As 2014 draws to a close, we reflect back on the top ten Housing Alliance moments of this year. We'll present (finally) the entire list to you here, including NUMBER ONE! Let us know about your personal housing & homelessness advocacy highlights from 2014. Share yours at our Facebook and Twitter pages. And may you have a very Happy New Year!
#10 - Our Issues Trended on the Social Media Day of Action.
We kicked off 2014 strong with a Social Media Day of Action on January 15. From 12:00am to 11:59pm, our supporters and friends made #HHAD2014 a trending hashtag on Twitter and Facebook. The day of action helped us more than DOUBLE our reach and bring attention to our 2014 affordable housing and homelessness legislative priorities.
#9 - SEA...HAWKS!!!
Housing Alliance staff had a front row seat for the Super Bowl Champions Parade that took place in downtown Seattle on February 5. Although, it took awhile for our beloved Seahawks to pass our offices on 4th & Union. Once they did, we greeted them with loud cheers, blue & green confetti, and of course, Skittles! You can see our complete set of photos from the celebration here.
#8 - 2014 Housing & Homelessness Advocacy Day Breaks Records.
Every year, Housing & Homelessness Advocacy Day sets the tone for the upcoming legislative session and is one of our state’s largest advocacy gatherings. At Advocacy Day 2014 on January 28, our first-ever photo booth sponsored by Seattle-based advocacy organization Firesteel was a hit. In another first, at least 1 out of every 5 Advocacy Day attendees was a nonprofit board member. Registration for Housing & Homelessness Advocacy Day 2015 is now open! You can register here.
Photo courtesy of Firesteel.
#7 - Gong Ceremony at the Capitol to Commemorate Statewide Homelessness.
On Thursday March 6, advocates from all over Washington sounded a gong exactly 5,043 times to recognize the 5,043 individuals found sleeping outside at night across the state during the January 2013 point-in-time count of homeless individuals across the state. The gong ringing took place in front of the capitol dome, and 19 legislators participated. We also held a press conference to draw attention to our efforts to save the Document Recording Fee/Homeless Housing & Assistance Surcharge Bill.
Pictured right: Rep. Jessyn Farrell (46th LD - Lake Forest Park)
#6 - Senator Patty Murray Wows the Audience at our Annual Awards Event.
We were so pleased to have Senator Patty Murray join us at Bringing Washington Home, our 5th Annual Advocacy Awards ceremony. However, we weren’t expecting her to touch on so many of our Emerging Advocates Program graduates’ stories. In her own words, “They serve as an important reminder that the programs for which you advocate represent a lifeline for members of our communities—our neighbors or friends in need.” Emerging Advocates Program (EAP) graduates Rebecca Snow Landa, Glenda Miller, and Susan Russell were in the audience to hear Sen. Murray reflect on their experiences. They also were there to cheer on their fellow EAP grads and evening awardees Shelby Powell, and Ellie Lambert. It was a great night celebrating the power of advocacy and our community.
Pictured below (l-r): Susan Russell, Virginia Shelby Powell (2014 Grassroots Leader of the Year), Ellie Lambert (2014 Individual Advocate of the Year), Glenda Miller, Thomas Green, and Rebecca Snow Landa.
#5 - Medicaid Supportive Housing Benefit White Paper Release.
Summer in Seattle can be...slow. But policy staff were hard at work on a research paper exploring the concept of creating a new Medicaid benefit to both help end chronic homelessness and bring permanent supportive housing (PSH) to scale. PSH pairs affordable housing with intensive tenancy support services, housing case management, and care coordination. It’s designed to serve people who are experiencing or are at risk of chronic homelessness and who have a severe and persistent mental health disorder, a chemical dependency disability, or chronic and complex physical health conditions. Although permanent supportive housing exists across Washington, there is not enough funding currently available to bring this model fully to scale.
#4 - 2014 Conference on Ending Homelessness Sets Records.
The 2014 Annual Conference on Ending Homelessness (COEH) in Yakima on May 21-22 was record-setting in many ways. We had the highest number of attendees for Yakima ever: 617 housing and homelessness service providers and private sector employees from all over Washington attended the two days of workshops. Attendees could pick from 50 workshops, our highest number yet. And 22 of them offered Continuing Education Unit credits, also a record.
Our 2014 COEH keynote speakers were especially entertaining. Nonprofit blogger Vu Le first made attendees laugh when entering the stage to the epic theme music from the cable television program “Game of Thrones.” But his reflections as a young child raised in a family that recently immigrated to the US were both humorous and thought-provoking. And Rex Holbien’s presentation of the striking images and stories he’s documented for his Facing Homelessness project led to a standing ovation and not a dry eye in the house.
#3 - Emerging Advocates Program Reunites!
Our Emerging Advocates Program (EAP) trains individuals who have experienced homelessness or housing instability in a range of skills for effective advocacy. EAP participants from all three 2014 programs joined with last year's attendees for an October celebration with Housing Alliance staff. In addition to a display of art created by EAP graduates, we had a visual timeline that charted organizational and personal milestones since the program began in 2013. There was also an open mic for anyone who wanted to share their personal experiences during or since the EAP program.
#2 - Prioritizing Anti-oppression and Equity: Class Matters!
Towards the end of 2014, Housing Alliance staff and a board member underwent "Exploring Class and Class Cultures," an all-day training using materials from the organization Class Action. With support from facilitators, staff reflected on their class background growing up and how it both motivates and strengthens their day-to-day work at the Housing Alliance. We also explored messaging styles and communication norms unique to specific classes and across class. We all developed tools to challenge micro-aggressions that we may we encounter within the organization and in the broader community. The Housing Alliance staff emerged knowing much more about each other’s past and the unique perspectives and strengths we all bring to our work.
#1 (tied) - Document Recording Fee/Homeless Housing & Assistance Surcharge Bill KILLED in Committee.
On the evening of February 27, the thud of a gavel made shockwaves throughout the homeless community and beyond. With this single action, a committee chair had effectively killed our bipartisan-supported Document Recording Fee Bill that would have kept in place a modest $40 document recording fee to fund effective homeless services across the state. An audio recording of Senators Don Benton, Steve Hobbs, and Sharon Nelson objecting to the abrupt end of the committee meeting was released, and we went into nonstop emergency mode to spread the news far and wide.
#1 (tied) - Document Recording Fee/Homeless Housing & Assistance Surcharge Bill SAVED in the Last Hours of Session!
Yup, we just couldn't help ourselves. We have two highlights tied for number one, one a really terrible moment for housing and homelessness, and the other a really awesome triumph! In two weeks, we saw over 70 total media hits from publications all over Washington about the “legislative malpractice” that killed the Document Recording Fee Bill. The media clamor combined with our coordinated efforts to maintain and amplify the advocacy for this bill resulted in a final hours legislative win. In the last moments of the 2014 Legislative Session, both houses passed an alternate version of the bill that preserved the housing and homeless surcharge until 2019. This meant successful services across Washington could continue to transition people off the streets into shelter and stability.
Pictured below: Some of our favorite memes from this past legislative session.
What are your housing & homelessness advocacy highlights from 2014? Let us know at our Facebook and Twitter pages.