Policy Matters

Programs To End Homelessness Are Working — But They’ll Be Cut If We Don’t Take Action

Jenny had a great job as a crane operator, an apartment of her own and a healthy three-year-old son. Then she was laid off, and her family was forced to couch-surf for two years. Guest blogger Gina Yarwood tells us how Jenny got back on her feet, and shares how you can take action (in five minutes or less!) to help homeless families get the support they need. 

He Saved Up for Rent and a Deposit—So Why Was Thomas Stuck in a Shelter?

When Thomas was living in a homeless shelter in Tacoma, he saved up to get an apartment. He had first and last months' rent, a deposit, and enough money for three tenant screening fees each month. An error on his screening report got him rejected by landlords time after time, though, and he spent hundreds of dollars on tenant screening reports. Thomas was stuck in the shelter months longer than he needed to be. A proposed law making its way through the legislature solves this problem by creating portable screening reports -- find out what you can do to support this solution!

Educators Speak Up for Homeless Students

Education is a major focus of this legislative session, in part because policymakers have been directed by the state Supreme Court to invest billions more dollars in funding K-12 education. But lawmakers and advocates alike recognize that as long as family homelessness is a problem in our state, students and schools will suffer. In this video, educators explain how they've seen homelessness affect students, and how these experiences motivated them to join Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day.

One Night Count Results Galvanize Action

Each year, volunteers across the country fan out through their communities to count people who are sleeping outdoors. 3,117 homeless men, women and children were out in the cold in King County between 2 and 5 a.m. today. 

Real Change, a homeless empowerment project and newspaper based in Seattle, organizes a "Sounding of the Gong" event the morning after the count to bring attention to the problem of homelessness. Firesteel spoke with Real Change Founding Director Tim Harris about the count results, which reflected a 14 percent increase from 2013 in the number of people sleeping outdoors. We also interviewed Rachael Myers, Executive Director of the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, about advocacy efforts to end homelessness in Washington state. Join Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day on Jan. 28 in Olympia to meet your legislators and encourage them to support policies that will end homelessness. 

Policy Matters: Repeated Tenant Screening Fees Are Devastating for Low-Income Families

During a single housing search, the average prospective tenant spends more than $166 in screening fees. This can be a real challenge for low-income families. Guest blogger Emma Lee, a Family Advocate for YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish, shares a story about a client whose small monthly budget was devastated by these fees, and explains why she supports the Fair Tenant Screening Act. This common-sense legislation would create a portable, standardized report that a renter could share with multiple potential landlords, eliminating the burden of paying over and over for screenings.

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