Top 10 Housing Alliance Moments of 2014 (7-6)

As 2014 draws to a close, we reflect back on the top ten Housing Alliance moments of this year. We'll present the list to you in segments. Here is Part 2, moments 7 & 6.





#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.

Stay tuned as we'll be rolling out the rest of the list here at our blog as 2014 winds down.

Do you have your own housing & homelessness advocacy highlights from 2014? Share yours at our Facebook and Twitter pages.



Top 10 Housing Alliance Moments of 2014 (10-8)

As 2014 draws to a close, we reflect back on the top ten Housing Alliance moments of this year. We'll present the list to you in segments. Here first are moments 10 through 8.




#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.

Stay tuned as we'll be rolling out the rest of the list here at our blog as 2014 winds down.

Do you have your own housing & homelessness advocacy highlights from 2014? Share yours at our Facebook and Twitter pages.




Rachael Myers, Executive Director

Today, people all over the world are participating in #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back.

In Housing Alliance land, we’re celebrating Gratitude Tuesday, since we recently released our 2013-14 Gratitude Report.

If you haven’t yet taken a look, please do. In it, we reflect on the progress we've made together over the last year to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to live in a safe, healthy, affordable home. 

And if you participate in Giving Tuesday today, please consider supporting the Housing Alliance. 

This year, we protected funding that will keep 32,000 people from becoming homeless. 

Next year, we'll continue the fight to end homelessness and ensure a home for everyone in Washington. We have ambitious goals that we can only achieve with support from you.

We'll continue to advocate so that children can live in a stable home and have the opportunity to succeed in school and in life. 

We'll continue to educate because hardworking people should not have to choose between paying rent and putting food on the table. 

And we'll continue to organize our statewide movement because it’s only fair that everyone has a safe place to live.

But we can only continue with your financial support. You can make your Giving Tuesday gift to the Housing Alliance quickly and easily here.

Thank you for being a part of our community.

"It Would Actually Be Very Simple to End Homelessness"

Ben Miksch, Affordable Housing Policy and Advocacy Specialist

Have you read Bryce Covert's ThinkProgress article "It Would Actually Be Very Simple to End Homelessness" yet?

The in-depth article features our executive director Rachael Myers and Emerging Advocates Program graduate Kirk McClain and focuses on what it would take to actually end homelessness.And I have a positive update to the article: Kirk has moved into an apartment, thanks in part to some support from the programs that we all advocate for every year. Unfortunately, as we all know, there are still far too many people who need support, but aren't able to get it.

One of the solutions highlighted in the article is the United For Homes campaign. This is the proposal to provide the affordable housing our country needs by modifying the mortgage interest deduction to fund the National Housing Trust Fund. You can read more about the specifics of this proposal here.
As Bryce states in the closing of the article, "The solutions are there. The public is moving in the right direction. What is lacking is political willingness to spend money."

If your organization supports the idea that legislators should stand up for our most vulnerable, consider joining the Housing Alliance and 60 Washington State organizations and endorse the United For Homes campaign.

You can see the full list of endorsers here:



A new face at the Housing Alliance...

Haley Jo Lewis, Communications Intern

My name is Haley Jo Lewis, and I am excited to be Washington Low Income Housing Alliance’s new Communications Intern! I am originally from sunny San Diego and moved to Seattle three years ago to attend Seattle University where I am currently in my senior year studying communications.

During my time at Seattle University, I have become aware of many issues in our community and have become engaged in social justice work in a variety of platforms. I have both volunteered with and worked for the Seattle University Youth Initiative as a member of the Redhawk Reading Corp. For this program, I volunteered as a reading tutor in elementary classrooms, where students from low-income families received extra support in learning to read. This work was extremely rewarding. Seeing the progress students made throughout the year because of our program made me realize how possible it is to create change in our communities. Building meaningful relationships with program participants is something I’ll always cherish.

When I saw an opportunity in the Communication Department for work at the Project on Family Homelessness, I couldn’t turn it down. I have always been interested in the issue of homelessness. I’m particularly interested in changing the negative public perceptions of individuals experiencing homelessness. I hope that, someday in the future, we can humanize the issue and build a grand-scale social movement to end homelessness.

My first experience working in coordination with the Housing Alliance was at Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day 2014. I met their “communications guy,” Joaquin, and others from the Housing Alliance and attended a workshop on using social media for advocacy led by Joaquin and members of the local advocacy organization Firesteel. It was my first experience at Advocacy Day, and I was pleased to find that both the workshops as well as the legislative meetings were easy to follow. Although I had very little prior knowledge of the legislative process, I found that by the end of the day I had a better understanding of how it all works, and I felt like I had really made an impact in being there. I am now so excited to attend Advocacy Day 2015. I knew right from the beginning that the Housing Alliance knew what they were doing!

As a Communications Intern, I am excited to assist in social media work, research, data analysis, digital design, and many other tasks for various Housing Alliance staff members. I hope my skills will help keep the Housing Alliance running smoothly and effectively. I also hope to be a bridge between them and the Seattle University Project on Family Homelessness on various projects, keeping these two awesome organizations in communication with one another, supporting one another’s work, and working together to end homelessness.

I am eager to gain experience in the communications sector of nonprofit and advocacy work and am honored to be given this opportunity! Hopefully I’ll see you at this coming Advocacy Day on Tuesday, February 17, 2015 in Olympia.


Photos: Top: Me at Advocacy Day 2014 (Photo courtesy of Catherine Hinrichsen). Bottom (left to right): Me, Graham Pruss, and Joaquin Uy at Advocacy Day 2014 (Photo courtesy of Catherine Hinrichsen).



Save the Date for our 2014 Member Meeting & Reception

Thursday, November 20, 2014 from 5:00-7:00pm
At the UW Integrated Design Lab  |  Bullitt Center
1501 E Madison St
Seattle, 98122

Appetizers and alcoholic & nonalcoholic beverages will be provided.

RSVP to Andrea Marcos at andrea(at)wliha(dot)org or 206.442.9455 x212 to reserve your spot! Space is limited.

We hope you’ll mark your calendar for our Annual Member Meeting on November 20. We’ll have a dynamic panel discussion that connects the dots between affordable homes and other priorities like improving physical and mental health, planning for a growing population, and ensuring a quality education for every child.

In addition to the panel, you’ll have the opportunity to meet and vote for board members and to celebrate another year of advocacy. This isn’t a fundraiser. Leave your wallet at home, and come join us.

Hope to see you there!

Special thanks to our Annual Member Meeting sponsor:



As temps drop, City of Yakima says no to homeless shelter

Housing Alliance Staff

In our ongoing work to reduce homelessness in Yakima, the Homeless Network of Yakima County has been planning to create a permanent homeless shelter.

This truly started as a group effort that included City of Yakima leadership since the day the planning started. Local nonprofit Yakima Neighborhood Health Services took lead on the studies, surveys, funding research, and reporting to increase community support. Admittedly, overall support from city officials was lacking. However, throughout the process, the mayor and council voiced wanting a solution to shelter the city’s homeless population and voiced wanted to be included in the process. This is why the network was shocked when during the final minutes of the October 21st city council meeting, City Manager Tony O’Rourke requested an emergency vote for a moratorium on zoning for any new homeless shelters in the city limits.

At issue, according to Mr. O’Rourke (pictured right) was the proposed shelter location. The site is situated just outside of a designated business corridor in an area he considers a possible site for “gentrification.” Based on research compiled by different agencies, we believe the site is ideal for a permanent shelter because it’s located within walking distance of other service provider locations as well as the main transit center. The proposed site is also in an area where people who are homeless have historically congregated. When surveyed about the potential shelter, residents in the neighborhood were overwhelmingly supportive. The majority of comments spoke to the benefit of offering an alternative to sleeping in parks, doorways, or in empty houses. Because people have nowhere else to go, we believe the city will have a difficult time finding investment in this neighborhood. Our studies indicate the shelter is a positive step in the community’s urban renewal.

In addition, the lack of shelter has resulted in the city’s ongoing criminalization of homeless people. Increasingly police have been arresting individuals for loitering in parks or trespassing in the areas where they camp. Members of the city council have expressed their frustration with the issues of homelessness. But their solutions are to make ordinances, such as the recent panhandling law, with the philosophy that the homeless will simply “go away” if they fear law enforcement.

Fortunately, city council members questioned why the city manager presented the moratorium without community or council input. They further protested that the item was never on the agenda. Council members Kathy Coffey and Rick Ensey voted against the moratorium. The moratorium passed. However, this lack of consensus means the moratorium won’t go into effect for another 30 days. This means Yakima Neighborhood Health Services can still submit their request for the shelter zoning considerations. Also, there will be a public hearing at the November 18th city council meeting.

Homeless Network of Yakima County members, the ALPHA Team (a group of currently and formerly homeless advocates), and other community supporters are rallying to organize advocacy efforts to show the city that Yakima residents truly support a permanent shelter. Please help us tell the Yakima City Manager and Yakima City Council Members why a permanent shelter benefits the entire community:

Please join us to overcome this barrier to making a permanent shelter a reality in the City of Yakima!

Photos: Top Right: Yakima City Manager Tony O'Rourke (Photo Credit: City of Yakima). Middle Left: Emerging Advocates Program attendees in support of the homeless shelter. Bottom Right: Homeless Network of Yakima County Annual Picnic (Photo Credit: Homeless Network of Yakima County).



When even a full-time job isn’t enough for rent…

Joaquin Uy, Communications Specialist

The National Housing Conference recently released an update to their online tool that compares wages with the cost of housing in cities across the nation. Their interactive Paycheck to Paycheck database reveals what many across Washington already know: an affordable home continues to be an impossibility for many with full-time jobs.

All Washington residents should be able to afford a home and still have enough left over their basic necessities, like healthcare, food, and transportation costs. By the numbers, this means that one should only pay no more than 30% of their income for housing costs. However, as Paycheck to Paycheck shows, this is clearly not possible for many workers across the state. Take for instance the occupation of a home health aide. As our nation’s population ages and baby boomers live longer, home health care is one of America’s fastest growing professional fields.

When you examine the Paycheck to Paycheck numbers for home health aides, you find that out of the seven major Washington cities included in the database, home health aides can only afford a rental home in one of those cities (Kennewick, see left). Additionally, a home health aide could not afford to buy a home in any of these cities. In fact, if a household consisted of two home care aides (double the average salary), even then this family couldn’t afford to buy home in all seven of the areas studied (see left).

Both renting a home and owning a home has become an impossibility for more than home health aides. When you poke around the Paycheck to Paycheck tool, you’ll find that a surprisingly diverse array of occupations are also priced out of the market across the state.

This is why the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance works to ensure the state legislature passes sound policy and legislation to increase affordable homes. The state has a widening affordable housing gap. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, for every 100 extremely low-income families in King County, earning less than $23,400 a year for a family of three, only 30 affordable apartments are available. Clearly, not only do wages need to keep with rents, but we also need more homes affordable to the entire spectrum of wages in Washington.

Stay tuned, as we’ll be soon releasing our legislative priorities focused on protecting renters, ensuring a disability doesn’t result in homelessness, and utilizing the capital budget to help increase opportunities for safe, healthy, affordable homes.

Housing Alliance endorses Initiative 594

The Washington Low Income Housing Alliance believes that everyone in Washington should have the opportunity to live in a safe, healthy, affordable home in a thriving community. Gun violence hurts communities and undermines that vision. For that reason, the Housing Alliance endorses Initiative 594.

Reducing gun violence in our state will help build healthier, safer, more thriving communities. Please vote yes on I-594 when you vote your General Election ballot.

What does I-594 do?

The initiative makes sure anyone buying a gun in Washington State passes the same background check, no matter where they buy the gun and no matter whom they buy it from. It requires the same background check for private purchases, including those at gun shows, as are currently required at licensed gun dealerships.

For more information, visit:

Center for American Progress Gun Background Check infographic.

I-594 Frequently Asked Questions form.



Class Matters

Irene Basloe Saraf, Guest Blogger

On September 20, a group of Washington Low Income Housing Alliance and Washington Housing Alliance Action Fund staff and board members joined with many other social justice activists and advocates for an all-day workshop titled, “Class & Social Change: Harnessing the Strengths of Diverse Class Cultures.” Real Change, Housing Alliance, Social Justice Fund NW, and Class Action came together to sponsor the workshop.

From the very start, the facilitators – Anita Garcia Morales, Alan Preston, and Betsy Leondar-Wright – created a safe space so that we could all open up about our own class identities. And that was a good thing because I had expected a somewhat abstract discussion of the effects of class on social justice work. But Anita, Alan and Betsy created a workshop encouraging us to think about class in a very personal way. And they approach class this way because, as they note, “[a]cknowledging class privilege is an important step towards becoming an anti-classist ally.”

We spent the morning in class caucuses, established by our class status at around age 12. The facilitators believe that our class experience at that formative time in our life strongly influences how we operate today. We divided into class groups based on a variety of measures: our parents’ educational attainment, our parents’ economic and career status, the type of home we lived in, our parents’ influence in the community, among others. We were then asked to discuss, list, and then present to the whole group what our particular class background brings to our social justice work.

All of the groups were insightful in noting how a particular class background could both help and hinder social justice work. There were lots of differences across the classes. But I was really intrigued by the similarities. For instance, most of the classes were willing to take risks – those who had been poor or working class because they were accustomed to having nothing to lose, and those who had been middle, upper-middle, and owning class because they had a cushion if the risk didn’t work out.

Later in the day, we worked on creating messages on various social justice issues that would resonate and persuade across classes. The issues included housing, the environment, and school-to-prison pipeline to name a few. We learned that poor and working-class activists tend to use colorful sayings, metaphors, and analogies and first or second person stories, while college-educated activists tend to use abstract terms to explain and analyze a situation. Both of these descriptive traits are strengths; the most persuasive messages utilize elements of both, picking the most accessible of all the abstract terms associated with an issue and then creating a short and vivid message around that term.

We also explored how class can impact internal conflicts in groups. Each class leans toward a particular pitfall in conflicts. And we talked about how to navigate around those pitfalls and instead raise disagreements in ways that are both humane and assertive and resolve conflicts with collaboration rather than antagonism.

I found it enlightening – if sometimes a little uncomfortable – to spend a day poking at my own class privilege. And it was valuable to learn about the impact of class and classism on social justice work. Given that one overt class indicator is housing type, advocacy around housing and homelessness will invariably intersect with issues of class. The workshop showed me the value of addressing those issues head on, rather than avoiding or deflecting them.

By the end of the day, I appreciated the truth in the words of the late founding co-director of Class Action, Felice Yeskel: “Gaining greater awareness about how class affects what we do and how we do it is an ongoing process. The more contact we have with folks from across the class spectrum, the greater the opportunities for gaining awareness.”

To learn more about Class Action’s unique analysis, check out

Photos. (Right): The pink sign indicates your class background when you were 12-years of age. The yellow sign indicates your class status today that is connected to your class background. (Bottom): This pink sign indicates another category of class background.




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