Federal

COVID-19 Housing and Homelessness Provider Stakeholder Call May 27

 

COVID-19 Housing and Homelessness Provider Stakeholder Call May 27

Link to the 5/27/2020 call recording.

 

Speakers on the 5/27/2020:   
Sara Rankin, Seattle University: rankins@seattleu.edu
Tristia Bauman, National Law Center on Poverty and Homelessness: tbauman@nlchp.org
Katara Jordan, Building Changes: katara.jordan@buildingchanges.org
Tedd Kelleher, Dept. of Commerce: tedd.kelleher@commerce.wa.gov

 

ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE TODAY! 

State Advocacy:

Sign on to our organizational sign-on letter to Gov. Inslee! Read our full letter here

Once you've done that, sign this individual petition and share it with at least 10 people in your networks! Once you've signed the letters, use Twitter to call on the Governor (@GovInslee, @WAStateGov) to take action and help Washington residents stay housed, healthy, and safe! Just use the hashtags #WeNeedMoreTime and or #ExtendEvictionBan.
 

Federal Advocacy:

 

Resources:

COVID-19 Housing and Homelessness Provider Stakeholder Call 05/20/2020

 
Speakers on the 5/20/20 Call:
  
 
ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE TODAY! 
  • Send an email to thank your Congress members for sponsoring the Emergency Rental Assistance & Rental Market Stabilization Act! For those who did not sponsor, please ask them to sign on or publicly support the housing and homelessness provisions now included in the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act!
 
  • Sign NLIHC's Letter urging Congress to Include $100B in Emergency Rental Assistance in Next Coronavirus Relief Package.
 
 
Resources from the 5/20/20 Call
 

COVID-19 Housing and Homelessness Provider Stakeholder Call 05/06/2020

COVID-19 Housing and Homelessness Provider Stakeholder Call 05/06/2020
 
Speakers on 5/06/2020 Call
 
 
Please click the above link to contact your members of Congress today and ask them to ensure that the next stimulus package includes:
 
  • $11.5 billion in Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) funding. This combined with the $4 billion previously provided in the CARES Act will reach the funding level needed to expand access to emergency shelter, short-term rental assistance, and housing stabilization services;
  • $100 billion in rental assistance to keep people housed and ensure landlords, including low-income housing providers, have the income they need to continue to operate;
  • $8.5 billion to ensure that public housing authorities can continue to operate at full capacity;
  • A uniform, national moratorium on evictions and foreclosures;
  • Resources for housing counselors and legal services to help renters and homeowners stay housed; and a requirement that local communities follow guidance by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and institute a moratorium on homeless encampment sweeps.
  •  
Resources from 05/06/2020
As always, several resources were highlighted in the chat that are worth uplifting: 

COVID-19 Housing and Homelessness Provider Stakeholder Call 4/22/2020

COVID-19 Housing and Homelessness Provider Stakeholder Call 4/22/2020

Here is a link to the 4/22/2020 recording

 

Speakers from 4/22/2020:

  

Action Alert: Take action today and email your members of congress!

Ask them to ensure that the next stimulus package includes:

  • $11.5 billion in Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) funding. This combined with the $4 billion previously provided in the CARES Act will reach the funding level needed to expand access to emergency shelter, short-term rental assistance, and housing stabilization services;
  • A uniform, national moratorium on evictions and foreclosures; and
  • $100 billion in rental assistance to keep people housed and ensure landlords, including low-income housing providers, have the income they need to continue to operate.

 

Resources Highlighted: 

COVID-19 Housing and Homelessness Provider Stakeholder Call 4/08/2020

Resources for Weekly COVID-19 Housing and Homelessness Call - 04/08/2020

Here is a link to the recording of the 4/08/2020 call.

 

Speakers 04/08/2020

 

Tracking Federal Funding:  Here is a link to Denny Heck's bill, providing $100B for emergency rental assistance. 

Action Alert: Take action in support of this bill here

 

Resources Highlighted: 

COVID-19 Housing and Homelessness Provider Stakeholder Call 3/25/2020

Weekly COVID-19 Housing and Homelessness Call - 03/25/2020

3-25-20 COVID-19 Call Recording

 

Speakers:

 As we continue to elevate the need and build the case for extending the eviction moratorium and appropriating rental assistance funding at the state and national level, we will need data and stories to present as evidence (even when to us the need is already clear). If you track data at your organization, or if you would like to help people share their stories, please connect with me ASAP at johns@wliha.org.

 

NLIHC conference experience

Rachael Myers and Mindy Woods

Rachael Myers is executive director of the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance. Mindy Woods is an advocate with the Housing Alliance’s Resident Action Project (RAP) and a new member of the Housing Alliance’s board of directors. Together, they recently attended the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s annual housing policy forum in Washington, D.C. Here, the self-proclaimed “dynamic duo” share their experiences and insights.

“For me, I wanted the opportunity to connect with others, hear what’s working, what the challenges are,” shared Woods, reflecting on why she chose to travel to the forum in the middle of Washington state’s legislative session. Myers cited the importance of making progress at the federal level: “The federal government’s reduction of investment in housing over decades has had such an impact on the housing crisis and homelessness, here and everywhere. It’s a critical part of the solution, but we can’t have much of an impact on our own. To make a difference, we have to join up with folks from other states and be part of a strong national coalition that’s pushing really hard.”  

Mindy Woods and Senator Kamala HarrisFor both, meeting with housing staff for Senators Cantwell and Murray stood out as a highlight of the trip. “Our meetings were powerful because Mindy was able to tell a personal story.  Lisa Wolters from Seattle Housing Authority joined us and brought the expertise of using federal funds to provide housing, and I could talk about the overall need in our state. It was a really powerful combination,” shared Myers. “They were happy to have folks from home there in D.C., since they don’t get back to Washington very often. They especially listened to Mindy and wanted to hear more about her story.”   

An important part of Woods’ advocacy is her presence on social media. She uses Twitter to connect with lawmakers, journalists, and other advocates.  “I organized an event in Edmonds, where I live. People attended who had experienced homelessness, and we tweeted pictures of ourselves to HUD Secretary Ben Carson and others with messages like, ‘I’m a renter and I vote.’”  In fact, her success and creativity during last year’s week of action on affordable housing earned her an invitation to present at the forum in D.C. 

The forum provides an opportunity for groups like the Housing Alliance from around the county to share strategies and ideas. “I was inspired by the organizing happening in Texas, and the great podcast that our counterpart, Texas Housers, produces,” said Myers.  Washington state also earned some moments to shine, including interest in learning how we finally won a ban on source of income discrimination.  Because of that legislation, landlords must allow tenants to use housing vouchers to pay the rent.

The Resident Action Project is a consistent draw. “Not many states have resident-led advocacy projects like we do in Washington,” shared Woods. “It’s really helped to have people who lived through these experiences [of homelessness or housing instability] and plug their experience into the Housing Alliance’s legislative agenda. When there’s a bill in Olympia, we have a pool of advocates where the bill has affected them personally.”  Myers added: “We’ve learned a lot from the resident organizing happening in California and we hope RAP will inspire other states.” 

Diane Yentel, Mindy Woods and Rachael Myers at NLIHC 2019Myers named Undesign the Redline as a highlight of the conference.  The exhibit used maps and timelines to show how communities of color have been systematically locked out of renting or buying homes in certain neighborhoods throughout history. Alongside, it highlights the social justice movements that have demanded change. During the forum, news broke that Facebook was being charged with violations of the Fair Housing Act for offering race-based advertising to landlords and property managers. “It’s a modern form of redlining - and a warning that we still have a lot of work to do,” said Myers. 

Both were reminded of the importance of advocacy. “As bad as things are in D.C., the 2019 budget has $12 billion more for Housing & Urban Development than the President requested, and $1.5 billion more than the 2018 budget. Advocacy can make a difference even when things seem pretty awful,” Myers said. Woods encouraged everyone to get more involved: “There is always work to be done, at the local, state and national levels. I met people from all over the country working on housing justice. It makes me that much more determined and focused. When we all work together, everyone doing our parts, it all adds up to a big movement.”  

You can support Mindy Woods’ advocacy by following her on Twitter at @HopeDealer19 and @RAPWashington.  

To learn more about RAP, sign up at residentactionproject.org or join on Facebook.

Photos:

Mindy at the US Capitol

Mindy and Senator (and Presidential candidate), Kamala Harris

Mindy and Rachael with Diane Yentel, National Low Income Housing Coalition CEO

 


 

Housing Advocacy in Action! Week of Jan 23

Michele Thomas, Director of Policy and Advocacy

Bills, Bills, Bills!

The 2017 state legislative session is 2+ weeks in and many bills are still being introduced. The pace and feel of the campus is hectic, with many people working to get their issues in front of lawmakers.

To keep track of all the bills this session, the Housing Alliance has created a bill tracker on our website where we will list our position on bills that impact affordable housing and homelessness, and other important issues including racial equity, voting rights, safety net services and more. Be sure to check back often, as we are updating this all the time!

Do you want to testify this session? We can help!

Testifying on a bill can be an empowering experience that helps to educate lawmakers on the need to pass a bill or to invest in a program. Especially if you have a personal experience with an issue, your story can profoundly impact where a lawmaker stands. Let us know if you are interested in learning more or if you are already planning on coming down to testify. Fill out this simple survey and we will be in touch!

 

WHOA: HB 1570

Last week was exciting with the development of HB 1570 by Representative Nicole Macri from the 43rd legislative district. This bill will prevent a massive cut in state homelessness funding while also increasing resources to meet Washington’s growing homelessness crisis.

If coupled with new Housing Trust Fund investments, the bill would ensure housing for 6,515 more people each biennium (each 2 year budget cycle). And it would enable Washington to:

  • End family homelessness,
  • Reduce chronic homelessness by 50% and,
  • Ensure that no youth exits a public institution into homelessness.

You can TAKE ACTION today to make sure your lawmakers know how important this bill is!

Here is an overview of what HB 1570 does:

Eliminate the sunset on the homeless housing and assistance surcharge. This sunset would result in a loss of 62.5% of state funds to prevent and end homelessness. Every homeless and housing safety service in the state would be deeply impacted by this cut, including services for victims of domestic violence, youth & young adults, families and people with mental illness, seniors, veterans and more. HB 1570 eliminates the sunset and makes this fund-source permanent.

Increase resources to prevent and end homelessness by adding $40 to homeless housing and assistance surcharge. This would bring this total surcharge to $90. These are charged when real estate documents are recorded with the local auditor’s office. Real estate documents are recorded in a variety of instances, including when a house is sold.

Amends the mandate that currently requires 45% of all state funds be set-aside solely for for-profit landlords. The for-profit market is difficult, and sometimes impossible, for low-income tenants exiting homeless because of the outright refusal of for-profit landlords to rent to people using rental assistance to help pay the rent. This discrimination limits the effectiveness of rental vouchers, while the lack of rent controls in Washington also make private rental vouchers an increasingly expensive intervention. HB 1570 will provide the state and counties with flexibility to use vouchers in nonprofit owned housing where tenants exiting homelessness are welcome.

Improves state and county reporting requirements. HB 1570 will also improve reporting requirements to ensure more transparency in how state homelessness dollars are being spent, including by requiring homeless housing plans to be updated every five years.

You can find the bill on this page and sign up for updates as the bill progresses.

 

What Trump could mean for affordable housing and homelessness

Last week we all witnessed the historic shift of power to a new administration. A Trump White House could have very significant impacts on affordable housing and homelessness. Ben Carson, the Trump administration’s pick for HUD (Housing and Urban Development) does not have a history of supporting affordable housing programs. While his lack of experience in this area generally makes the impacts of his appointment unknown, there will likely be significant alignment between his conservative worldview with the policy priorities of congressional leadership. This could have significant budget implications, but it could also impact HUD’s fair housing enforcement, regulations that protect public housing tenants and more.

The Housing Alliance encourages you to sign up for alerts from the National Low Income Housing Coalition. This organization has a long history of informing housing and homelessness advocates on federal developments. You can sign up on their website here.

I also encourage you to check out this blog post from after the November election in which they outline the potential impacts of Trump.

In these uncertain times, it more important than ever that we stand up against hate, discrimination and attempts to weaken fundamental protections. To that end, the Housing Alliance has crafted a support agenda that reaches a little further to include issues that impact poverty, racial justice, immigrant rights, voting rights and other important issues that effect justice and equality in our state. You’ll see us taking action on more issues this year, while still leading on affordable housing and homelessness priorities. Check out our lead agenda and support issues here.

 

Resources for Advocates

Check out the Housing Alliance website for advocacy resources including policy overviews for each of our priority issues. Additionally, you can find key resources including this Housing Trust Fund talking points document. Note: our one-pager on the Medicaid Transformation Demonstration is coming soon. 

 

We need you!

Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day is around the corner, and many of you have not yet registered! We know you are coming, but we need you to register so we can order the food and plan all the logistics of the day including ensuring enough room for lawmaker meetings. Please register today. If you have questions or need help, you can contact Alouise at the Housing Alliance.

We are also still looking for volunteers, including people who will lead the lawmaker meetings. If you are interested in volunteering, the first step is to fill out this form.

 

Help us educate lawmakers with stories from people impacted by homelessness, discrimination or housing insecurity.

The Housing Alliance is in the process of creating a one-page document for each legislative district in the state that will include data about housing and homelessness, and a personal story of someone whose life is better because they have a safe, affordable home. The stories are approximately 250 words with a picture. Because session has already started, we need these stories as soon as possible for our lawmaker meetings!

We need stories from the following legislative districts:

1 (Mountlake Terrace, Bothell)
2 (Parts of Pierce and Thurston County including Graham, Yelm and Eatonville)
4 (Parts of Spokane County including Liberty Lake and Spokane County)
7 (Includes Oroville, Tonasket, Republic, Colville and Chewelah)
11 (Includes South Seattle, Tukwila and parts of Renton)
12 (Chelan and Douglas Counties, including Winthrop, Twisp, Chelan, Leavenworth, Wenatchee and Grand Coulee)
15 (Parts of Yakima County including Wapato, Toppenish, Zillah, Granger, Sunnyside and Grandview)
16 (Parks of Columbia and Walla Walla County including Walla Walla city, Prosser and Pasco)
17 (Parts of Clark County including Battle Ground and part of Vancouver)
18 (Parts of Clark County including Ridgefield, Camas, Washougal and parts of Vancouver city and part of Battle Ground)
25 (Parts of Pierce County including Puyallup and Fife)
26 (Parts of Pierce and Kitsap Counties including parts of Bremerton and Port Orchard)
28 (Part of Pierce County including University Place, Lakewood, Dupont and Spanaway)
30 (Federal Way, Des Moines and parts of Auburn)
31 (Parts of South King County and NE Pierce County including Auburn, Bonney Lake, Enumclaw and Sumner)
34 (West Seattle, Vashon and parts of Burien)
39 (Sedro Woolly, Arlington, Monroe, Gold Bar, parts of Marysville)
44 (Parts of Marysville, Lake Stevens, Snohomish and Mill Creek)
46 (Lake Forest Park, Kenmore and Lake City)

If you have a story to share, or if you know someone who does, please email dimitrig@wliha.org and he can coordinate with you!

 

Advocate Calls

Join us every-other-Friday at 11am for a conference call detailing the very latest on housing and homelessness priorities in Olympia. These calls will cover progress of important bills and advocacy opportunities, and you don't have to be a policy expert to follow what's happening. The next call is on Friday, February 3rd, followed by calls on 2/17, 3/3, 3/17, 3/31, and 4/14. Anyone can join, just email reinyc@wliha.org for your call in code. Feel free to invite your colleagues, friends, and family to join.

Don’t forget to take action and hope to see you in Olympia on February 2nd,

- Michele and the Housing Alliance team.

Reflections on EAP@COEH

Paige McAdams, Communications Intern

The recent 25th Annual Conference on Ending Homelessness saw the first-ever EAP at the Conference on Ending Homelessness or “EAP@COEH”, a collaboration with the Housing Alliance’s Emerging Advocates Program. A large part of advocacy lies in telling stories and why they matter. That’s why the alliance also believes that the most appropriate people to explain why affordable homes and ending homelessness are so important are people who have experienced homelessness themselves.

The Emerging Advocates Program (EAP) began in 2013 as a summer/fall workshop series devoted to equipping people who have lived these stories with the necessary tools to engage in the advocacy process. The goal of EAP is for participants to gain skills and experience that will prepare them for advocacy leadership and for working toward positive policy change.

EAP@COEH included three EAP-specific workshop sessions. Participants were also required to attend five workshops of their choice from among nine recommended ones designated for the EAP@COEH program.

Ten people from all over the state participated in this inaugural program. Four others who completed a similar program last fall also joined. The EAP workshops included:

  • An introductory session explaining the Emerging Advocates Program, the Housing Alliance, and exploring the concept of advocacy and issues surrounding homelessness/affordable housing.
  • A workshop regarding storytelling in an advocacy context in which participants utilized a personal anecdote in a letter on affordable housing funding to state senators.
  • EAP 2013 graduate and artist/advocate Shelby Powell facilitated an evening Art Advocacy Studio, where participants could utilize their creativity to create artwork focused on advocacy messaging.
  • EAP 2013 graduate Kirk McClain facilitated the "Peer Support Breakfast", a gathering for anyone at the conference who identifies as having been homeless, including but not exclusive to the EAP participants.

“I loved seeing the Emerging Advocates Program participants networking with each other and with others at the conference, sharing their questions and ideas in the workshops,” says EAP staff lead Alouise Urness. “And I look forward to hearing their voices in the ongoing advocacy to make sure that there can be opportunities for safe, healthy, affordable homes for all people in Washington.

Overall, EAP@COEH participants and organizers believe the program was a success to be repeated for next year’s Conference on Ending Homelessness in Spokane. “Based on feedback from attendees, it was a huge win to have a space at the conference for folks with direct experience to come to the table and broaden the conversations to work for positive policy change and long-lasting shifts that end homelessness in our state, “ says EAP staff facilitator Andrea Marcos.

EAP and the Housing Alliance will continue to promote advocacy across Washington state to ensure that all residents can thrive in safe, healthy, and affordable homes.

Photos: Top-right: EAP attendees in the workshop Keep Your HeART: Art & Advocacy learn about incorporating art into advocacy and vice versa.
Bottom: Some of the EAP@COEH attendees at the 25th Annual Conference on Ending Homelessness.

 


 

Rents continue to be Out of Reach for too many across Washington

Joaquin Uy, Communications Specialist

In order to afford a modest, one-bedroom apartment at Fair Market Rent in Washington, renters need to earn $17.26 per hour. This is Washington’s 2015 one-bedroom Housing Wage, revealed in a national report released today. Washington, D.C.-based research and advocacy organization National Low Income Housing Coalition and the statewide legislative advocacy organization Washington Low Income Housing Alliance jointly released the Out of Reach 2015 report.

Every year, Out of Reach reports on the Housing Wage for all states, counties, metropolitan areas, and combined non-metropolitan areas in the country. The report presents housing costs nationwide, highlighting the gap between what renters earn and what it costs to afford rent at fair market value.

According to the report, this state is the tenth most expensive state for renters. There is no doubt that the high cost of rental housing is driving increases in homelessness. According to an article published recently in the Journal of Urban Affairs, an increase of $100 in median rent for an area results in a 15 percent (metro areas) and a 39 percent (nearby suburbs and rural areas) increase in homelessness.

The hourly wage (working full-time) needed to afford a modest 2-bedroom apartment jumped by at least 10 percent in six counties:

County Percentage increase of hourly wage needed to afford a home
King County 26%
Snohomish County 26%
San Juan County 14%
Clallam County 11%
Pacific County 10%
Benton County 10%
Franklin County 10%

“Opportunities for safe, healthy, affordable homes are decreasing across Washington at alarming speeds,” says Housing Alliance Executive Director Rachael Myers. “We knew this trend would happen. That’s why we’ve been working to protect vulnerable renters and increase funding for affordable homes. While lawmakers failed to pass legislation to protect tenants this year, they still have an opportunity to invest in affordable homes before the special session is over.”

While the lack of affordable housing is a large part of why homelessness rates are increasing in Washington, wages have also not kept pace with rising rents. The federal minimum wage has remained at $7.25 an hour without an increase since 2009, generating debate and calls to raise the wage both at the state and federal levels. In no state, even those where the minimum wage has been set above the federal standard, can a minimum wage renter working a 40-hour work week afford a one-bedroom rental unit at Fair Market Rent.

Working at the minimum wage of $9.47 in Washington, a family must have 1.8 wage earners working full-time, or one full-time earner working 73 hours a week to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment.

Affording a rental home continues to be difficult even in Seattle, which has the highest minimum wage in the country at $15. The one-bedroom fair market rent in the city is a whopping $1,150, the highest in the state. Someone earning $15/hour would need to work 59 hours per week or 1.5 full-time jobs to afford this rent.

This is why advocates continue to work at the federal level for national solutions to the nation’s growing housing affordability crisis. The Housing Alliance joins with the National Low Income Housing Coalition in supporting the National Housing Trust Fund, which will provide communities with funds to create homes that are affordable for people at the lowest income levels.

You can view/download the entire report here.

Compare data from cities and counties to state data here.

 


 

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