housing action

Conference on Ending Homelessness
October 4-6, 2023


For pricing and to register, visit the COEH registration page.

Keynote Speakers

Dr. Jelani CobbDr. Jelani Cobb holding a microphone and speaking to an audience. He is wearing a black shirt and a gray suit jacket.
Dean, Columbia Journalism, Columbia University

Facing the Past to Forge a Better Future

In the fight for racial justice, we must face the past to forge a better future, says our closing keynoter, Jelani Cobb, New Yorker Staff Writer, Columbia Journalism School Dean, and prominent speaker on race, history, politics and culture in America, Jelani emerges as a clear voice in the fight for a better America.

A PBS Frontline correspondent for two critically acclaimed documentaries, Policing the Police and Whose Vote Counts, Jelani explores the enormous complexities of race and inequality, while offering guidance and hope for the future. He is a long-time writer for The New Yorker and editor of its recent anthology collection The Matter of Black Lives.

A photo of Tram Hoang, Senior Associate, Housing, for PolicyLink.Tram Hoang
Senior Associate, Housing, PolicyLink

Frontline Worker Solidarity In The Housing Justice Movement: Our Collective Roles to Build Momentum for Rent Stabilization

From Pasadena, California to Portland, Maine, from Montgomery County, Maryland to the nation’s capital - cities, counties, states, and even the federal government are recognizing the necessary role of rent stabilization policies in ending homelessness and repairing our broken housing system. Rent stabilization doesn’t solve everything (no silver bullets!) but we can’t solve the housing crisis without it. In this keynote, Tram Hoang, former campaign manager of the St. Paul rent stabilization ballot initiative campaign, will walk us through the emerging movement for rent stabilization, why it’s such an impactful policy, and how direct service workers have a powerful edge in helping these campaigns grow and succeed.

Tram Hoang supports the PolicyLink housing team in transforming our nation’s housing system through policy analysis, research and advocacy, narrative change, and building the capacity of our partners in movement spaces. She brings experience working on ballot initiative campaigns, tenant protections, and housing and equitable development issues in roles with non-profit community developers, city planning departments, and policy advocacy organizations. In 2021, Tram led the historic Keep St. Paul Home campaign, which saw St. Paul voters pass the strongest rent stabilization ordinance in the country. Tram holds a Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, where she was a Charles R. Krusell Fellow in Community Development at the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs.

Dr. David Boarder GilesDr. David Boarder Giles looking at the camera. He is a white shirt, brown suit jacket, and thick-rimmed black glasses.
Curriculum Director and Senior Lecturer, Deakin University

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the political and economic transformations it set in motion held dramatic implications for unhoused people and the politics of homelessness in cities like Seattle. Some were predictable and troubling, such as the growth of tent and vehicular encampments and housing insecurity. Some were unprecedented and encouraging, such as the expansion of new forms of emergency shelter, or Seattle’s temporary moratorium on the clearance of encampments, colloquially called “sweeps”, after a decade of their steady escalation. Yet with the pandemic emergency declared “over” by some governing bodies, some cities have escalated these sweeps yet again. In 2022 alone, for example, over 900 encampments were cleared in Seattle, displacing and dispossessing many of the city’s most vulnerable residents. This talk traces the implications of that escalation, the longer-term trends that it reflects, and the emerging post-pandemic order it may represent. I will explore the recent history of Seattle’s “sweeps” and the lessons they hold for the politics of aid, vulnerability, and unsheltered survival in the shadow of an urban crisis that predated the pandemic, but was thrown into stark relief by it.

Breakout Sessions

P1 - Advocacy Works: Organizing for State Legislative Victories

Calling all advocates! Advocacy is a year-round activity, and the time when your state lawmakers are home is especially important – and that is now! Learn how you can help lay the groundwork for wins during the legislative interim and how you can effectively advocate during the state legislative session as well! Hear about the many recent victories, how we accomplished them, and how you can help secure more wins. You’ll also get a preview of upcoming homelessness and housing policy priorities.

  • Mindy Woods, Program Manager, City of Edmonds
  • Mariam Ahmed, Public Policy and Advocacy Coordinator, YWCA

P2 - Burnout and Turnover: Findings from Recent Reports on Washington’s Homeless Service Provider Workforce

In response to serious staffing shortages and turnover, the state legislature has funded two studies aimed at understanding and addressing the challenges that Washington's homeless service provider workforce faces. Join this session to hear the findings from a trauma study and a broader workforce report – including recommendations to the legislature that have not yet been publicly released – and what you can do to advance those recommendations, whatever your vantage point.

  • Natalia Koss Vallejo, Project Manager, BDS Planning & Urban Design

A1 - From the Systems to the Street, Part 1: Flex Funds for Young People Exiting Systems of Care (1.0 CEU)

In Washington, young people exiting systems of care are more likely to experience homelessness, especially BIPOC and LGBTQ+. Diversion is a proven strategy to get young people what they need during a housing crisis. By working with a community partner, we can bring flex funding to young people to end their crisis in a trauma-informed, youth-centered way!

  • Dimitri Groce, MSW, Strategic Advisor of Housing Initiatives, Building Changes
  • Kiki Serantes, Training & Engagement Director, A Way Home Washington
  • Julius Henrichsen, Prevention and Diversion Training Manager, A Way Home Washington

A2 - Building Housing Equity for 2STGD (Two Spirit, Trans, Gender Diverse) Community (1.0 CEU)

Join us as we dream up a collaborative organizational housing resource network through conversation on how gender segregation in shelters and the overlapping emergency state of politics has undermined and 
upended housing safety initiatives for 2STGD communities locally and nationally.

  • Ganesha Gold Buffalo, SAFE House Program Director, Gender Justice League

A3 - Putting Down the Master’s Tools: Transforming Ourselves to Transform the World (1.0 CEU)

James Baldwin said “The great force of history comes from the fact we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it…History is Literally present in all that we Do.” 

Despite our willingness and commitment to evoke and create anti-oppressive cultures within ourselves, our work, our communities, and our world, the embedded history of being cultivated and groomed in a society steeped in oppressive practices often leaves us unconsciously perpetuating the very oppressions we are attempting to dismantle. This session is the first installment of what is sure to become a training course on how to identify, combat and begin to unlearn internalized, institutional, communal, and societal oppressions. It is our belief that once we learn to put down the “Master’s tools” we can begin to pick up the tools of liberation; then and only then will we begin to create the liberated world we desire to be a part of.

  • Ma.Caroline Lopez, MSW, Director of Equity, Racial Justice, and Culture, Housing Alliance
  • Tasha West-Baker, Director of People and Culture, Building Changes
  • Kelly Wise, Director of People & Culture, Grantmakers for Effective Organizations

A4 - State Legislative Roundtable

The last state legislative session saw the continuation of significant budget investments to build subsidized, affordable homes but missed important opportunities to create permanent funding for the Housing Trust Fund and to address a root cause of homelessness by protecting tenants from excessive rent increases. Join Housing Alliance Executive Director, Rachael Myers, and key state lawmakers for a virtual roundtable discussion about what to expect in 2024 and how stakeholders can advance solutions to end our state’s affordable housing and homelessness crisis.

  • Rachael Myers, MSW, Executive Director, Washington Low Income Housing Alliance
  • Representative Nicole Macri, 43rd LD
  • Senator Patty Kuderer, 48th LD
  • Representative Emily Alvarado, 34th LD
  • Senator Yasmin Trudeau, 27th LD

A5 - From the Systems to the Street, Part 2: The Role of Civil Legal Aid in Fulfilling Washington’s Obligation to Provide Youth Leaving Systems of Care (1.0 CEU)

In 2018, Washington state passed Substitute Senate Bill 6560 to ensure that youth & young adults discharged from publicly funded systems of care would exit quickly into safe and stable housing. In this session, we will discuss findings from a recent report on SSB 6560 to understand progress made and gaps that remain to fulfill this promise. We will also explore how legal services can help reduce & prevent housing instability for young people.

  • Erin Shea McCann, JD, Director of Policy and Systemic Advocacy, Legal Council for Youth and Children

A6 - The Importance of Culturally Relevant Services (1.0 CEU) 

During this session, participants will learn about the challenges faced by Native women and families and the importance of providing culturally relevant services. We will discuss the negative impacts of cultural erasure and assimilation and how it affects the well-being of Native women and families. We will also share best practices for providing culturally relevant services that honor the traditions and values of Native cultures.

  • Yvette Perrantes, Homeless Response Team Program Manager, Mother Nation

A7 - Washington State Landlord Mitigation and Registration (1.0 CEU)

First established in 2018, Washington state’s Landlord Mitigation Law provides landlords with an incentive and added security to work with tenants receiving rental assistance. Learn about recent changes to Landlord Mitigation Programs and the implementation of the new Washington State Landlord Registration through the Washington State Department of Commerce.

  • Nicholas Yuva, Landlord Mitigation Supervisor, Washington State Department of Commerce

A8 - DSHS Community Services Division (CSD) Programs Overview (1.0 CEU)

Join us and learn about Basic Food, TANF/WorkFirst, Aged, Blind, or Disabled (ABD), the HEN Referral Program, Ongoing Additional Requirements, Medicaid and more. We’ll discuss program benefits, eligibility rules, accessing services through local CSOs, mobile offices, the statewide customer service contact center, and Washington Connection. We’ll also have time for questions.

  • Bryan D. Tso, Social and Health Program Consultant, Social Services Policy, Community Services Division, Department of Social and Health Services
  • Melissa Kenney, Department of Social and Health Services
  • Britney Miller, Department of Social and Health Services

A9 - McKinney-Vento and School District Partnerships (1.0 CEU)

Centering equitable access for students experiencing homelessness, we will highlight key pieces of the McKinney-Vento mandate, the importances of collaborating with your local school district(s), and share ways to build and maintain school/housing partnerships.

  • Samie Iverson, MSW, LSWAI, Senior Manager of Education, Building Changes
  • Joey Heilman, MSW, Senior Education Strategy Specialist, Building Changes

A10 - Back to Basics: Poverty is Not a Moral Failure (1.0 CEU) 

Scarcity mindset and individual and community level burnout can support attitudes of deserving and undeserving poor, jeopardizing decades of equity work. If you’ve ever heard yourself or someone else say "they aren’t ready for housing, they don’t want help, they haven’t hit rock bottom yet" ... then this session is for you!

  • Meg Martin, LICSW, CPC, Executive Director, Interfaith Works

A11 - Permanent Supportive Housing Updates from Washington State Department Of Commerce (1.0 CEU)

Last year, the Washington State Department of Commerce created a dedicated unit to expand and improve
the quality of permanent supportive housing (PSH). Learn about the programs and initiatives associated with the unit such as the PSH advisory committee, the PSH inventory, new resources through document recording fees as well as the goals to align services, capital and rent assistance.

  • Dani Rylander, Permanent Supportive Housing Subsidy Program Manager, Office of Apple Health and Homes and Permanent Supportive Housing, Housing Division, Washington State Department of Commerce

A12 - Apple Health and Homes and Permanent Supportive Housing Best Practices (1.0 CEU)

Social determinants of health (SDOH) are the environmental conditions where people are born, live, age, learn, work, and play that affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks. SDOH include economic stability (income), education, transportation, nutrition and housing. Housing instability is traumatic and can exacerbate symptoms of a person’s mental health and substance use challenges. ESHB1866, which passed in the 2022 Legislative session, spotlights how stable housing is a prerequisite to addressing behavioral health and the lack of housing is a precursor to poor health outcomes. This bill also created the Office of Apple Health & Homes within the Housing Division at the Department of Commerce. Apple Health & Homes and is a multi-systemic approach to bring the 3 legs of the housing stool (buildings/capital, rent assistance/housing subsidies, services) together to help individuals obtain and maintain housing. This session will introduce the goals and strategies of Apple Health & Homes as we partner with the Health Care Authority and Department of Social and Health Services to marry evidence-based practice supportive housing services through Foundational Community Supports and permanent supportive housing resources.

  • Melodie Pazolt, Managing Director, Office of Apple Health and Homes
  • Scott Tankersley, FCS Program Administrator, Healthcare Authority
  • Whitney Joy Howard, MSW, DSHS Aging and Longterm Support Administrator, ALTSA

B1 - Exploring Upstream Work to Prevent Family Homelessness (1.0 CEU)

Homelessness has significant impacts on families, particularly children.  Mary's Place has been exploring ways to reduce trauma by preventing homelessness for families with children altogether.  In this session, Mary's Place will share their journey to shift their work upstream; experiences, lessons learned and ongoing challenges with homelessness prevention work.   

  • Alyson Moon, MSW, Director of Community Impact, Mary’s Place
  • Zakeea Sykes, Prevention Specialist, Mary's Place
  • Miriam Clithero, Prevention & Stability Director, Mary's Place

B2 - Restorative Justice Practices with Unhoused Communities (1.0 CEU) 

What is Restorative Justice and how is it being used when working with unhoused folks? This presentation will feature a literature review of how nonprofits are implementing restorative justice practices and how they’re uplifting BIPOC. We will also discuss how REACH/LEAD is starting to implement restorative justice policies at our agency. 

  • Kirby Rodriguez, MSW, Screening and Outreach Coordinator, Evergreen Treatment Services

B3 - Lessons Learned from Implementing HB 1590, the Affordable Housing Tax

Over 30 cities and counties in Washington have passed the 1/10th of one percent sales tax in recent years. Join this session to hear from a panel of local proponents who will share their success stories, how they have ensured priority investments locally, and engage attendees in a discussion.

  • Ryan Mello, Pierce County Council Chair
  • Sarah Martinez, Peninsula Housing Authority

B4 - Building Language Justice for our Communities: An Experiential Race Equity Session

Community Language Cooperative says that "Language Justice is a key practice used in social justice movements in order to create shared power, practice inclusion and dismantle traditional systems of oppression that have traditionally disenfranchised non-English speakers." This session is meant to be an experience of changing perspective as the speakers will use their native languages and English speakers will hear from translators about the need for language justice, including examples of inequities and injustice in Washington communities and systems.

  • Dania Otto, Executive Director, Sakura 39ers Youth Association
  • Additional speakers to be announced

B5 - Lessons from Camp Hope (1.0 CEU)

This session will focus on lessons learned from the Spokane Rights of Way (ROW) Initiative, an effort focused on beneficial housing outcomes for unsheltered individuals living on WSDOT Right of Way land, including Camp Hope. The unique panel of service providers will discuss lessons learned, collaborative techniques, challenges from a flawed social service system, and recommendations for solutions.

  • Layne Pavey, MSW, LISCW, CPC, Executive Director, Revive Counseling Spokane

B6 - Recognizing and Supporting People With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) in the Homelessness System (1.0 CEU)

Data suggests 1 out of 4 homeless people in King County have an intellectual disability or memory impairment. That increases to 4 out of 10 among the chronically homeless. Moreover, recent studies indicate that more than 37,000 adults with IDD in Washington State are facing housing insecurity. This session will explore how the current housing market impacts the Intellectual and Developmental Disability community, and what they need from the professionals around them to find affordable and stable housing. We will also examine the unique challenges and experiences faced by these individuals and families that make them susceptible to homelessness, including firsthand accounts from those with lived experiences.

  • Stacy Dym, Executive Director, The Arc of Washington State
  • Thomas Bethesda, Housing Program Manager, The Arc of King County
  • Rachel Nemhauser, Community and Family Program Manager, The Arc of King County

B7 - Vicarious Trauma & Compassion Fatigue: Mitigate, Manage, & Prevent (1.0 CEU)

Part of addressing vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue means confronting the ways values of white supremacy culture (e.g. perfectionism, power hoarding, individualism, manufactured urgency) condition us to ignore our needs as service providers, and promote unmitigated vicarious trauma symptoms. Additionally, we know that direct service providers in organizations are disproportionally made up of BIPOC staff and/or staff with lived experience as compared to management in those same organizations. Often, however, organizations don’t support these communities with the recognition that they are at most risk for developing vicarious trauma symptoms due to the ways in which they see themselves reflected in the populations they serve. This training speaks to the concept of trauma-mastery, and acknowledges that staff with marginalized identities are at higher risk for burnout than their white colleagues or colleagues who do not have lived-experience.

  • Lexi Alberts, LICSW, Private Practice Therapist and Staff Trainer, Lexi Alberts Consulting

B8 - Justicia de vivienda: Leading With Language Justice to Removing Barriers in Tenant Organizing, Education and Leadership

The Tenants Union of Washington State has incorporated language justice into tenant hotlines, workshops, meetings, clinics and organizing. This approach removes barriers and uplifts impacted tenants so they can have their voices heard. Language Justice is also incorporated into membership and participation in the statewide and translocal TU Renter Assemblies.

  • Talauna Reed, CPC, Membership Coordinator/Community Organizer, Tenants Union of Washington
  • Terri Anderson, Spokane Executive & Statewide Policy Director, Tenants Union of Washington
  • Salvador Ricenos, Consejero, Educador y Defensor de Inquilinos (Counselor, Educator and Advocate), Tenants Union of Washington

B9 - The Limitations of Self Reporting Vulnerability: Interview Skills Matter (1.0 CEU)

As systems continue to refine the ways in which they prioritize vital and scarce resources, conversations about vulnerability-based placement continue to produce many opinions about who should or should not gain access to the system, and how. Thurston County's Housing Equity Assessment Tool (HEAT) has significantly improved equitable outcomes for people experiencing homelessness. Even so, there are still many limitations to people self reporting, and the skills of the interviewer are paramount to accurate assessments being completed.  Join this session to build more effective interview skills for Intake and Assessment in Coordinated Entry, Permanent Supportive Housing, Shelter, and other emergency housing programs.

  • Meg Martin, LICSW, CPC, Executive Director, Interfaith Works
  • Keylee Marineau, Thurston County

B10 - Creating Seamless Systems for Survivors (1.0 CEU)

This session will explore efforts underway to create synergy and coordination between the homeless service system and the domestic violence system to lessen the burden on survivors and create seamless services across systems.

  • Alyson Moon, MSW, Director of Community Impact, Mary’s Place
  • Lea Aromin, MSW, Co-Executive Director – Programs, Coalition Ending Gender Based Violence

B11 - Mapping and Braiding State and Federal Supportive Housing Resources (1.0 CEU)

Safe, stable, and affordable housing remains out of reach for many Washingtonians, ultimately undermining wellbeing and access to needed care. Join this session to learn about an array of supportive housing services and rental assistance programs including how to braid these resources together to maximize their impact for participants.

  • Dani Rylander, Permanent Supportive Housing Subsidy Program Manager, Office of Apple Health and Homes and Permanent Supportive Housing, Housing Division, Washington State Department of Commerce
  • Kimberly Castle, Foundational Community Supports Quality and Alignment Analyst, Washington State Health Care Authority
  • Scott Tankersley, Housing Subsidy Program Manager, Washington State Health Care Authority
  • Whitney Joy Howard, Supportive Housing Unit Manager, DSHS Aging and Long-Term Support Administration (ALTSA)

B12 - Using the Housing Justice Narrative to Broaden Our Base and Catalyze Change

This session will present the Housing Justice Narrative Toolkit as designed by housing and organizers from across the nation. The toolkit provides pathways for embedding a narrative that can create a new tipping point in public consciousness and create the conditions necessary to advance housing justice and broaden our base.

  • Duaa-Rahemaah Hunter, Statewide Organizer, Washington Low Income Housing Alliance
  • Laura Hughes, Director of Narrative Strategy, Policy Link
  • Michelle Pappas, Spokane Lead, Resident Action Project
  • Michael Anderson, Director, Housing Trust Fund Project, Community Change

Release of the "Road to Housing Justice"

SESSION POSTPONED: Due to staff illness, the release of the Road to Housing Justice has been postponed. We invite you to join us online October 30 at 4pm to take action together and learn about what it will take to achieve true housing justice in Washington! We apologize for the delay, but look forward to seeing you then. 

Want a reminder email? Drop us your email here.

Join the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance for this special pre-conference release of a new roadmap to housing justice. The roadmap, and the future it imagines, is a call to action to everyone who cares about our communities. It lays out the policy changes needed to ensure everyone in Washington has a home. It comes from deep listening and a shared history of struggle alongside members and allies around the state, and is rooted in policy expertise, data, stories, lived experience, history, and principles of anti-racism and equity. Join this community launch to dive into the big, undaunted commitments of the Roadmap and embark on a collective path forward.

  • Rachael Myers, MSW, Executive Director, Washington Low Income Housing Alliance

Resident Action Project Power Hour

What if sharing your story could make a powerful difference? People with personal experience of housing injustice and affordable housing residents are coming together to do just that through the Resident Action Project! Join this power hour with RAP leaders to learn how and why we are organizing, the values behind our movement, and how you can get involved. This meeting will center the experiences of people who have been through housing discrimination, displacement, eviction, homelessness, or other forms of housing injustice.

  • Angela Chapman, Manager, Community Building, Spokane
  • Sarah Norman, MSW, Homeward House Collaborative Advancement Manager, YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish
  • Natalia Pollock, Diversion Specialist, Catholic Charities, Spokane
  • Victory Hall, Programs Coordinator, REACH Community Development

Other Gatherings

Homelessness Providers and Advocates Meeting

Join stakeholders for a conversation on what is working, what changes are needed and where there are gaps in the Housing and Essential Needs rental assistance program, the Aged Blind and Disabled Program, and in other homelessness programs. This is an opportunity to share what you are seeing in your community and to hear from others who work directly with these programs. Impacted people and program recipients are welcome to attend and to weigh in on what is working and what needs improvement. This will also be an opportunity for homelessness advocates and impacted people to identify and discuss the most urgent needs in your community – even beyond the HEN and ABD programs. Come prepared to share and discuss!

Affinity Group Caucus Gatherings

This year the conference will once again host affinity group caucuses where attendees can connect with each other at the intersections of our various identities, including race, disability, gender, and sexual orientation, plus a dedicated space for frontline service workers. Thank you to the members of our conference equity committee for advising on the formation of these spaces. Details coming soon!