue and set the stage for more of it next year.


The successes this year have everything to do with you and your fellow advocates choosing to stand up and demand a new path forward. Together, housing and homelessness advocates held dozens of meetings with elected officials, made hundreds of phone calls, and sent thousands of messages. Congratulations – it worked.

We hope you are as proud as we are and that you will join with us this summer and fall as we use the interim to educate elected officials and to build even stronger champions. This is critical because we will be back next year with another ambitious agenda that will continue to move Washington closer to being a place where everyone has the opportunity to live in a safe, healthy, affordable home.

In the meantime, it is time to thank our friends and let them know we look forward to working with them next year. Please take a minute to send one last email to the elected officials in Olympia who made affordable housing and homelessness a priority. 

It’s time to thank our friendsSaying thank you is important, especially when our friends have worked as hard as they have. The legislature stayed up all night on the 10th, working into the morning on the 11th to reach a budget deal. And our allies stood firm to their commitment to protect the safety net and to pass a jobs package that included the Housing Trust Fund. 

It was a very long, hard session and we want to make sure they know we were watching. Please take a minute to say thanksClick here to send your message to all of our champions.

Outcomes for the Housing Trust Fund

The session ended with $67.1 million allocated for the Housing Trust Fund. This is on top of the $50 million allocated last year. Including a $1.8 million set-aside in this year's allocation, the biennial total is $118.9 million. That is an incredible allocation that will build or preserve over 1,832 safe, healthy and affordable homes.

Low income housing was funded through two bills this year: SB 6074 and SB 5127. Total funds for creating and preserving affordable homes = $93.9 million!  Here's how that breaks down:

SB 6074 -
People with developmental disabilities: $2.9 million
People with Chronic Mental Illness: $1.125 million
Housing for the Homeless: $28.944 million
Housing for Farmworkers: $6.215 million
Housing for low-income Households: $2.982 million
Housing Competitive Pool (of which $1.5 M must be used for a demonstration project that houses the homeless with low cost living quarters.) $4.530 M

SB 5127 -
Housing for Families with Children: $8.250 million
Housing for Seniors, People with Physical Disabilities: $9.666 million
Housing for People at Risk of Homelessness: $2.5 million

Set-asides in 6074 -
LIHI: $1.8 million

Weatherization in SB 6074 -
Energy Matchmakers: $10 million
WSU Community Energy Efficiency Program: $15 million

Total for the Housing Trust Fund = $67,112,000
Total for Affordable Housing (with $1.8 M set-aside) = $68,912,000
Total for Affordable Housing with Weatherization = $93,912,000


Again, thank you for your extraordinary commitment to expanding access to affordable housing and to ending homelessness. Stay tuned for opportunities throughout the interim to keep advocating. We will keep in touch –

With gratitude,
Michele 

We did it!

We didn't believe it was possible - chalk it up to the fact that it was after midnight and those of us who were still up waiting and watching were tired, and perhaps slightly grouchy - but the legislature continued working through the night and finished the special session.

The results? $67.1 million for the Housing Trust Fund! Housing and Essential Needs fully funded! No cuts to TANF! Disability Lifeline Medical saved! 

This was an extraordinary outcome that is due in large part to the hard work and commitment of advocates and lawmakers who refused to negotiate away the security of low-income families and individuals in our state.

Thank you for your part in this result. We'll share more in the coming days.

Rachael Myers

This Week in Housing Advocacy: Keep it Coming!

The current special session is required to end on Tuesday. Whether or not a budget agreement will be reached by then is still unknown. There has been a lot of action in the last couple of days with the House passing several new reform bills and another Operating Budget, and with the Senate Ways and Means Committee holding a hearing today (Friday) on several bills, including the House’s budget.

As you know, much is at stake. Funding hangs in the balance for the Housing Trust Fund, for Housing and Essential Needs, TANF, Disability Lifeline Medical and more. We can’t predict how this session will end, but we know that if we keep our advocacy going, that we still have a chance to influence the outcome. As Senator Nelson shared with Housing Alliance members recently, "The next few days of this special session are critical... we still have an opportunity to influence what is happening in this session. Every time you send an email and every time you engage with your legislators, you are winning and you are holding us accountable."

Help keep the roar to protect safety net services and to fund the Housing Trust Fund loud and strong!

Please take action today.

We are in the final days of the first special session and yet Housing and Essential Needs, the Housing Trust Fund, TANF and Disability Lifeline Medical are still at risk of deep cuts or worse, no funding at all. But as Senator Nelson says, "The fight for safety-net services will not be won without you."

If you haven’t yet taken action, please do it now. If you haven’t done it this week, please do it today. Please also ask others to join you in your advocacy. Forward this email to your board, your friends or your family. Tell them what is at stake, why you care and how much their voice matters.

Thank you for your tireless advocacy – we will keep you updated with any significant developments,
Michele

PS — Please consider joining us for the 22nd Annual Conference on Ending Homelessness in Yakima May 16-18.
Registration is now open -
click here for more info.

 

The 99% Spring Action Training Next Week

The 99% Spring, inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement, has a bold plan to train 100,000 people across the country next week on the history of social change movements, how our economy got to where it is today, and how to organize effectively (and in C3 friendly ways!) to fight for social justice.

Several Our Economic Future coalition partners are working hard to pull off great trainings in almost every city in Washington, although from the looks of things classes are filling up fast as hundreds of people have already signed up in Washington. 

Housing continues to remain out of reach for many Washingtonians, and more and more people are falling onto a safety net that is getting more frayed with each budget. This is a chance for us to maintain and broaden the change-making energy, and learn how we can use education and advocacy to ensure that every Washingtonian has a safe, healthy, affordable place they can call home.

The goal of the movement is to come together and shift the political landscape in America. Will you join in?

Click here to sign up for a 99% Spring Action Training in your area:

http://www.the99spring.com/route.php?type=participant&code=99WLIHA

Thank you for your advocacy,

--Ben

Great Special Briefing with Senator Nelson

Thank you everyone who was able to join us for our amazing special briefing with Senator Sharon Nelson (D-34), and a big thank you to the Senator herself for joining us, and for being so candid and so inspiring.

For those of you who weren't able to join, Senator Nelson talked at length about how important your advocacy is, especially right now during what may be our last opportunity to influence the special session.

She pointed out that there isn't a budget deal yet, but the cutoff to pass a budget without triggering another special session is next Tuesday. Considering also that it takes staff a few days to actually convert a deal into legislative language, that means we could be in the final few days of negotiations before a final budget deal is passed.

We asked Senator Nelson what she thought about the message we've heard, where advocates feel like they're being asked to send the same message over and over again. This was her response:

"You can never send too many emails -- it is ok to repeat yourself. We don't want those who oppose funding the safety net to be louder -- your roar must be louder than theirs!"

So please, take a minute to click on the following link, personalize the text, and send a letter to your legislator.

We need to make sure our roar is louder than theirs. 

Click here!

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