United Way of King County

United Way of King County

 HEADLINES
 State
 Revenues down, budget held hostage and bills passed
 New Kindergarten transition process for Washington’s kids
 TANF grant maximum reduced
 Local
 Mental health funding in King County yields results
 Section 8 Waiting List to open
 Two new indexes shed light on local standards of living
 Local honorees
 Bridge to Basics connects King County residents to public benefits
 Federal
 Federal government exceeds its debt limit
 Congressional advocacy letter sent


State

Revenues down, budget held hostage and bills passed
With the 30-day special session scheduled to end May 25th and negotiations between the House and Senate moving forward, United Way will continue to focus its advocacy efforts on early learning and key safety net programs such as Disability Lifeline, which the House significantly reformed. To learn more about these changes and other recent bills signed into law, visit our blog.

New Kindergarten transition process for Washington’s kids
On May 12, Governor Gregoire signed the WaKIDS bill, which enacts a Kindergarten transition process in currently funded Full-Day Kindergartens. The assessment process supports cooperation between teachers and parents in order to give young children the best possible advantages in entering school. To learn more, click here.

TANF grant maximum reduced
Effective May 1, the Department of Social and Health Services reduced the maximum Temporary Assistance to Needy Families cash grant from $941 per month to $726 per month for families of six or more members. Notifications were sent to TANF recipients on April 17.  Read about the cash assistance need and payment standards here.

Local

Mental health funding in King County yields results
With May being Mental Health Month, members of the King County Council applauded the results of the third annual report on the effectiveness of services supported by the Mental Illness and Drug Dependency (MIDD) sales tax.  Generating $41 million in 2010, the MIDD funds mental health and chemical dependency programs, as well as services tailored to the criminal justice system. These efforts are critical, as state funding reductions for mental health services will soon be in effect. Read our guest blog about anticipated state cuts to vital mental health and chemical dependency programs.

Section 8 Waiting List to open
For the first time since 2007, The King County Housing Authority is accepting applications for its Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) Rental Assistance Program. The waiting list will be open for two weeks beginning May 25 and ending on June 7. Section 8 vouchers allow eligible low income people to qualify for a federal rental subsidy which is used in the private market. The King County Housing Authority’s Section 8 program provides rental assistance to more than 25,000 people residing in King County outside of the cities of Seattle and Renton.  Click for more information on where and how to apply.

Bridge to Basics connects King County residents to public benefits
Despite state and federal reductions in human services, United Way of King County is helping to increase utilization of public benefits like the Basic Food Program (Food Stamps) through a program called, Bridge to Basics.  This year more than 60 community members will be trained as volunteers and 9,000 families will be connected to public benefits over the next two years. Guest blogger, Erin Milliren’s shares her experiences as an AmeriCorps Bridge to Basic outreach worker.

Two new indexes shed light on local standards of living
The cost of living for elders in Washington State discussed in the Elder Economic Security Standard Index report, shows some elders are struggling to meet their basic needs. Additionally, CityClub recently released the first Civic Health Index, which measures community strength in several key areas including: volunteering and philanthropy, two areas that will increasingly be called upon as public funding for health and human services are reduced.

Local honorees
Remy Trupin, Executive Director of the Washington State Budget and Policy Center, will be honored at the Children’s Alliance Voices for Children Awards Luncheon in June for his work toward making the state’s revenue system more equitable while demonstrating the impact of harmful cuts on children and families.  Erica Hallock, CEO of United Ways of Washington, was also a nominee.   United Way Worldwide recently recognized Microsoft with two Summit awards for the company’s generosity and commitment to education. Learn more about Microsoft’s support.

Federal

Federal government exceeds its debt limit
The US government has officially exceeded its debt limit but will still be able to cover its obligations until August 2. Using the debt limit as a bargaining chip in discussions about enacting budget reduction measures is an appealing strategy to those who want to shrink the size of the federal government. However, the funding cuts under discussion could take a huge toll on discretionary human service programs and entitlements such as Medicaid and SNAP that serve people of low income.

Congressional advocacy letter sent
United Way of King County appealed to Congressional members to support a $2.4 billion funding level for the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants program in fiscal year 2012.  Mc-Kinney Vento funds play a critical role in local efforts to end homelessness. This year, Seattle-King County received $22.48 million in homeless assistance grants, which support the services and operation of: 818 units of transitional housing for homeless families, youth, and single adults; 849 units of permanent housing for homeless people with disabilities, and two Safe Haven facilities for persons with severe and persistent mental illness. Read the letter.