February 2015 minutes

P.O. Box 662, Bellevue, WA 98009-0662 February 10, 2015
The meeting was held in Bristol Hall of St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church beginning at 12:00 noon.

WELCOME: The meeting was called to order and conducted by EISCC President Diane Richards.
OPENING REFLECTION: Sandy Lewis provided the opening prayer.
SELF-INTRODUCTIONS were made by 32 representatives and guests.
MINUTES of the January 13, 2015, meeting were approved as submitted.
TREASURER’S REPORT: The Treasurer was not present at the meeting.  Diane and Warren indicated that the annual dues request letter would be sent shortly and urged representatives to see that their organizations paid promptly. Copies of the letter were also distributed at the meeting.
REFRESHMENT COORDINATOR: Many thanks to Jerry Hatfield, Helen Christian, Aaron Meyer, Jean Harris, and JC Mitchell for providing the day’s refreshments.

Homeless Encampment Letter: The draft letter which had been distributed for our last meeting was discussed.  Recognizing that not all of our religious communities are churches, Rabbi Meyer suggested modifying the language in the first bullet point in the list of specific requests at the very end of the letter to substitute some language such as ‘faith community’ for the word ‘church.’  Senate Bill 5900 which addresses such encampments would prohibit restrictions on the number of encampment hosts, so it was suggested that we consider not restricting the number of hosts.  It was also pointed out that other Eastside cities would likely look to Bellevue as an example as they craft ordinances of their own on this matter.

Karen Studders noted that Renton had zero children sleeping outside during the recent one night count.  This is a result of cooperation betwen Renton, REACH Center of Hope, and local congregations.  She wondered what a similar effort in Bellevue might accomplish.

Warren Marquardson moved that we accept the letter in principle and have the board incorporate the proposed changes.  The motion was seconded and approved by the body.

Congregations for Kids: Nancy Jacobs had no report but will have more information at next month’s meeting.
Backpack Meals: Jan Starr reported that they were preparing about 120 bags a week.  She offered thanks on behalf of their organization to all of the congregations and individuals who have supported their work.  She also introduced Janet Farness who has recently joined their board.  Funds for food are always welcome.  Donations can be made through their website at www.backpackmeals.org.
Legislative Coordinator:  Jean Harris reported that several advocacy days are coming up soon. The Washington Low-Income Housing Alliance will have its advocacy day in Olympia on Tuesday, February 17.  More information can be found at wliha.org.  The Faith Action Network (FAN) will hold its advocacy day on Thursday, February 19.  More information on their event can be found at fanwa.org.  You can also go to the FAN website to track the progress of bills through the legislature.

Temple De Hirsch Sinai:  Rabbi Aaron Meyer spoke about current efforts at the Temple.  They have recently been focused on building their own internal organization, but they want very much to be more involved in EISCC.  They provide meals for Congregations for the Homeless and Tent City.  They have an urban garden which donates food to local food banks.  They recruit folks from the Temple to work on projects in the community – over 5000 sent thus far.  They have been actively working with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in the legislature to oppose what they believe to be misguided legislation against Sharia law in our state.  Rabbi Meyer can be reached at ameyer@tdhs-nw.org.

Attain Housing (formerly Kirkland Interfaith Transitional Housing – KITH):  Tami Gillman, Director of Development, reported that KITH merged in 2014 with Housing at the Crossroads.  As a result of that merger, they acquired 12 housing units in Bellevue.  The new, combined organization was renamed Attain Housing.  They now have 32 units of housing in Kirkland and Bellevue which can provide transitional and permanent housing.  They also have a voucher program which provides rent assistance.  Those wishing to tap into that program need to get a letter of referral from a local congregation.  That program is handled by Jennifer Barron.  She can be reached at 425-576-9531, ext. 104.

They provide a community supper on Tuesday evenings which also provide mentoring and child care.  They provide case management.  They have a holiday adopt-a-family program.  They expect that they will be building or purchasing new property this year.  They serve all of King County with their programs.  They are looking to increase their outreach to Eastside congregations, especially in Bellevue.  For more information, contact Tami at tamig@attainhousing.org or by phone at 206-619-6844.

PROGRAM: Human Services Needs Update and Trends in King County, the Eastside, and Bellevue
Alex O’Reilly of the City of Bellevue indicated that the City of Bellevue has three roles in human services – as planner, facilitator, and funder.  Bellevue provides approximately $3 million per year from its operating fund and some additional dollars from its capital budget.  These funds are usually spent in those areas which the city has determined are of greatest need.  To determine the needs, they conduct regular surveys which draw upon data from faith community interviews, service providers, phone/online surveys, consumers, community conversations, key informants, and a review of reports, websites, ACS, and Census.

The most recent update will guide the allocation recommendations for the 2015-2016 Human Services Fund/Community Development Block Grant.  Some of the key issues identified by the Human Services Commission include:

  • Although some progress has been made, there is still more demand for affordable, low-income, and work force housing than what is available.
  • The increase in diverse populations will require cost-efficient ways to provide clients with services without extensive duplication.
  • The growing older adult population will require additional support to continue ‘aging in place’ in Bellevue.
  • Although strides have been made in supporting children from birth through college both in and out of school, continuing support must remain or increase to meet the needs of Bellevue children, their parents, and caregivers.
  • Mental illness and substance abuse are growing issues for children, youth, and adults, with significant impact on families and the community as well.

Based on these findings, they have identified the following focus areas for 2015-2016:

  • Housing with services for those moving from homelessness, including prevention programs that intervene early to stabilize people at risk of homelessness
  • Support for employment and those skills and services that promote a productive workforce
  • Services that allow older adults to remain secure in the community

The next cycle of study is set to begin shortly for the next biennium.

When Alex was asked what the most unexpected find from their studies was, she indicated that it was the growth in heroin use.  It appears that the legalization of marijuana in the state has diminished the attraction of illicit use that it used to have and kids are gravitating to heroin.  She was also surprised to see how many people – especially the elderly – need health and dental services.

Applications for funding from the City can be found online.  For more information, contact Alex at aoreilly@bellevuewa.gov.

Allen Bolen of Camp Unity reported that they will be moving to St. Jude’s in Redmond at the end of the month.  February 28 would be a great day to give them a hand with their move.  They are currently offering GED classes – a service they hope to expand.  The camp is working hard to provide their own rents, but outside help is still appreciated.  They still welcome folks to come spend time with the camp residents.  For more information, visit their website at campunityeastside.com.

Karen Studders reminded us that the lottery for Section 8 Housing vouchers would close at 4 pm that afternoon.

Trish Rogers offered our thanks to Michael Ramos for his ideas that were very helpful in crafting our letter on homeless encampments.

Janet Farness promoted the Meaningful Movies on the Eastside program, which is co-sponsored by the Earthkeeping Team at Holy Cross Lutheran Church and the St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church Outreach Team. Movies are shown at 6:30 pm on the third Tuesday of each month at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church.  Suggested donation is $5 per person, but no one will be turned away.  Their film for February will be Food Stamped.  For more information, contact Janet at jkftahiti@comcast.net.

Anne St. Germain reported that the Friends Eastside Meeting also sponsors a Meaningful Movie Night with speakers.  Flyers were available.  The next film will be A Place at theTable on March 7, 2015.  The film will be sponsored by Hopelink.  Lauren Lang will be the guest speaker.  The Meeting is located at 4160 158th Ave SE in Bellevue.

Elizabeth Maupin reports that the Bellevue Comprehensive Plan Housing Element is currently under review.  It appears that it does not address affordable housing issues as forcefully as it might.  You can have your voice heard on the issue by attending one of the scheduled Open Houses on the document.  One session will be held on February 25, from 5 to 7 pm, at Bellevue City Hall, 450 110th Ave NE, Bellevue.  The second session will by heldFebruary 26, from 5 to 7 pm at Interlake High School, 16245 NE 24th St., Belleuve, WA.

You can also send in an e-mail to the Planning Commission to share your input.  The Housing Development Consortium has prepared a click-and-send template that you can use to send in your comments.  It can be found athttp://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/50287/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=13544.  If you would like to review the changes proposed by the Commission, go to http://www.ci.bellevue.wa.us/pdf/PCD/3_Housing_Policy_Table_1-28-15(1).pdf.  For the full text, go to http://www.ci.bellevue.wa.us/pdf/PCD/04_Housing_PR_Draft_v1_20150211.pdf.

CLOSING REFLECTION:  Elizabeth Maupin provided the closing prayer.

THE NEXT EISCC MEETING will take place on Tuesday, March 10, 12:00 – 1:30 p.m. 
PROGRAM: Veterans’ Issues
Dick Jacke, EISCC Secretary

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