2013: Protect the Housing & Essential Needs Program (aka Disability Lifeline)

What Is It?

Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) provides rental assistance, help with utilities, and basic items like toothpaste for many people who find themselves on the edge of homelessness when suffering from an injury or illness.

A related program, Aged, Blind & Disabled (ABD), provides medical care and up to $197/month in cash assistance to low-income adults who are permanently disabled. 

What Is the Impact?

Many YWCA clients participate in these programs and have been greatly impacted by past cuts. These programs help the state’s extremely vulnerable keep their homes, but they are often the most vulnerable programs when it comes to budget cuts. 

UPDATE (7.1.13)

Great news! Thanks to your advocacy, these safety-net programs were protected in the final budget. HEN will continue to receive its current funding levels, and ABD will actually increase by $2 million to account for a change in the definition of disability. 

This positive outcome wasn’t a given. The Senate’s proposed budget would have cut HEN by more than half, and eliminated ABD. That would be disastrous for community members like Shelby, whose story is featured on our blog. It’s important that we keep advocating for programs that keep our vulnerable neighbors in safe, affordable homes. 

What Can You Do?

1) Contact your legislators and thank them for preserving the HEN and ABD programs. 

2) Register on Firesteel website (if you haven’t yet!). That way the website will be tailored to you and you will be matched to your legislators. We’ll then be able to send you messages specific to your voting district!

3) Spread the word about this important policy area on social media. The Washington Low Income Housing Alliance has great info on how to advocate on both Twitter and Facebook HERE.

4) Record a video comment on the importance of the social safety net. Click the “video comments” link below to get started, or read this step-by-step guide to uploading video comments to the Firesteel website

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Policy Matters: “I Can Take Care of the Basics”

YWCA Opportunity Place resident Shelby Powell was on track to attend medical school when she was diagnosed with schizophrenia. She couldn’t hold down a job, and became temporarily homeless. Shelby has faced many challenges since her diagnosis, but she’s thankful for the financial support she receives through the Aged, Blind & Disabled (ABD) program, which has helped her afford her rent and basics like bus fare and cleaning supplies. She testified at the state capitol, asking legislators to protect the social safety net that has kept her stably housed. Watch Shelby’s testimony and learn how you can advocate for lifeline programs like ABD.

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