We regret to let folks know that the Nov. 17 Rent Smart workshop scheduled for the Seattle Public Library Southwest branch is cancelled. We will reschedule soon!
Solid Ground’s print newsletter highlights lots of great partnership and program activities. Sign up here to receive the entire newsletter by snail mail!
PARTNER SPOTLIGHT: The CoHo Team of Windermere Agents
Not your average real estate agents, The CoHo Team of Windermere Agents has a unique vision: They believe that home – a place of shelter, a vibrant neighborhood and community, a sense of safety and belonging – should be obtainable by all. To help make this a reality in our community, they contribute both significant funds and hands-on service hours to nonprofits like Solid Ground that are involved in housing and community development.
“We have been proud to support Solid Ground for over 12 years as donors and volunteers,” says Team member Tonya Hennen. “We love their local, grassroots approach and broad spectrum of services, particularly their work in developing housing. We appreciate how they leverage many partnerships to the support of their clients. Few organizations are ambitious enough to claim the mission of the eradication of poverty through dismantling institutions of racism and oppressions. They really walk their talk. You go, Solid Ground!”
Thank you, CoHo Team, for your committed partnership!
For more info on partnering with Solid Ground, please contact us at 206.694.6803 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
PROGRAM NEWS: From the Ground Up
From transitional to permanent supportive family housing
For families living on low incomes that include an adult living with disabilities, affordable housing can be nearly impossible to find, let alone keep. Many families on fixed incomes essentially live from crisis to crisis. King County’s homeless services system identified the need to create more capacity to provide long-term housing for families with disabilities who are experiencing homelessness.
Solid Ground’s Sand Point Family Housing is among the initial group of five area transitional housing providers to convert to permanent supportive family housing. Changes coming to the program include round-the-clock staffing to help residents overcome a more complex set of challenges, and support for families in long-term stable housing. Increasing partnerships will bring more support services onto campus.
Case workers and housing advocates are working with current tenants – all of whose leases will expire before the program conversion – to secure long-term housing. But because of the changing program model, few if any will be eligible to remain at Sand Point Family Housing.
Cooking on all burners
Our Cooking Matters nutrition educators completed 13 class series in the third quarter! The classes, which focus on preparing healthy, culturally appropriate meals on a budget, were hosted by a variety of community organizations – including five at Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) locations and two in Toppenish, WA through our satellite partner, the Quinault Indian Nation.
Our own Seattle Community Farm recently cohosted a six-week series for teens affiliated with the Refugee Women’s Alliance (ReWA). Other new satellite partners include Verdant Wellness Center in Lynnwood, which hosted their first Spanish Cooking Matters class in October, and Hopelink, a fellow King County Community Action Agency, which will host classes at their five Eastside locations starting in early 2016.
Our Financial Fitness Boot Camp was selected by The Financial Clinic of New York City to partner on the launch of a new financial skills coaching platform, recognizing Solid Ground’s leadership in financial empowerment education and services.
SPECIAL RECOGNITION: Brilliance… Kindness… & Persistence…
- Thanks to Premera Blue Cross for sponsoring Your Passport to the World of Volunteering, featuring our RSVP (Retired & Senior Volunteer Program) and 23 of their site partners promoting King County volunteer opportunities.
- The Master Builders Association selected Sand Point Family Housing for their Painting a Better Tomorrow project. As we go to press, 150 Master Builders volunteers are painting the rooms and common areas of these two historic naval buildings to freshen up the apartments.
- Sometimes, food justice starts with access to seeds to grow your own food. Lettuce Link offers a tip of the Swiss chard hat to seed donors Burpee, Good Seed Company, Molbak’s Garden + Home, Neighbor Sally’s Nursery, Park Seed, PCC Natural Markets (Headquarters & U District), Seattle Seed Company and Sky Nursery.
- And a muddy salute to all of the organizations who brought volunteers to Lettuce Link’s Seattle Community Farm and Marra Farm Giving Garden. Your hard work helped people who need it get healthy, nutritious food: Cascadia Montessori, CDK Digital Marketing, Community Court, Concord International School Teachers, Ethan Stowell Restaurants, Expedia, Friends of Youth, International Community School, Overlake School, Pepperdine University Alum, Plymouth Healing Communities, Seattle Works, Starbucks, The World Is Fun, T-Mobile and United Way.
TAKE ACTION: Get Involved!
- What will your legacy be? Find out how you can continue to fight for social justice long after you’re gone. For information on how to include Solid Ground in your will or estate plans, please contact Leah Lee at email@example.com or 206.694.6852.
- For Volunteer Opportunities at Solid Ground, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 206.694.6825.
While we are unable to collect demographic information on all program participants, the data we have shows that over the past year, more than 139 vets have accessed our Tenant Services program for help understanding their responsibilities and rights as tenants. Among the topics most discussed were info on rights and responsibilities, housing search and barriers, repairs, evictions, deposits and Fair Housing issues.
Two dozen vets have worked with our Mortgage Counselors to better understand and make informed choices about foreclosures; 23 more accessed reverse mortgage counseling. Seven vets have worked one-on-one with our Financial Fitness Boot Camp Coach.
Seattle/King County is part of a national movement to house all homeless veterans by Dec 31, 2015. According to All Home, our community has housed 717 veterans, with only 37 chronically homeless vets remaining to be housed.
Solid Ground’s Sand Point Housing Campus is currently home to 14 veterans in transitional and permanent housing. The Veterans Program at St. Vincent DePaul, American Legion Auxiliary #227 and other area groups provide support, mentorship and community for our veteran residents.
In addition, we provided financial support to stabilize housing to 105 veteran-led families living on low or very low incomes.
Solid Ground also connects vets to volunteer service opportunities through RSVP (Retired & Senior Volunteer Program) of King County. This year, RSVP is recognizing 15 local members who are veterans. The Corporation for National & Community Service designed a beautiful pin, which we will send to each of them along with a letter of gratitude for their service. It states:
The 15 veterans currently serving as RSVP volunteers have provided 3,802 hours of service over the last year, supporting food banks, adult day programs, tutoring and early childhood education programs and other nonprofits.
“This Veteran’s Day, November 11th, the Corporation for National & Community Service is honored to recognize you for serving our country through Senior Corps’ RSVP (Retired & Senior Volunteer Program) of King County. As a veteran you have played a vital role in protecting our freedom and way of life and for that we are grateful.”
Imagine you’re a single mom with a permanent physical disability – waiting for federal disability benefits to be approved – and are told you’ve reached your cash assistance lifetime limit. Or maybe you’re struggling to make ends meet, using food assistance, only to be told you were “overpaid” and have to pay back benefits from the last six months. Where can you turn?
Solid Ground’s team of Benefits Attorneys (l to r: Stephanie Earhart, Katie Scott and Sara Robbins) just might be able to help. Serving both individuals and families, our attorneys primarily represent people having difficulties accessing or maintaining state benefits from the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS).
But it doesn’t stop there: Beyond helping people access benefits, our attorneys work with DSHS to make the system more equitable for thousands of people across our region.
From individual to systemic advocacy
Lead Benefits Attorney Stephanie Earhart explains, “We’re in DSHS Region 2, covering five counties from King all the way to the Canadian border. We meet quarterly with the Regional DSHS Administrator to tell them what we’re seeing on the ground. And if we make complaints or say we need systems change, they listen.”
One type of case our attorneys deal with is families applying for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash assistance. In Washington state, there’s a 60-month lifetime TANF limit and very few ways to qualify for an extension. These include families experiencing domestic violence, adults living with severe and chronic disabilities, and people taking care of a child or adult living with a disability.
Yet Stephanie and her team noticed that these extensions were often denied for people who were clearly eligible. “We were seeing two problems: people eligible for the family violence extension weren’t getting it, and people eligible for the disability extension weren’t getting it.”
Through outreach events, trainings and lectures, Stephanie publicized the time limit extension availability and our willingness to appeal denials: “If your family has zero income, somebody disabled in the household, or somebody dealing with family violence, they should still be on TANF. Period.” After several favorable decisions overturning TANF extension denials, Stephanie and her team set their sights on change at the policy level.
Collaborating for success
Teaming up with other advocates from the Northwest Justice Project, they facilitated a meeting in Olympia with DSHS administrators and the Attorney General’s office. “We have really good working relationships with them, and they know that we don’t come to them lightly,” says Stephanie. “So this year, when we advocated for DSHS to rewrite its policy manual around the family violence time limit extension, they took our concerns seriously and improved the way they screen clients for this exception and staff training on the issue.”
Also, our attorneys convinced DSHS to clarify how disabilities cases should be handled. As a result of their recommendations, DSHS changed the law to include a new disability time limit extension. “They actually agreed to do it, which was huge! I nearly fell out of my seat when I found out,” Stephanie recalls. So now, if a family member meets the eligibility criteria for ABD (Aged, Blind or Disabled), they can get a TANF extension.
“The work we’re doing is very real,” says Stephanie. “I’ve learned so much from the people we serve. Any of us could end up in a hard situation at some point, and it means everything to me that I can do this work now.”
The same end goals
Currently, our attorneys are working to ensure that state food assistance recipients aren’t saddled with unpayable debt when DSHS miscalculates their benefits. According to federal law, recipients are liable for any overpayment of food assistance even if the overpayment was caused exclusively by DSHS’s mistakes. For families living on the edge of poverty, repaying this debt is usually impossible.
Our attorneys represent people facing this situation in hearings and negotiations with the Office of Financial Recovery to show financial hardship and get the entire overpayment waived or put on a payment plan. While helpful on a case-by-case basis, this strategy doesn’t solve the systemic problem: Many people who qualify for a hardship waiver don’t even know about our services or that such a waiver exists.
So now, Stephanie and a Northwest Justice Project attorney are collaborating with the Attorney General’s office, the Office of Financial Recovery and DSHS to rewrite the policy manual regarding overpayments and hardship waivers. “The hope is that DSHS will analyze hardship when they assess overpayments, rather than waiting for clients to raise the issue, which is not something the current regulations require them to do,” she says.
“That’s why our working relationship with DSHS is really important; we can go a lot farther by collaborating. When you sit down at a table, especially with the policy makers, you realize they often want the same things that we do for our clients.”
For more info on Family Assistance, contact 206.694.6742 or email@example.com.
‘Changing systems, changing lives’ is the lead article from Solid Ground’s Fall 2015 print newsletter. Sign up here to receive the entire newsletter by snail mail!
This post contributed by our staff at Cooking Matters originally appeared on their blog.
It’s October and you know what that means…PUMPKIN OVERLOAD!
When we enter our grocery store, we know it is “pumpkin season” as we are welcomed by the different pumpkins used as decorations in the front of the store. Our taste buds start to send signals to our brain telling us that we must devour a homemade pumpkin pie by the end of this season.
However, our busy schedules say otherwise and discourage us from taking part of the Pumpkin trend this month. We conclude that we won’t have time to make this delicious pumpkin recipe, since we barely have to time to prepare our regular meals.
Do not be discouraged any longer! I have developed a pumpkin recipe that takes no longer than 5 minutes! Yes, you read right…5 minutes!
Let us not delay this recipe any longer. You will find below the ingredients and steps below to create a PUMPKIN SMOOTHIE that you can make at breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Pumpkin Smoothie Recipe
Prep time 5 mins | Total time 5 mins
- ⅓ cup pumpkin puree
- 1 medium banana (frozen)
- 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed
- 1 Tbsp honey
- ¼ tsp pumpkin pie spice
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- 1 cup low-fat milk and and add a 1 tsps. of vanilla extract or unsweetened vanilla soy milk
- Mix everything into a blender.
- Blend until smooth.
*You may need to stop to stir once or twice. If the smoothie appears or tastes too thick, don’t be afraid to add a touch more soy milk or even a little water.