Imagine Housing made an impressive showing at Housing and Homeless Advocacy Day in Olympia on Tuesday, February 17! With 17 members of our staff, board, donors, residents and volunteers, we were able to represent five districts and meet with 12 of our Legislators.
The day started bright and early as we gathered with the other 600 advocates to plan for the day and hear some motivating speeches about the importance and impact of advocating. After that, we broke up into groups for trainings including Advocacy 101, Social Media, Youth Homelessness and other topics of interest.
To make a statement and make our voices heard, all 600 of us gathered on the stairs of the Capital Building for a rally where we heard from the Eastside’s own Sen. Cyrus Habib and other legislators, all of whom thanked us and let us know how much our presence meant to the process.
Finally, we broke into Legislative Districts and went to meet with our representatives. We had a few important requests:
- Fund the Housing Trust Fund at $100 Million Dollars
- Maintain funding of Housing & Essential Needs (HEN)/ Aged, Blind & Disabled (ABD) and SSI Facilitation.
- Support the Medicaid Supportive Housing Services Benefit which would allow some housing providers to bill Medicaid for supportive services provided to eligible residents.
- Pass the Fair Tenant Screening Act to address the high costs of unnecessary duplicate tenant screening reports, and give people more opportunities to afford a place to call home.
- Pass the Truth in Evictions Reporting Act, ensuring that evictions are reported only when a tenant was proven guilty.
- Pass legislation to prevent landlords from denying housing to all tenants relying on a lawful housing subsidy or lawful supports to help pay rent.
Those are a lot of talking points, however, with at least 5 and as many as 15 people speaking with each legislator, each person was able to take on one or two points and share why it is important to them. We heard some great stories from residents who were able to make positive changes because of access to affordable housing.
It’s not too late to make your voice heard. You can email your legislators and let them know why these issues are important to you. One of the messages we heard from our representatives when we asked them how we could help was – tell people to contact us!
“We need to hear from the business community, from those in the faith based community, from those who support non-profits and those who have benefited from your work! The more we hear from our constituents, the better job we can do convincing our colleagues how important these issues are!”
Make sure you tell your representatives the many ways you are involved and support affordable housing. Details on the talking points can be found online at Washington Low Income Housing Alliance website.
Interested in joining us? Think about joining us for the 2016 Homeless and Housing Advocacy Day! This is one time when a huge crowd makes a big difference!
~Jeni Craswell, Director of Philanthropy