2016 State Advocacy on Homelessness


2016 State Advocacy on Homelessness

The Washington state legislative session starts January 11, 2016, and is scheduled to end March 11.

These are the initial 2016 State issues regarding homelessness:

  • Housing Trust Fund (HTF):  Our state priorities include funding the Housing Trust Fund at the highest level possible. The Housing Trust Fund builds desperately need housing for low income families and individuals, and is the catalyst needed to match other funding to complete projects.
  • Maintain and expand the Housing and Essential Needs Program (HEN): HEN ensures that people with temporary mental or physical disabilities who cannot work and have no resources can meet some of their basic needs. Rent and utility assistance are paid directly to landlords and utility companies.  It is an important homelessness prevention program.

Tip:  Get on the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance mailing list for issue updates.

Who to contact:

All of us in Washington State are represented by one state district senator and two district representatives, depending on where we live.

Find and contact the elected officials in your district:  http://app.leg.wa.gov/districtfinder/

Or you can call the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000.  The Legislative Hotline operates after January 11, and during business hours.  You can leave messages for your legislators on the hotline.

What to say:

Here are some sample messages.  Please personalize them with your experiences and opinions.  It’s much more powerful to send an individualized message, than a canned message.

Dear Senator OR Representative _________________,

Thank you for your commitment and hard work on behalf of our district and Washington State.

I’m writing today gravely concerned about the numbers of people I see living outside, particularly children, youth and the elderly.

Rental costs continue to rise in our communities, driving us out of the neighborhoods where we live, work and pray and where our children play and attend school. Even while business is booming in some areas across the state, it is not translating to affordable homes anywhere.

States across the nation are seeing a decline in people experiencing unsheltered homelessness, but not in Washington where we have homelessness emergency with with a 16.8% increase.

The Housing Trust Fund’s purpose is to solve this emergency by increasing and preserving the supply of rental housing for extremely low and very low income families, including our homeless families.

Thank you for supporting our growing minimum wage, but it is not nearly enough for families and individuals to keep up with increasing rentals costs.

I’m stunned that WA State is one of just five states experiencing the largest homelessness increases the past year.  Seattle/King County follows only New York City and Los Angeles as the communities with the largest homeless populations.

The solution to our homelessness emergency is to create affordable homes. Can we count on you to champion and support a significant increase in funding to the Housing Trust Fund to begin housing our thousands of men, women and children struggling to live on our streets?

Thank you for your leadership in our district and on behalf of all Washingtonians.

Respectfully,

Your name

Address (legislators like to know if you are living in their district)

Phone # and email

 

Dear Senator OR Representative __________________ ,

I write to thank you for your great service to our state and district.

Washington State is a proud, high-profile leader in technology, aerospace and medicine, and business is booming in many of our communities.

Unfortunately, we are also becoming a leader in homelessness.  Washington State is now among the top five states with the largest increases of homeless people.  Seattle/King County follows only New York City and Los Angeles as the communities with the largest numbers of homeless people the past year, many of them mentally or physically disabled.

The Housing and Essential Needs Support Program (HEN) is an essential safety net and only one of a few programs to help people avoid homelessness through temporary basic needs support (rent, utilities, transportation, hygiene products) for a particularly vulnerable population of temporarily mentally or physically disabled people facing economic hardship.

We ask that you vigorously support increased funding to HEN to help alleviate our homelessness emergency. We believe that those who are disabled by drug and alcohol addiction also require a safety net and ask that you extend HEN to those working on recovery in the Medicaid Apple Health Program.

Pope Francis tells us that “The measure of the greatness of a society is found in the way it treats those most in need, those who have nothing apart from their poverty.”

Thank you for your leadership on behalf of our community and all of us in the great state of Washington.

Respectfully yours,

Name

Address

Contact phone and email