Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Homelessness Advocacy Action Alert

Dear King County Democrat:

As the Seattle-King County Coalition on Homelessness ably says below, General Assistance-Unemployable (GA-U), currently budgeted at $167.6 million, is on the chopping block. This funds the pitiful $339 a month that the state provides for people with mental, physical and emotional disabilities who are not yet eligible for Social Security (SSI often takes 2 - 3 years). Since many transitional housing programs charge 30% of their government checks, this also threatens most of the transitional housing beds in King County.

The King County Democrats' platform under Human Services says we support affordable housing and GA-U:

4. We must work actively to end homelessness and ensure that all people have access to safe and affordable housing.
5. State public assistance for people with disabilities (General Assistance-Unemployable or GA-U) must be more than doubled. The current level of $339 a month has not been increased for more than 15 years — it offends human dignity.

Please remind each of your King County legislators (as well as the Governor) that this is the platform they ran on and that we elected them to support.

The Priorities of Government ranking for all Human Services programs is here:


As you will see, GA-U is ranked "low" at 84th after the 65 "high-priority" items tied for 1st:

CategoryRankAgency NameActivity TitleStrategyCurrent/New ActivityStateTotal
Low84Dept of Social and Health ServicesGeneral Assistance - Interim SSI (GA-U/X) (77%)Provide emergency cash, food, and shelter assistanceCurrent Activity$167,583,000$169,858,000

How did it get ranked "low" and who decided the priorities? See the Framework document for Children & Vulnerable Adults:


Here are the criteria they used:

"The team used the following criteria and considered what was known about the activity’s performance."

  • Imminent safety: immediate health and safety needs
  • Vulnerability: those clients least able to care for themselves
  • Least restrictive: placement options or services which support the needs of the client
  • Self-sufficiency: provides those we serve with the capacity to make it on their own
  • Cost effective: expenditures in these activities provide same or better results now or in the future
  • Core responsibility of the state: the primary activities a state should undertake
  • Evidence-based/ promising outcomes
  • Feasibility/timeliness
  • Cost shifts: adjustments that may save in one area but cost in another
  • Performance: evidence that program achieves results

General Assistance-Unemployable is the only income many of these folks have. They are often disabled by mental illness and/or addiction. GA-U often provides access to shelter, access to case management, access to medical coupons, etc. All of these folks are disabled. Many are very ill and living at survival level. They are about as vulnerable as you can get. Take a look at the list and see if you don't agree that the low-priority ranking is in error.

Thank you for letting our governor and our legislators know what King County Democrats stand for.

Sarajane Siegfriedt

King County Democrats Legislative Action Committee co-chair

-------------- Forwarded Message: --------------
Date: Mon, 8 Dec 2008 16:47:16 -0800
From: skcch@homelessinfo.org

Dear SKCCH Members and Friends:

ACTION ALERT: GAU (General Assistance ~ Unemployable) is a Washington state program which supports low income people who are too disabled to work for at least the next three months. This program is vitally important for many people who are homeless, at high risk of becoming homeless, or are stabilizing in housing. GAU recipients receive some medical coverage, and $339 a month to live on. This is barely enough to keep body and soul together.

The current word in Olympia is that the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) is considering a TOTAL ELIMINATION of the GAU program on January 1st. Advocates believe that the legislature must act before DSHS can cut the program. Even if this is so, GAU is most definitely at risk when legislature starts in early January. Expect to be fighting for GAU every minute of this session. Here are TWO important ways providers and advocates can take action THIS WEEK:

  1. Call or e-mail Governor Gregoire TODAY and ask her to:

    • preserve GAU
    • keep $200 million in the Housing Trust Fund, and
    • invest in transitional and low-income housing, emergency shelter and homelessness prevention programs.

    Remember to thank the Governor for her past support of affordable housing and vital human services, and of ending homelessness.

    You can contact Governor Gregoire by phone at (360) 902-4111 or through her website: http://ent.groundspring.org/EmailNow/pub.php?module=URLTracker&cmd=track&j=250206326&u=2657210

    It is very important to call or email the Governor TODAY regarding these budget items. Governor Gregoire will release her 2009-2011 biennial budget on or around December 15. The State is faced with a $5-$6 billion deficit. Human services and affordable housing are often put on the chopping block in the face of a deficit budget. The State must not reduce or eliminate funding for the Housing Trust Fund, GAU, ESAP, THOR, and homelessness prevention! Such cuts would make it impossible to meet the 2005 State Legislature's mandate to reduce homelessness 50% by 2015.

    Do not balance the state budget on the backs of the most vulnerable Washingtonians!

  2. Help put real people's faces and stories in front of legislators, staffers, and the public as they weigh the cost of GAU -- and the terrible costs of cutting it.
    • Between NOW and DECEMBER 20, Robin Zukoski from Columbia Legal Services is looking for GAU recipients who are willing to tell their stories on videotape.
    • Robin is putting together a video to put real people's faces and stories behind the $339 a month benefits. The video, or clips from it, can be used to educate legislators and the public about how this modest benefit helps people. If you work with people (veterans, women, people living on the streets or in emergency or transitional programs) who receive GAU, and know someone who is willing to speak from experience, please contact Robin Zukoski at: robin.zukoski@columbialegal.org or 360-943-6260 ext 202
    • Robin can meet people to interview them on film at an agency or other public setting, or, if necessary, go to someone's home. She will ask each person a few questions and create several 2-3 minute clips for a 15-20 minute video.

Angie Burnside
SKCCH Advocacy Committee Co-Chair
Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness

The Compass Center
77 S. Washington Street
Seattle, WA 98104

More Information

'''The Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness''' (SKCCH) works collaboratively to ensure the safety and survival of people who are homeless and to end the crisis of homelessness in our region.

Please help SKCCH fulfill our mission by making a secure, tax-deductible CONTRIBUTION on line at http://ent.groundspring.org/EmailNow/pub.php?module=URLTracker&cmd=track&j=250206326&u=2657211

Web: http://ent.groundspring.org/EmailNow/pub.php?module=URLTracker&cmd=track&j=250206326&u=2657212

E-mail: skcch@homelessinfo.org

Mailing Address:

77 South Washington St.
Seattle, Washington 98104


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