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Housing Advocacy in Action! Week of Feb 27

Michele Thomas, Director of Policy and Advocacy

Two major cutoffs have come and gone, and Thursday (March 2) marks the halfway point of this 105-day legislative session. In order to still be viable, bills must have cleared the policy and/or fiscal committees in their chamber of origin, either the House or the Senate, unless they are given the special status of “NTIB”.  NTIB means necessary to implement the budget – see last week’s “Ask a Lobbyist” column for more on NTIB. The good news is that many affordable housing and homelessness bills are still alive, including top priority bills SHB 1570/Macri and HB 1633/Riccelli. Download this comprehensive bill tracker for the status of the many affordable housing and homelessness bills introduced this session. We’ve also included bills that we are opposing, and important bills we are supporting that will improve the safety-net, will prohibit discrimination, and will improve the lives of low-income households, people of color, and immigrants. 

Substitute House Bill (SHB) 1570/Macri, the Washington Housing Opportunities Act

This top priority bill cleared two major hurdles last week when it was given a hearing and then a vote in the House Appropriations Committee. The hearing on Thursday, February 23 featured three stellar testifiers; Realtors Tonya Hennen and Sol Villarreal, and Debbie Trosvig from the Snohomish County Human Services Department. All three passionately shared why it is imperative that Washington lawmakers take action to prevent over 60% of the Homeless Housing and Assistance Surcharge from expiring, and that local communities have the opportunity to increase the surcharge. The two realtors shared that there is a clear nexus between real estate activity and homelessness. They also shared that the surcharge does not discourage home ownership and that many new homeowners are in fact happy that they can help ensure that people in their community have a roof over their heads. This testimony was particularly striking in the face of the Washington Realtors testifying “with concerns”.

After the hearing, the bill was quickly added to the list for “executive session” (when a bill can be voted out of committee) and on Friday evening it was voted out on a party-line vote. If one of your lawmakers sits on the House Appropriations Committee and voted yes (see the list below), please send them a quick email to thank them for their leadership and to encourage them to vote yes again on the House Floor! And if your lawmaker voted no, please email them to let them know that you are disappointed and that you hope that they will reconsider their position and vote yes when it comes up on the House Floor. 

The following lawmakers voted yes on SHB 1570 on Friday, February 24 in the House Appropriations Committee. Please thank them, especially if they are your lawmaker! You can call their office directly or email them.  

Lawmaker

District

City/County

Phone Number

Email

Timm Ormsby (D), Chair

3rd LD

Spokane

(360) 786-7946

timm.ormsby@leg.wa.gov

June Robinson (D), Vice Chair

38th LD

Everett, Marysville

(360) 786-7864

june.robinson@leg.wa.gov

Steve Bergquist (D)

11th LD

Tukwila

(360) 786-7862

steve.bergquist@leg.wa.gov

Eileen Cody (D)

34th LD

Vashon Island, West Seattle

(360) 786-7978

eileen.cody@leg.wa.gov

Joe Fitzgibbon (D)

34th LD

Vashon Island, West Seattle

(360) 786-7952

joe.fitzgibbon@leg.wa.gov

Zack Hudgins (D)

11th LD

Tukwila

(360) 786-7956

zack.hudgins@leg.wa.gov

Laurie Jinkins (D)

27th LD

Tacoma

(360) 786-7930

laurie.jinkins@leg.wa.gov

Ruth Kagi (D)

32nd LD

Shoreline

(360) 786-7810

ruth.kagi@leg.wa.gov

Kristine Lytton (D)

40th LD

Mount Vernon, Burlington

(360) 786-7800

kristine.lytton@leg.wa.gov

Eric Pettigrew (D)

37th LD

South Seattle

(360) 786-7838

eric.pettigrew@leg.wa.gov

Gerry Pollet (D)

46th LD

Lake Forest Park, Kenmore

(360) 786-7886

gerry.pollet@leg.wa.gov

David Sawyer (D)

29th LD

South Tacoma, Spanaway

(360) 786-7906

david.sawyer@leg.wa.gov

Tana Senn (D)

41st LD

Bellevue, Newcastle

(360) 786-7894

tana.senn@leg.wa.gov

Larry Springer (D)

45th LD

Woodinville

(360) 786-7822

larry.springer@leg.wa.gov

Derek Stanford (D)

1st LD

Bothell

(360) 786-7928

derek.stanford@leg.wa.gov

Pat Sullivan (D)

47th LD

Auburn, Covington

(360) 786-7858

pat.sullivan@leg.wa.gov

Steve Tharinger (D)

24th LD

Port Townsend, La Push, Most of Olympics

(360) 786-7904

steve.tharinger@leg.wa.gov

These lawmakers voted no on SHB 1570 on Friday, February 24 in the House Appropriations Committee. If you see your lawmaker on this list, please contact them to ask that they reconsider their position and vote yes when the bill comes up on the House Floor.

Lawmaker

District

City/County

Phone Number

Email

Bruce Chandler (R)

15th LD

Sunnyside, Grandview, E Yakima County

(360) 786-7960

bruce.chandler@leg.wa.gov

Drew MacEwen (R)

35th LD

Mason County

(360) 786-7902

drew.macewen@leg.wa.gov

Drew Stokesbary (R)

31st LD

Bonney Lake, Upper half Pierce County

(360) 786-7846

drew.stokesbary@leg.wa.gov

Vincent Buys (R)

42nd LD

Bellingham

(360) 786-7854

vincent.buys@leg.wa.gov

Michelle Caldier (R)

26th LD

Bremerton, Port Orchard

(360) 786-7802

michelle.caldier@leg.wa.gov

Carry Condotta (R)

12th LD

Chelan and Douglas counties

(360) 786-7954

cary.condotta@leg.wa.gov

Larry Haler (R)

8th LD

Richland

(360) 786-7986

larry.haler@leg.wa.gov

Paul Harris (R)

17th LD

Vancouver

(360) 786-7976

paul.harris@leg.wa.gov

Matt Manweller (R)

13th LD

Ephrata, Grant county

(360) 786-7808

matt.manweller@leg.wa.gov

Terry Nealey (R)

16th LD

Dayton, Walla Walla

(360) 786-7828

terry.nealey@leg.wa.gov

Joe Schmick (R)

9th LD

Pullman, and Adams, Asotin, Franklin, Garfield, and Whitman counties

(360) 786-7844

joe.schmick@leg.wa.gov

David Taylor (R)

2nd LD

South Pierce county

(360) 786-7874

david.taylor@leg.wa.gov

Brandon Vick (R)

18th LD

Battle Ground, Camas

(360) 786-7850

brandon.vick@leg.wa.gov

Mike Volz (R)

6th LD

Cheney

(360) 786-7922

mike.volz@leg.wa.gov

J.T. Wilcox (R)

2nd LD

South Pierce county

(360) 786-7912

jt.wilcox@leg.wa.gov


House bill (HB) 1633/Riccelli, Outlawing Discrimination based on Renter’s Source of Income.

This top priority bill cleared another hurdle last week when it was “pulled” from the House Rules Committee to the House Floor Calendar for a “second reading”. Bills have to clear three “readings” in each chamber to pass the legislature. The first reading happens to all bills introduced when they are read on the floor and referred to a committee. If the Rules Committee moves a bill out, they technically open it up for a second reading. During second reading a bill can be amended. It is during the third reading that a bill is brought up for a vote on the floor. HB 1633 is now in second reading status and therefore could be placed on the “order of consideration” at any time. The order of consideration is a list of the bills up for a vote on the floor. From now till 5:00 pm on March 8th, both chambers will spend a lot of time on the floor passing bills out. HB 1633 must move out of the House by that date in order to be considered by the Senate. Since its companion bill (SB 5407/Frockt) died in the Senate policy committee, don’t be surprised to see amendments passed on the floor to better position it for support by Republicans who control the Senate chamber. 

Ask A Lobbyist: How often can I contact my lawmaker? 

In our second “Ask a lobbyist” column, we tackle the question of how often an advocate can contact their lawmaker and still be an effective advocate. 

We get this question often, especially during busy legislative sessions like this where there are many affordable housing and homelessness issues on the table. It comes up even more often when an advocate wants to contact a lawmaker more than once on a the same bill or same budget issue. Because this comes up often, the Housing Alliance has asked many different lawmakers for their perspective. And each time we ask, lawmakers, regardless of their political party, answer the same way - they want to hear from their constituents! You can contact them on the same issue, or on different issues, as often as you want. The key is how you communicate, not how often. Respectful communication with your lawmakers, even when you are expressing your dismay with their position, is totally acceptable. Repeated communication with your lawmaker on the same issue is also totally acceptable, especially if the issue is still pending (e.g. a bill hasn’t yet been brought up for a vote). In fact, being persistent is a very good thing. It communicates to your lawmaker that the issue is of upmost importance to their constituents, and that you will be closely watching for how they vote. So don’t be shy or hesitant to contact your lawmakers often. Being persistent can often be the key to developing a relationship with your lawmaker – once you develop such a relationship, they may even reach out to you to ask where you stand on a issue. 

Have a question? Submit it here!

Thank you for being an advocate for affordable housing and homelessness. Our movement is strong and thanks to our persistence and strategic advocacy, we have consistently been able to move mountains and achieve the impossible. Please help  continue this tradition by taking action this week! And please consider attending your local lawmaker town hall meetings. Many lawmakers are hosting in-person or telephonic town halls and your voice is needed! Check out this page for a list of town halls and for a guide to asking your lawmakers to stand up for affordable housing and homelessness issues this session! 

Thank you for all you do!

Michele

 

Housing Advocacy in Action! Week of Feb 20th

Michele Thomas, Director of Policy and Advocacy

Olympia is in the midst of cutoff craziness, with everyone scrambling to get their bills officially “heard” and voted on before Friday’s looming deadline to clear fiscal committees (see all session deadlines here). Once bills have passed the policy and fiscal committee hurdles, they next have to be pulled from the Rules Committee to the Floor. Then they have to get called up for a vote before the next “house of origin” deadline set for March 8th.  If a bill makes it over to the opposite chamber, it goes through the whole process again over there. A bills journey is arduous, from its origin as an idea, to the final step of being signed into law by the Governor. It needs cheerleaders and advocates pushing it along, encouraging it to not give up and reviving it with first aid when needed. And right now, a key affordable housing and homelessness priority needs some of that love

The Washington Housing Opportunities Act (SHB 1570/Macri) will prevent the loss of over 62% of state homelessness dollars by eliminating the looming sunset on the Homeless Housing and Assistance Surcharge (commonly known as the document recording fee). It will also increase resources to prevent and end homelessness by providing counties with a new local option to increase the surcharge by as much as $50. If each county council takes up the opportunity, and if the state invests deeply in the Housing Trust Fund, Washington could end family homelessness in 3 years. We could also prevent any youth from being released from state care into homelessness and we could reduce chronic homelessness by at least 50%. This is a real, tangible solution to the suffering that so many will otherwise face. Our lawmakers can do it. SHB 1570 can pass this session. It is largely contingent on how much of a fuss we make. We need to raise our voices and push the bill through the next hurdle.

Please take action today to help end family homelessness! If you’ve taken this action already in the last couple of days, can you get three other people to do it too? Send them the link to the action page and tell them that their voice can truly make a significant difference. 

Educating Lawmakers

Many lawmakers, both locally and at the state level, are asking why homelessness has increased in our state. They wonder if the resources they’ve already authorized are being wisely used and they want to know if they can reduce homelessness by investing more deeply in the Homeless Housing and Assistance Surcharge and in the Housing Trust Fund. These are all legitimate questions, so the Housing Alliance was happy when we were asked to address them before the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Thursday, February 16th. 

Below are some of the key points we shared with the committee members. If you want more details you can watch the hearing here. You can also download our PowerPoint presentation and our briefing paper on the increase in homelessness. 

  • There is a great need for permanent, affordable housing in every community in our state. Homelessness is a crisis impacting many people. Homeless has serious consequences on a person’s health & safety, on their ability to obtain or maintain a job, and on a child’s ability to learn. 
  • Each January, every county conducts an annual “Point in Time” count. While counts were just conducted for 2017, we don’t yet have the results. We do know that in 2016 that 20,844 people were identified as experiencing homelessness and 8,474 of them were unsheltered. 
  • The annual “Out of Reach” report, conducted by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, finds that rents in most counties in Washington far exceed what a worker earning the state minimum wage of $11 can afford.
  • And a 2015 study on Washington’s Affordable Housing Needs found that the majority of households who are earning less than 50% of the area-median Income are “cost-burdened” in our state. This means that they are paying more than they can afford housing, causing households to wrestle with impossible choices between paying the rent or paying for childcare, medicine or a doctor’s visit. This also leaves households at great risk of homelessness, with no safety net or savings for a rainy day.
  • The State Office of the Superintendent (OSPI) recently reported that during the 2015-16 school year, 39,671 students experienced homelessness. Over 10,000 of those students were living in a temporary shelter, motel or in setting not fit for human habitation. 39,671 equals one in every 27 students in our state experiencing homeless during that school year. About half of them were grade 5 or younger. OSPI’s report also noted that the four-year graduation rate for homeless students in the class of 2016 was 53.2 percent; while for all students it was 79.1 percent. And that students of color experience much higher rates of homelessness than their white counterparts. 9.5% of African American students experiences homelessness. 
  • Housing costs have risen dramatically across the state, while incomes are not keeping up. And rent increases are directly correlated with homelessness. A recent study in the Journal of Urban Affairs found that for each every $100 increase in rent, that there was a 15% increase in homelessness in metro areas and a 39% increase in homelessness in suburban & rural areas. 
  • While the drivers of homelessness continue to include mental illness and chemical dependency, the main cause of homelessness is the lack of affordable homes.
  • The underlying reason Washington has seen an increase in homelessness is that housing has become increasingly unaffordable, while wages are stagnant and too many are living in poverty.
  • Our state has already been investing in solutions that work. While homelessness has been rising in recent years, it has still decreased by 18% since 2006, after the Homeless Housing and Assistance act was passed.
  • Currently, 98,000 people each year are not homeless because of services funded by the Homeless Housing and Assistance surcharge.
  • But our state can and should do more. Specifically we need to invest $200 million this biennium in the State Housing Trust Fund and pass SHB 1570.

 

Ask a Lobbyist!

This is a new column we are adding the Advocacy in Action blog with a goal of making space to answer questions about the legislative process. If you have a question, submit it here!

Many people are wondering why some bills have to go through both a policy and a fiscal committee, and what “NTIB” means. Since these questions directly pertain to SHB 1570/Macri, the Washington Housing Opportunities Act, these are good ones to start this new column off with. 

Bills that have both a policy and fiscal impact will often have to go through two committees before being able to reach the Rules Committee (the final step before the floor). If the fiscal impact of the bill is considered insignificant, usually meaning under $50,000, then it usually will be allowed to skip the fiscal committee and head straight to Rules after passing the policy committee. If a bill’s primary purpose relates to the budget, it will often skip policy committees and go straight to the fiscal committee. The session cutoff calendar sets deadlines for bills to clear all these steps. You can see all the cutoff dates here.

The Senate Ways & Means Committee deals with all fiscal related bills, expect those directly related to the Transportation budget (those go to Senate Transportation). The House has several different fiscal committees. House Finance deals with tax related bills, House Capital Budget considers all Capital Budget related matters, House Appropriations deals with all matters related the state’s Operating Budget and House Transportation deals with the Transportation Budget. 

Bills that are considered “necessary to implement the budget” or NTIB for short, still have to go through the process, but they are exempt from the cutoffs. The state budget bills are the most obvious example of an NTIB bill. But other bills can also be considered NTIB if they are needed in order to finalize the budget. Whether or not the bill is needed is a matter of opinion and there is a fair amount of discretion that leadership can wield with this designation. Declaring something NTIB inherently signals that the bill is important to leadership. Many bills that could impact the budget are not given this designation and it is a status not given lightly. If the other chamber doesn’t also consider a bill NTIB, it may still have to get over there in time to adhere to their deadlines. 

SHB 1570/Macri is considered by House leadership to be NTIB because it impacts the Department of Commerce’s budget. Therefore, if the bill doesn’t move along by the cutoff deadlines, it doesn’t mean that it is dead. It is scheduled for a hearing this week, Thursday February 23rd in the House Appropriations Committee but likely won’t be brought up for a vote until the next week or so. 

We hope this is helpful. If you have questions you’d like us to tackle in our next blog post, please send them in! And don’t forget to take action and to encourage others to join you. 

Thank you for all you do, 
Michele 

 

Housing Advocacy in Action! Week of Feb 13th

Michele Thomas, Director of Policy and Advocacy

For the last several weeks in Olympia, affordable housing and homelessness has been top of mind. Many bills impacting these issues have had hearings, and of course, over 650 advocates came to the capitol on February 2nd for Homelessness and Housing Advocacy Day.

The week of February 13 marks the beginning of the 6th week of this legislation session. Scheduled to end in April, we are about 1/3 of the way through and Friday February 17 brings the first cutoff. Successive policy hurdles called “cutoffs” segment the state legislative session. The first one requires that bills clear policy committees by getting a hearing and then a vote by the cutoff date. The next cutoff pertains to fiscal committees. Bills with a fiscal impact have to be heard and voted on by February 24. You can see the whole legislative calendar and all the cutoffs here.

The Olympian recorded Representative Macri addressing Affordable Housing and Homelessness advocates during the rally and you can watch it here.

Especially near policy cutoffs, when so many bills are competing for the limited time and bandwidth of the legislature, your lawmakers need to hear from you. During the rally on the Capitol Steps on Homelessness and Housing Advocacy Day, Representative Marcri (D – 43) and Senator Saldaña (D – 37) both urged advocates to do more to make our voices heard. They both spoke about how many emails and calls they get each day on a wide range of issues. They shared that while affordable housing and homelessness are top-of-mind for them, it isn’t because their constituents are reaching out. They both came to Olympia caring deeply about our issues, but they are not hearing enough from their constituents. This suggests that lawmakers who need to be swayed are unlikely to be hearing from their constituents either. As Representative Macri shared, “We’ve got to amp up the volume. We need more calls, more emails, more demands!” So please TAKE ACTION NOW and ask your lawmakers to support a ban on source of income discrimination. These actions really do work! And don’t stop there. Share this with your boards, with your colleagues, with your friends, your networks, and your families. Tell them why you took action and encourage them to join you.

Update on SB 5407/Frockt and HB 1633/Riccelli – to outlaw discrimination based on a renter’s source of income

On February 7, testifiers braved the snow and ice to come to Olympia to urge lawmakers to vote yes on HB 1633/Riccelli.

Pictured from left to right:
Patricia Abbate, Solid Ground/ Claude DaCorsi, Auburn City Council and the Affordable Housing Advisory Board/ Megan Hyla, King County Housing Authority/ Toya Thomas, Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher tenant/ John Hannaman, Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher tenant/ Michael Mirra, Tacoma Housing Authority/ Dimitri Groce, Washington Low Income Housing Alliance and Tamaso Johnson, Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence. 

The last two weeks have been action-packed. Lawmakers in the House and the Senate in three different committees have heard testimony on the need to pass SB 5407/HB 1633 banning source of income discrimination. Over 25 individuals have come to the Capitol to testify on the harm that this kind of discrimination causes to households and communities. People directly impacted by this discrimination have shared their stories, including Toya Thomas who was told to move from her Renton home this fall when a new property management firm took over her apartment building. All the section 8 families were told to go because they were using vouchers to help pay the rent. Most were single parent headed households with young children and most were African American. You can learn more about Toya’s experience through a recent KCTS 9 feature on the ordeal.

The Housing Alliance and our allies also weighed in last week against a bill that would repeal local fair housing protections. SB 5569/Angel would undo all of the local laws that have outlawed discrimination based on a renter’s source of income and would prevent any city or county from passing any local protections (it would also repeal Seattle’s protections against discrimination based on political ideology). If the bill were to pass, it would leave the state as the sole fair housing protector. Proponents of this bill represent the same organizations working to block passage of state level source of income discrimination protections. And even though the bill begins with the premise that fair housing is so important that it should solely be a state duty, the intent is clearly to prevent such protections by any means possible.

Budgets Coming Soon

As the session moves forward, it will remain critical that advocates from across the state weigh in to push our lawmakers to do more to end and prevent homelessness. As policy bills move through the process, lawmakers are also starting to make decisions about the budgets. Although the first legislative budget proposals won’t be released until mid-March, lawmakers are fine-tuning their priorities and the budget writers are sorting through the many requests. Stay tuned for opportunities soon to take action on the Housing Trust Fund and on other budget priorities like the Housing and Essential Needs program. And stand by for updates on HB 1570/Macri to eliminate the looming sunset on 62.5% of the state’s homelessness dollars. That bill is exempt from the cutoffs because it is considered “necessary to implement the budget”, so don’t be alarmed if you don’t see it moving as quickly as other bills that are subject to the cutoffs. For more updates, please join our upcoming advocate’s call. The next one is scheduled for Friday the 17th at 11:00. All affordable housing and homelessness advocates are welcome to join – so feel free to invite your colleagues and boards. Use this call in number and code: (866) 339-4555 / Access code: 2064674522

Thank you for all you do. Please help us to “ramp it up” so that lawmakers know that their constituents want them to prioritize our issues.

Michele

Why I Advocate

Elimika James, Housing Advocate

 

My name is Elimika James, and this year was my very first time at Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day! As a working single-mother, it can be difficult to find the time to be an advocate while balancing a job, being a parent, and taking care of my own needs, and I appreciated the opportunity to participate.

I recognize that I have a lot of friends and family members who are struggling to keep their homes and some people need to be given a voice. It energizes me to be able to speak up on behalf of people who don’t have the opportunity.

I heard about Advocacy Day through the Tenant’s Union. This fall I was introduced to the world of housing advocacy when I had helped the organizing effort to prevent many households in my community from being evicted because they used a Section 8 voucher to pay their rent. Our organizing pushed the City of Renton to pass a temporary injunction protection for tenants who use Section 8; but it is set to expire this summer, and I don’t want to see anyone else go through this.

At Advocacy Day, I saw that this is just one of many important issues in a larger problem of access to affordable housing. For instance, my rent has increased over $400 this year without warning. More needs to be done to keep rents affordable—landlords should be able to reasonably raise the rent, but I think that there needs to be more limitations on that power, and more resources to keep people from becoming homeless.

The opportunity to meet with my lawmakers really struck me. I remember going to Olympia as a kid, but that was just to learn and spectate. At Advocacy Day we actually sat down with public officials to have a genuine conversation with them.

I spoke with Representatives Hudgins and Bergquist from my district—there were about 5 or 6 of us, so it was really personal. When we talked about banning source of income discrimination, they said they verbally supported it, but there were many challenges to get it through the legislature that made their role tricky. This was a little discouraging because they have the final decision.

But I guess that is why this kind of advocacy is so important. We, as advocates, were able to talk to them about how Section 8 is stigmatized and affects our lives. Seeing people that care enough to come all the way out to Olympia to talk about what it is important to them might motivate lawmakers to change their minds.

Overall, I think the day made me feel like I could make a difference. Standing with people from across the state during the Rally for Homes reminded me of the scene in the movie "Lean on Me" - together we were powerful. I plan to be back next year to learn more and get more information on important issues and how to advocate.

Guest Post - Get Out and Testify

Christine Long, HEN Program Manager King County

Since the Legislative session kicked off two weeks ago, I have sat through two budget hearings with the folks at the Housing Alliance, done email blasts, signed petitions, marched, and met with so many inspiring people that it makes my head spin. We’ve waited through four hour-sessions to give two-minute testimonies and sat at our desks compiling email addresses to send out requests for the support of low-income housing and care. All of this, in support of the effort to ensure access to safe, healthy, affordable homes for everyone in Washington. 

There are some incredibly intelligent, talented Representatives and Senators supporting this cause but they have a lot of issues vying for their attention. This is where the job of advocates like us comes into play. While you and I know that financial and housing assistance programs like Housing and Essential Needs (HEN), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and Aged, Blind and Disabled (ABD) are important, it is up to us to remind the House and Senate of this fact.

Speaking up about these issues is important but it can seem overwhelming. How do you get started? A great activist recently told me that you should gather like-minded folks together and set small, daily goals. Find a part of this larger cause that you are passionate about and set a daily goal of writing a postcard or email to your local officials. The next day, make a phone call to your Senator or Representative’s office and plan to take part in one of the many advocacy days happening in Olympia over the next three months. The important thing is that you get out and testify; send postcards, emails, call your Representatives and Senators, make your voice heard. We may get the word out in different ways but we all support the same issues and the more testimonies we present, asking for the same, larger goals, the more attention we will get. 

I would like to share the testimony I gave before the House and Senate on the HEN Program as an example of how easy it is to get started. If you have something to say, we want to hear it and so do the people in power. So get writing!

Testimony is from the House Appropriations Committee Public Hearing (1/9/17) and Senate Ways and Means Committee Public Hearing (1/11/17):

Good Afternoon Members of the Committee. I am Christine Long, Program Manager for Catholic Community Services Housing and Essential Needs in King County.

I am here today to thank you for your continued support of this program as a crucial social service, providing housing, rental assistance, move in costs, transportation and hygienic needs for nearly 2,000 people per month in King County alone and now nearly 10,000 in total as we enter our 6th year. 

For many of our clients, the question of where they will sleep tonight or next week was once a source of unlimited stress but through HEN, we give them back that basic stability of knowing that you will have heat, running water and indoor plumbing and, most importantly, you can apply for jobs and go to work without the fear that everything you own might be stolen while you are gone. It is that simple security that enables many to go on to lead successful lives. One client in the 31st district stated that because of the HEN program “I’m not homeless, cold or hungry. I feel blessed and I am able to look for work. Because of HEN I am alive today.” 

When surveyed, 83% of our clients who entered as homeless are now housed. It is because of your tireless work here, that we are able to provide these lifesaving services.

This year, the Governor’s budget includes a $20 per month transportation stipend for clients to travel to local agencies to access basic necessities.  I commend the office on this proposal and urge your support of this as it will be of tremendous benefit to those counties with limited transportation funding and for continued funding for those counties who have existing transportation programs, such as King County. We also applaud the Governor for eliminating the Asset limit for TANF and the ABD programs and we encourage the House and Senate to eliminate the Asset limit for Housing and Essential Needs as well.   

I respectfully ask that the Governor’s budget to be approved through the House and Senate with these additions. 

Thank you. 

If you’re not sure who represents you, click here for a detailed list of officials and addresses by city. 

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.

Housing Advocacy in Action!

Michele Thomas, Director of Policy and Advocacy

Welcome to the first “Housing Advocates in Action” update of the 2017 legislative session! Watch for an email in your inbox, and a full blog post here every week or so. This update will serve as a “what’s happening” in Olympia with housing and homelessness policy, and will include the best ways for you to TAKE ACTION and be a housing advocate. In the past these have been weekly emails, but with so much happening in Olympia, we didn’t want to constrain ourselves to a strict timeline. These are great emails to send to your colleagues, board members, and family who share your passion for ending homelessness and expanding affordable housing opportunities. So, bookmark our blog, and watch for our emails so you’re always in the know!

For this first post, on the week of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I'd like to start with a quote:

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr
London, December 7th, 1964
For the full speech, listen to Democracy Now 1-16-17

“The other myth that gets around a great deal in our nation and I’m sure in other nations of the world, is the idea that you can’t solve the problems in the realm of human relations with legislation, that you can’t solve the housing problem, the job problem, and all of these other problems with legislation, that you’ve got to change the heart. We had a presidential candidate just recently who spoke about this a great deal. Mr. Goldwater sincerely believed that you couldn’t do anything though legislation because he voted against everything in the Senate, including the civil rights bill. And he said all over the nation throughout the election that you don’t need legislation, that legislation can’t deal with this problem, that you’ve got to change the heart. I want to go half way with brother Goldwater because I think he is right. You’ve got to change the heart. You must change your heart where there are prejudices. If we are going to solve the problem of mankind, every white person must look in their heart and look deep down within to challenge prejudice that may be there and believe that every negro and every colored person must be treated right… but after saying all of that I must go on to the other side and this is where I must leave Mr. Goldwater and others who believe you can’t solve this with legislation… it may be true that you can’t legislate integration, but you can legislate desegregation, it may be true that morality can’t be legislated, but behavior can be regulated, it may be true that the law can’t change the heart, but it can restrain the hardness. It may not be able to make people love me, but it can prevent people from lynching me and I think that is pretty important also.”
 

Housing Alliance advocates traveled to Olympia to educate lawmakers on the House Community Development, Housing & Tribal Affairs Committee about the importance of the Document Recording Fees in their local efforts to prevent and end homelessness. Special thanks to Kay, Rhonda, Tess and Mary Jane for their extremely informative presentations.

Pictured here: Kay Murano, Executive Director, Spokane Low Income Housing Consortium, Rhonda Hauff, Chief Operating Officer/Deputy CEO, Yakima Neighborhood Health Services, Tess Colby, Manager, Pierce County Community Connections, Mary Jane Brell-Vujovic, Director, Snohomish County Human Services Department

The Housing Alliance team hit the ground running when the legislative session started on Monday, January 9th. With two work sessions on affordable housing and homelessness, four budget hearings, and many lawmaker meetings, it was a very busy first week. But every week during the session is likely to be equally as busy, especially since our movement has done an excellent job of raising affordable housing and homelessness to the forefront of legislative priorities for many lawmakers.

With expectations low, we strive even higher.

The legislature, as in years past, is divided with the House controlled by the Democrats and the Senate controlled by the Republicans. Many are already predicting that this session, which is scheduled to end on Sunday April 23rd, will be prolonged until the day before a state budget must be signed – June 30th. Technically, the legislature’s sole job is to pass a budget for the next two fiscal years, which begins on July 1, 2017. If a budget isn’t passed by then, the state government will shut down. That is an unlikely scenario and expectations are that, although it may take a while, agreement on a new budget will be reached. The question is, what will be in the final budget and will it invest in affordable housing and homelessness?

The Governor invested deeply in affordable housing and homelessness – but even his budget left room for improvement. Important highlights include:

  • Doubling of the ABD (Aged, Blind, and Disabled) cash grant from $197 to $400. This cash grant helps extremely low-income, disabled adults meet their basic needs while they are applying for SSI. $400 puts the program on par with the average HEN (Housing and Essential Needs) rental assistance, thereby helping to prevent people from becoming homeless when they are transferred to the ABD program. This transfer, per state law, happens once someone is determined to have a permanent disability and the very low $197 per month is not enough to cover the loss of the HEN rental assistance.
  • $20 Million dollars for the Home Security Fund to increase resources to prevent and end homelessness. The Governor’s budget would put new money from the state general fund into the Home Security Fund, allowing the state to send out more money to local communities for homelessness services. This is the same account (The Home Security Fund) that document recording fee revenue is deposited in and would fund the same kinds of critical services including domestic violence shelters, homeless youth programs, permanent supportive housing services, rental assistance, and more.
  • $116.5 Million for affordable housing development, plus $28 Million for weatherization of low-income single-family homes. The Governor’s Capital Budget proposes a total of $116.5 million for affordable housing, including $88.8 million for the Housing Trust Fund and $10 million for the preservation of currently affordable housing that is aging. These investments are good starting point, but we are urging that the legislature to get much closer to our ask of $200 million dollars between the next two budget years (the biennium). $200 million for the Housing Trust Fund would create over 5,700 new, affordable homes while also creating 9,000 local jobs and over $655 million in local income.

In contentious times, we need to stay on course with a clear focus on the top affordable housing and homelessness priorities. As in years past, persistent, loud, and righteous advocacy can move mountains in our state. In the face of a Donald Trump becoming our nation’s president and his cabinet of Wall Street, far-right extremists, it is more important than ever that our state stands up for and invests in the needs of our lowest-income neighbors. While the Housing Alliance will be leading on the top affordable housing and homelessness priorities, we will also be supporting efforts to protect immigrants, protect voting rights, protect the rights of LGBTQ communities, especially our transgender neighbors whose non-discrimination protections are under attack, and of people of color. All of these communities, and more, are being targeted, and the Housing Alliance will stand with our allies against hate and discrimination. 

Affordable housing and homelessness top priorities

Expect to see new bills filed this week that will,

  • Secure and preserve funding for homelessness services: Eliminate the sunset on the document recording fees, increase the fee and fix the 45% mandated use on just on purpose – private, for-profit rental vouchers.
  • Outlaw discrimination based on a renter’s source of income: Everyone should have an equal opportunity to compete for housing, yet many landlords categorically deny applications by people relying on lawful sources of income to help pay their rent. Discrimination based on the use of a Section 8 voucher or SSI income has a profound impact on low-income households, many who have waited years for their housing assistance. It has disparate impacts on people already at high risk of discrimination based on race, disability, family status, age, or status as a veteran because all these households experience disproportionately high incidences of poverty. Local jurisdictions in our state have passed or enhanced source of income protections for renters, including most recently Vancouver, Seattle, and Renton, but this discrimination should be outlawed to ensure all of Washington’s tenants are protected.

Exciting developments last week for the Medicaid Demonstration Transformation (aka the “1115 waiver for Permanent Supportive Housing):

The Health Care Authority (HCA) announced on January 9 that the federal Centers on Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approved Washington's Medicaid Transformation Demonstration, also known as Washington's 1115 waiver. This includes the new supportive housing services Medicaid benefit that the Housing Alliance has been advocating for over the past several years. CMS has approved high-level “special terms and conditions”, and now the HCA will work to finalize the benefit design and implementation timeline. DSHS is hosting a webinar to provide updates to stakeholders on January 26 at 8:30 AM; you can register for the webinar here.

A couple of messaging notes for advocates--the state will now be referring to the 1115 waiver as the "Medicaid Demonstration Transformation." The benefits within initiative three, which includes the supportive housing benefit, will be referred to as "Community Transition Support Services."

Lastly, here's a link to the state's official announcement.

Affordable Housing and Homelessness are top legislative priorities

Despite the grim state budget fights that lie ahead and the many scary impacts of a Trump administration, our movement has pushed affordable housing and homelessness to the forefront of Olympia’s agenda. In these otherwise uncertain times, this means we have a very strong foundation to build off of and that means that we can still secure significant wins this session. But wins will require advocacy and determination, so let’s start of this week with a bang. Please take action today and tell your lawmakers to support at $200 Million investment in the Housing Trust Fund, and to eliminate the sunset on Document Recording Fees and raise the fee.

Housing and Homelessness Advocacy day is a fun, uplifting and impactful day of action. And we need you!

On February 2 in Olympia, over 600 advocates from nearly every district in the state will put on their red scarves and converge on the capitol for meetings with legislators, a rally on the capitol steps (one of the biggest of the year!), as well as attend workshops on important issues and advocacy skills, inspiring words from some of our legislator champions, and more. This day helps to show the depth, breadth and passion of the affordable housing and homelessness movement. And it helps move lawmakers on our key legislative priorities. Register today!

Another way to help make Advocacy Day a success is as a volunteer. Volunteers for a variety of roles are still needed, from registering attendees in the morning, to leading meetings with your district's lawmakers (this role is especially crucial - if you've been to Advocacy Day before, please consider taking it on). Sign up to volunteer here.

If you have questions about Advocacy Day, contact Alouise at the Housing AlIiance. I hope to see you on February 2!

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 who’s 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 storytellers for the following legislative districts: 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 25, 26, 28, 30, 31, 34, 39, 43, 44, 46.

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!

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! 

Again, with expectations low for this session, we strive even higher. Together, we will continue our track-record of making significant gains for affordable housing and homelessness. But your advocacy is needed more than ever – please join us in being bold, loud and persistent.

Advocacy Calls

Starting January 20th, 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. Calls will be held on 1/20, 2/3, 2/17, 3/3, 3/17, 3/31, and 4/14. Anyone can join, just email reinyc@wliha.org for your call in code.  

- Michele and the Housing Alliance team.

P.S. Join the Housing Alliance on Saturday, January 21st for the Seattle Womxn’s March.

When: Sat. Jan 21
Meeting time: 10:00am
Meeting location: West entrance of Judkins Park near 20th & S. Charles St.

10:00am Arrive & find group - look for Housing Alliance banner and red scarves
10:30am Rally/speakers begin
11:00am March begins

End Location: Seattle Center, 400 Broad St, Seattle 98109
Route Length: 3.6 miles

 

A KEXP Benefit Concert...For Us!

Rachael Myers, Executive Director

We have some exciting news - The Housing Alliance has been chosen by 90.3 KEXP and the Seattle Foundation to be a part of the re-launch of the their Community Partnership program!

Four community nonprofits* are being recognized for their civic engagement work, specifically for voter turnout programs, and for working in underrepresented communities. Right now, promotional spots for the Housing Alliance are running on-air to highlight the importance of our work, and on Nov. 17th, KEXP is throwing us a benefit concert!

When Kathryn Jacoby from Imagine Housing saw the opportunity to apply, she knew that the Resident Action Project and our Get Out the Vote efforts working with people living in affordable homes would be worthy of this type of public recognition. When she sent us the idea, we jumped on it!

Given the huge election year, we know that it’s critical to register and turn out as many voters as possible who are directly impacted by housing affordability issues. We know that, while voting is important, voters voices become much more powerful when voters are engaged in the year-round cycle of advocacy. AND, movements are built when folks who are most directly impacted by issues are organized and leading the charge for change. That’s the potential of the Resident Action Project.

The Resident Action Project aims to be a statewide network fighting for policy change that is led by residents of affordable homes and folks in need of affordable homes. This year in the Resident Action Project, we’ve been learning and growing. After several community meetings, advocacy and civic engagement training, and volunteer opportunities, the Resident Action Project is gearing up for the legislative session, and it’s going to be a loud voice! We aim to be transformational - not transactional - in our organizing, which means that we’re interested in providing opportunities for leadership development and growth for RAP participants. We are working hard to provide opportunities for folks to participate meaningfully in the democratic process, and we are grateful that KEXP and the Seattle Foundation are recognizing and supporting this work through the Community Partnership Program. 

KEXP is currently airing promotional spots featuring our mission statement, and my personal testimony about why this work is important. Be sure to listen for those!

But wait, there’s more!
Warning: this might be the coolest advocacy action we’ve ever asked you to do 

KEXP is throwing us a benefit concert** and we want to see you there!

IG88, Maiah Manser, and Jus Moni will be performing, and tickets are only $8!

Thursday, November 17th, 7pm

Buy your tickets today! Attend a fun concert and support housing justice at the same time. We hope you can join us! 

 

*Along with the Housing Alliance, the Partnership is also recognizing the Washington Bus, Latino Community Fund of Washington State, and Open Doors for Multicultural Families.

**Proceeds from this night’s concert will be split between the Housing Alliance and the Washington Bus.

Been here a couple months, and want to say hi!

Hello! I’m Andrew Lewis-Lechner, and I’m excited to introduce myself as the new Development Director at the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance! In my new role, I’ll primarily be responsible for expanding our member base, managing donor relationships and connecting the Housing Alliance with partners who can help us further our mission: to ensure that everyone in Washington has access to a safe, healthy, and affordable home. 

I grew up in northern Illinois, and went to college in northeastern Iowa. There were farm fields basically as far as you could see. It was very picturesque, in a Children of the Corn sort of way. When I wasn’t hiding from he-who-walks-behind-the-rows, I was practicing my cello and trombone, or had my nose buried in a book. My parents are both teachers, and my we have union ties going back a long way in the family. Those connections and communities instilled in me a value of equity of opportunity and helped me see first hand the benefits of union jobs in terms of stability and a living wage. I was always taught about the benefits of collective action, and that we’re stronger as a group then we are alone. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been motivated by a desire to make real, lasting change in the communities I have called home and I feel privileged to be able to work for housing justice on a daily basis.

I moved to the Pacific Northwest in 1999, and have been in the nonprofit sector basically my whole working life. Most recently, I was the Development Director for Courage360, a Tacoma based organization providing job training and housing services targeted to single parents working to increase their earning power and build stability for their families. From family self-sufficiency, to self-determination for the terminally ill, to international conflict resolution, I’ve found it a privilege to come to work every day for organizations that are shaping progressive change.

I’m excited to step in on some new membership drives for the Housing Alliance to help us more deeply connect to the broad groups of stakeholders statewide who are doing work on housing issues. When I’m not working to advance our mission, I’m rebuilding my vintage pinball machine, officiating roller derby, playing with my 5 month old Belgian Tervuren puppy or remodeling the tiny 1942 salt box house my partner and I share in Tacoma.

I’m lucky to be surrounded by talented, motivated and compassionate staff and leadership at the Housing Alliance, and I couldn’t be happier to join the team! 

And our first annual Nancy Amidei Movement Builder Award goes to...

Alouise Urness, Community and Member Organizer

It is with great honor and excitement that I announce the recipient of our first annual Nancy Amidei Movement Builder Award -- Matthew Anderson!

(be sure to join us at Bring Washington Home on Sept 27 where Matthew will accept this award)

Matthew is the very essence of a movement builder. Every day, he represents the work the Housing Alliance is doing and works to empower the next generation of advocates in our movement for housing justice.

Matthew first connected with the Housing Alliance when he quietly came to Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day in 2013. The next year, when he applied for a transportation grant to bring others to advocacy day, I didn’t know a thing about him but I could tell how driven he was by the effort he put into that process. And it was successful: low-income housing residents arrived at advocacy day in an accessible van and the energy and enthusiasm they brought was palpable. The year after that, Matthew brought TWO vans of advocates to Olympia with him!

In 2015 Matthew organized 5 Seattle Housing Authority residents to participate with him in the Emerging Advocates Program, and in the fall he spearheaded a conference so that more SHA residents could participate in housing advocacy.

This past year, Matthew not only organized vans of advocates for Advocacy Day, but he also presented a workshop with Nancy Amidei and served as a co-lead for the 43rd district. He became a leader in (and recruited others for) the Resident Action Project, co-facilitated the Emerging Advocates Program at the Conference on Ending Homelessness, and presented on a panel workshop there. He is again organizing a conference for SHA residents, and is tapping into his theater and comedy background to lead a theater workshop in the fall for our new Emerging Advocates Program class of advocates.

Matthew is a humble leader, motivator, and organizer. He does this work not for the recognition, but for the tangible difference it makes in the lives of the people he brings along with him. I can truly think of no one more deserving of the first annual Nancy Amidei Movement Builder award.

Thank you to everyone who submitted nominations. It was really cool to see our community come together to recognize the great movement builders in the housing world. We are very excited about the work that these advocates will continue to do, and to learn more about how we can work together to realize the mission of ensuring everyone in Washington has access to a safe, healthy, and affordable home!

Nominees:
Maureen Fife, Board President, Habitat for Humanity of Washington State
Andy Silver, Executive Director, Council for the Homeless
Community Health Worker Collaborative of Pierce County
Dennis Saxman, Community Organizer, Resident Action Project
Floribert H. Mubalama, Executive Director and Board President, Congolese Integration Network
James Pickus, Volunteer, Tenants Union of Washington
Judith E. White, Chair, Legislative Action Team serving the Manufactured/Mobile Home Community in Washington
Julia Sterkovsky, Executive Director, Seattle Human Services Coalition
Anitra Freeman, Board of Directors, Real Change
Ubax Gardeere, Program Director, Puget Sound Sage
Rizwan Rizwi, Director, Muslim Housing Services
Alison Eisinger, Executive Director, Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness
Estela Ortega, Executive Director, El Centro De La Raza
Teresa Clark, Director of Organizing, Washington Low Income Housing Alliance (we are humbled and honored that someone from our team was nominated!)

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