EASTSIDE INTERFAITH SOCIAL CONCERNS COUNCIL MINUTES
P.O. BOX 662, Bellevue, WA 98009-0662, June 14, 2016
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 Tony Copes.
OPENING REFLECTION: Susan Morrisson provided the opening reflection, which was read by Dick Jacke.
SELF-INTRODUCTIONS were made by 28 representatives and guests.
MINUTES of the May 10, 2016, meeting were approved as submitted.
PRESIDENT’S REPORT: Tony urged us to reach out to the Muslim and LGBTQ communities, both of which were affected by the attack earlier in the week in Orlando, FL.
TREASURER’S REPORT: J.C. reported that our records indicate that we currently have $77,015.36 – most of which is dedicated to Backpack Meals and Congregations for Kids. The bank actually thinks that we have about $8,000 more. He is busy reconciling the accounts. He also reminds everyone that he has volunteered as our interim treasurer, and that he is looking forward to being relieved by another volunteer treasurer! If you or someone you know might be willing to serve in this role, please let him know.
REFRESHMENT COORDINATOR: Linda Hillesheim, Warren Marquardson, Betty Spohn, and Fran Wessling provided the food for today’s meeting.
Backpack Meals: Jan Starr and Farida Hakim provided an update on this project. They are partnering with Eastside Pathways for the year ahead. They have a retreat planned for the near future, at which the possibility of expanding their efforts will be discussed. The Bellevue Fire Fighters are also interested in partnering with the group. St. Margaret’s will be assisting with their summer program. The Bellevue Glassy Baby store will be contributing 10% of their sales to Backpack Meals for a limited time.
Congregations for Kids: Nancy Jacobs reported that they are gearing up for this year’s project. They expect to receive the list of kids to be served by the end of the month. They expect to provide backpacks and school supplies for as many as 1700 students in the next school year. Congregations who are not currently participating in this program are urged to consider participating. For more information on the program, visit their website at www.congregations4kids.org.
Legislative Coordinator: Jean Harris reported that a new initiative campaign, I-1515, has sprung up which would repeal protections for transgender persons in our state. Congregations and individuals are urged to oppose this measure. Another initiative campaign, I-1491, would limit the accessibility of firearms to the mentally ill on the initiative of family members or the police. Support is urged for this measure.
Emergency Services Fund/Hopelink: Brittany Holmes thanked congregations that contribute to the Emergency Services Fund for their support. She reported that the energy assistance grant that they have will be closed out at the end of June, but that Puget Sound Energy is still providing some support. Their End Summer Hunger project for students out of school for the summer will start up in July. For more information on Hopelink and the Emergency Services Fund visit their website at www.hope-link.org.
Eastside Homelessness Update: Karen Studders provided a wealth of statistics on the current levels of homelessness in the various communities on the Eastside. There are 220 homeless students in the Bellevue School District, 109 in the Issaquah School District, 296 in the Lake Washington School District, 203 in the Northshore School District, and 479 in the Renton School District. Approximately 11,000 people were experiencing homelessness in King County on a one night count in January. 97% of those are from Washington State and 87% from King County. 400 families were identified as living in places not meant for human habitation. When average rent increases by $100 per month, homelessness increases by 15% in urban areas and 39% in rural/suburban areas. The average rent increased by $115 per month in King County in the last year.
Karen went on to remind us that the Bellevue Day Center has been closed since March 15 and that there are few year-round beds available. Day centers are especially critical when homelessness is on the increase. There are currently two tent cities on the Eastside which can use our support. We can also lobby Bellevue, Redmond, and Sammamish governments to revise their encampment ordinances in ways which do not criminalize homelessness.
Emergency Feeding Program: Belynda Dunbar and Glenn Turner spoke about the services provided by the Emergency Feeding Program. They provided approximately 600,000 meals last year and expect that number to increase to 700,000 in the current year. They are partnering with the LDS church and working with Feed the Children. They are also partnering with local businesses to provide school supplies. They work with local school districts, providing paper, pencils, et cetera. If we work together, these problems can be addressed. For more information, visit their website at http://www.emergencyfeeding.org/.
PROGRAM: City of Bellevue Human Services Update.
Alex O’Reilly, a Human Services Planner from the City of Bellevue, provided us with information on their latest Human Services Needs Update. Their Executive Summary of that report was available to those who attended the meeting. The full report can be found at the City of Bellevue website at http://www.bellevuewa.gov/humanservices_needs_update.htm.
Their brochure, also distributed at the meeting, shows the two-year funding cycle used by the city. Last year, they were identifying needs, and this year they are working with local providers to solicit proposals to address the needs. Eastside cities have actually developed a joint application which can go to multiple Eastside cities as a request to multiple venues. Going forward, 7 commissioners will meet twice a month to review the 99 applications that they have received for Bellevue. They are getting a good education about what is currently happening in the human services realm in the area. The commissioners will send their recommendations to the Bellevue City Council for the 2017/2018 budgets.
The five key areas identified by their report are (not in priority order) affordable housing, mental health and substance abuse, diversity, employment, and support for older adults. The city sets aside approximately $3.3 million each year for human services and that is supplemented with about $.75 million received from the Federal Government – a sum based on population. Although this amount does not usually vary widely, it can bump up to address periods of exceptional need – this amounted to roughly $150,000 following the recent downturn. The sections of the report on neighborhood diversity are actually prepared by a demographer. Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, and Issaquah all have human services commissions. The cities work with service providers to develop cooperative efforts to address these areas of concerns.
Rather than try to cram the minutes with reams of data, you are urged to seek out the full report at the link given above.
Elizabeth Maupin alerted us to a variety of events and programs. This includes a Volunteer Administrators Network conference at Cascadia College on June 24, a Community Coffee for the REACH Center of Hope on June22, a City of Bellevue Forum on Affordable Housing Needs and Solutions on June 23, a meeting of the Interfaith Task Force on Homelessness on June 15, and a memorial, Remembering the Charleston Nine, on June 17. See the attachments for details. She later added that Tent City IV is currently at the south side of the High Point exit (Exit 20 from I-90) and would welcome help with meals. To sign up to provide meals, contact TC4meals@gmail.com.
C. Mitchell promoted a Father’s Day picnic for the differently abled to be sponsored by Open Gathering at noonon June 19.
Karen Studders, following up on her Eastside Homelessness update above, urged us to make use of the resources available to us to combat homelessness in our communities. To access the Washington Low Income Housing Association Tool Kit to Combat the Criminalization of Homelessness, go to http://wliha.org/toolkit. For further information on homelessness, go to http://wliha.org/resources/fact-sheets-and-publications. Papers by Seattle University law students on homelessness can be found at http://law.seattleu.edu/centers-and-institutes/korematsu-center/initiatives/homeless-rights-advocacy-project. Sign up for the weekly King County newsletter to find out what is happening in our community and attend an event at http://allhomekc.org/.
Kelly Fine from Temple B’nai Torah reported that they will soon be hosting Tent City 4 from July through late September (exact dates TBD). They are hoping that neighboring congregations will assist that effort by providing dinners to the residents this summer. You can find more information on providing dinner for Tent City here. The mealcalendar is here. Please contact Kelly Fine at email@example.com with questions or to sign up.
CLOSING REFLECTION: Gordon Wilson provided the closing reflection.
THE NEXT EISCC MEETING will take place on Tuesday, July 12 14, 2016, 12:00 – 1:30 pm
PROGRAM: Community Response to Panhandling
LOCATION: BRISTOL HALL, ST. MARGARET’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH, 4228 FACTORIA BOULEVARD SE, BELLEVUE (ACROSS FROM NEWPORT HIGH SCHOOL)
Dick Jacke, EISCC Secretary