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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Outcomes for the Housing Trust Fund

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

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

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

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

Set-asides in 6074 -
LIHI: $1.8 million

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

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


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

With gratitude,
Michele 

We did it!

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

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

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

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

Rachael Myers

This Week in Housing Advocacy: Keep it Coming!

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

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

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

Please take action today.

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

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

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

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

 

The 99% Spring Action Training Next Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for your advocacy,

--Ben

Great Special Briefing with Senator Nelson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here!

This Week in Housing Advocacy: A Special Message from the Speaker

The Speaker asked us to share this special message with you:

"We still have a good chance to pass a jobs package that includes a substantial amount for housing, but it depends on whether people advocate for it. You need to keep fighting for our values — work your individual projects as well as the big picture items like housing as a whole. You can still make a difference, there's no doubt about it."
– Speaker Frank Chopp, 43rd LD

Take action today.

Monday marks day 22 of the 30-day special session. Whether or not the Legislature will be able to finish without another special session remains to be seen. The Governor’s office reported late last week that negotiations are intensive, but that no agreement had been reached and are at the point where it could either come closer together or explode. Word is that both chambers have put their members on standby for a possible Wednesday session, but what that indicates is uncertain.
 
It may not be a bad thing that negotiations are tough.
That could indicate that our messages to stand strong and not compromise on the safety net are working. But we know that our allies are under tremendous pressure to fold and go home. Representative Dunshee shared on a call with Housing Alliance members last Thursday, that we need to keep reaching out with messages to protect the safety net and fund the Housing Trust Fund. That is why Speaker Chopp asked us to share his words of encouragement with you.

We are in the final weeks of the first special session and yet Housing and Essential Needs, the Housing Trust Fund, TANF and Disability Lifeline Medical are still at risk of deep cuts or worse, no funding at all.

But as Speaker Chopp says, “You can still make a difference, there’s no doubt about it.” 

Your advocacy saved 2048 and passed the Fair Tenant Screening Act and we can still ensure good outcomes from the budget negotiations. Take action today.

We asked for a Groundswell and You Delivered

Last Wednesday, we learned that the Washington Association of County Officials (the state auditors association) was lobbying hard for a Governor’s veto of 2048. Why? Because they hold a conservative opposition to fees in general. And as you may recall, tremendous efforts were undertaken throughout this session and last, to address and appease their concerns. Language was added to the bill early on to ensure that the fees only apply to real estate related documents and later, another amendment was added so that the auditors themselves wouldn’t have to determine which documents the fees apply to. Yet still, new complaints were being raised at the last hour.

So we asked for a groundswell of calls to the Governor asking her to sign it in full and to sign it soon. And you delivered. Many people contacted us to share that the Governor’s office was finishing their sentences by the time they called. Then later that night the Governor’s office announced that she would sign bills the next day and 2048 was third on the list! She signed it in full, with no veto. Thank you Governor Gregoire for prioritizing this important bill!

Huge thank you's are of course due to Representative Kenney and Senator Kohl-Welles for their leadership. This was one of Representative Kenney’s last bills — a fine way to close a stellar career in public service. Please send both her and Senator Kohl-Welles a quick email of thanks. Senator Hobbs and every advocate who testified, who met with their elected officials, emailed and made calls — all deserve a huge thank you as well.

You Are Asking Our Champions to Stand Strong, We Need You to do the Same
Speaker Chopp’s words of encouragement couldn’t have come at more critical time. Although the negotiations are all behind closed doors, your messages are being heard. We hope you take his advice to heart and continue to take action until the final decisions are made. We still have a chance to make sure that the Housing Trust Fund receives a healthy allocation and that Housing and Essential Needs, TANF, Disability Lifeline Medical and other safety-net programs are fully funded — and not eliminated. Join us tomorrow to learn more about the impact of your advocacy from Senator Nelson and take action today.

Thank you for your tenacious commitment to standing up for affordable housing and an end to homelessness,
Michele

Governor Gregoire signed 2048!

Great news! Governor Gregoire signed EHB 2048 into law. Thank you everyone who called the Governor's office, it's really because of you that we were able to make this happen.

For more information, please see our official press release: http://wliha.org/news/press-release-governor-signs-bipartisan-bill-preve...

Veto 2048? No way! Call the Governor now!

The passage of HB 2048 at the end of last month was an incredible victory that will bring our state closer to ending homelessness. After 2048 goes into effect, at least 71,000 will either be saved from entering the brutality of homelessness or will be lifted out of it. But the County Auditors are trying to prevent this. They are asking the Governor to veto the bill.

Please call the Governor’s office today at 360-902-4111 and ask her to sign HB 2048 in full and as soon as possible.



(The reason to ask her to "sign in full" is because the Governor technically has the authority to do line-item vetoes. This is a good bill and we don't want to see anything vetoed.)

Why are the auditors asking the Governor to veto the bill?
Because they hold a conservative opposition to fees in general. As you may recall, tremendous efforts were taken to address and appease their concerns. Language was added to the bill early on to ensure that the fees only apply to real estate related documents and later, another amendment was added so that the auditors themselves wouldn’t have to determine which documents the fees apply to. Yet they keep creating new concerns. Please contact the Governor to tell her enough is enough. This bill is too important to the many in Washington struggling in homelessness or struggling to keep a roof over their heads. 2048 must be signed into law, in full, as soon as possible.

Want to do more than make a call? Facebook, Tweet and forward this action alert to your board, member list, colleagues, volunteers, friends and family. Tell them why you care and why their voice matters.

Thank you for taking action,
Michele

 

This Week in Housing Advocacy: Taking Action Has Rarely Been This Important

Our elected officials are facing enormous pressure to compromise and close special session. But devastating choices are still on the table, including the elimination of Housing and Essential Needs and Disability Lifeline Medical, and deep cuts to TANF. And funding for the Housing Trust Fund is yet to be determined.

After months and months of session, the Housing Alliance understands advocacy fatigue. (Believe me, we really understand.) But if we suddenly become silent now, if the emails and calls stop coming, we risk ending with devastating cuts to programs that are literally saving the lives of thousands of homeless and very low-income people in every corner of the state. HEN, DL, TANF and the Housing Trust Fund – each make the difference between having a roof or living on the street. Please renew your pledge to advocacy and make a call today.

Our champions need encouragement and our opponents need to be asked to do the right thing.

Please take a moment to leave one message for all of your elected officials today. Ask them to, “Pass revenue, fully fund the safety net and fund the Housing Trust Fund at $71 million, while taking no action that compromises the capacity of the Capital Budget in years to come.” (A mouthful I know, but the patient hotline volunteers should bear with you.)

Make the call today to the state’s toll free Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000

(Open Monday - Friday 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM, breaking 12:00 – 1:00 for lunch.)

Can you get three other people to call as well? We need a groundswell.

We need as many people as possible joining this call to action. And we need you to help remind them that it is not only okay to take action again, but it is critical that we continue to repeat ourselves until the budget is done and the ink is dry on the Governor’s signature.

You are Being Heard

Last Wednesday, HEN and TANF recipients, service providers and Revenue Coalition members held a press conference in Olympia to highlight the importance of these programs. They shared how these programs have helped them to leave homelessness and to hold their families together. And the Senate Democrats showed that they were listening when they highlighted the testimonials in their blog. Housing Alliance advocates from Serenity Housing in Clallam County and from the Grant County Housing Authority were highlighted. Serenity House brought John Mash, an unemployed construction worker, down to Olympia who helped dispel stereotypes of HEN recipients when he shared his personal story of homelessness and how HEN has offered a path out:

“Disability Lifeline and then the HEN program, provides me a small apartment in Sequim, it’s a palace to me, it got me back on my feet and connected me to the counseling and medical services that I definitely needed. This may sound hokey, but it literally saved my life. Last year I was without hope and on the streets, but this got me exactly what I needed to get myself started again and I’m extremely happy now…like I said it is a tiny little apartment, but I wake up in the morning, see the mountains and wonder how I got here from a year ago.” - John Mash, HEN advocate

Steffanie Bonwell from Grant County Housing Authority actually came to Olympia on December 1st to testify on the importance of HEN during the Fall Special Session and her terrific testimony was again highlighted by the Senate when The Hopper linked back to her speaking before the Senate Ways and Means Committee. It is heartening to have such tangible proof that we are being heard. Thank you and keep up the amazing advocacy! You can read the blog post here.

Progress Remains Slow on Budget Negotiations
Closed-door negotiations reportedly brought all sides closer together last week. Marty Brown, Governor Gregoire’s chief budget writer, reported that new ideas have been brought to the table and that there is, “More understanding among all sides than there was last week.” He also reports, that, “Everyone has good ideas, we’ve used things from every side’s proposals…. and it is a good process for all of us because of that.” Despite his optimistic take, even he reports that there is much left to do and that progress is moving slowly.

Midway through the week, the Governor’s office announced a new idea to address the budget deficit and to avoid further conversation on either the Democrats' one-day school delay or the Republicans' skipping of pension payments. The Governor’s idea, essentially a cash flow fix rather than a cut or implementation of a new revenue source, would allow the state to spend payments owed to local government while the funds are in the state’s possession, instead of allocating it immediately to local governments. It is said that it would allow the state’s budget to have about $238 million more on hand at any given time, which is a compromise between the two amounts saved between the Democratic and Republican favored methods.  Read more about the new idea here.

Capital Budget Update
Meanwhile, progress on the Capital Budget and the Jobs Package not only remained stalled, but some new ideas that have been put on the table in the overall budget negotiations threaten to weaken the capacity of the Capital Budget for years to come. Possibly the worst threat is the idea to permanently redirect current capital revenue streams (specifically, taxes on toxic waste, known as the Model Toxics Control Act or MTCA) into the Operating Budget. While this has the benefit of creating a small amount of more capacity in the Operating Budget, it permanently and substantially reduces the size of the Capital Budget, thereby compromising the Housing Trust Fund, weatherization programs, public facilities, and other important capital projects. This shortsighted attack on capital programs, like similar transfers away from the Capital Budget that have regularly been made in past years, is unnecessary.  Rather than raiding funds from one program or budget to fund another, the Legislature should instead focus on long-term revenue solutions that could expand both budgets and create enough capacity to both fully fund our safety net and invest in the Housing Trust Fund. The refusal of some legislators (particularly the Senate Republicans) to even consider serious revenue solutions, and instead raid MTCA and other existing funds is why we’ve included a new request to elected officials in this week’s action to, “take no action that compromises the long-term capacity of the Capital Budget.”

The Economic Opportunity Institute published a new paper recently in which they argue for the passage of the Jobs Package (including the Capital Budget) because of the job creation and local stimulus that the packages will bring. Despite the noticeable absence of mention of the Trust Fund, the paper does a nice job outlining the need for construction jobs and provides a basic primer on what a bond is. Check it out here.

Lastly, I want to end with a huge thank you to the tremendous, tenacious and hard-working Housing Alliance team who have all held on through every special session with their eyes firmly fixed on the prize. Nick Federici and Seth Dawson and Moque Krape – all most closely impacted by the never-ending sessions - deserve special shout-outs. But everyone at the Housing Alliance deserves deep thanks for their hard, hard work. I’m honored and so lucky to work with such an amazing crew: Rachael Myers, Nick Federici, Seth Dawson, Moque Krape, Ben Miksch, Alouise Urness, Natalia Fior, and Jon Morgan. 

Thanks to every Housing Alliance advocate and to the Housing Alliance team for keeping the advocacy going,
Michele

Register Now - 22nd Annual Conference on Ending Homelessness

Registration for our 22nd Annual Conference on Ending Homelessness is now open!  You can register online or download and return the registration form here.

This year’s theme is The Changing Face of Homelessness.  There will be workshops on a variety of topics including youth and child welfare, veterans, employment, overcoming NIMBYism, the McKinney-Vento and HEARTH Acts, communications, and policy and advocacy workshops that will offer tools to build a movement to end homelessness. The conference will include the popular SOAR academy which helps service providers better assist people who are homeless to access disability income benefits.

In addition to skill-building workshops, we'll have keynote speakers--including Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn--who will engage you and address current trends, and opportunities to network and get to know your peers from around the state.

New this year, we're adding a special awards dinner and reception on May 17th from 6 to 8pm to bring together homelessness and housing advocates to celebrate the Coalition for the Homeless and the Housing Alliance joining forces and the progress we've made together so far.  We'll also recognize our legislative champions and some of the advocates who have insired us and made that progress possible. This event will take place Thursday evening at a nearby location.  You can purchase your ticket when registering for the conference. The event is a fundraiser to support our ongoing advocacy work, and guests will be invited to make a contribution. Dinner, wine, beer, and non-alcoholic beverages are included in your ticket price. We look forward to seeing you there!

Rates for the conference are shown below.  Limited scholarships will be available.  Applications are available on our website and are due back to the Housing Alliance by noon on April 9th.

 

Full Conference

Wed or Thurs only

Friday only

Early Rate (until 4/20)

$275

$175

$100

Regular Rate (until 5/5)

$375

$275

$100

Late Rate (after 5/5)

$450

$325

$100

Awards event

$25 for conference attendees, $30 for others

I hope to see you in Yakima in May!  In the meantime, if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to email me.

Sincerely,
Jon

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