Celebrating the Legislative Session Together

The 2019 legislative session gave us many reasons to celebrate. From full funding for the Anchor Community Initiative to ending juvenile detention for non-criminal offenses, the legislature delivered victory after victory for youth and young adults. Our hearts are full, so we decided to spread the cheer with a celebration for the elected officials and youth advocates that made it all possible.

You can watch the full livestream of the celebration here, or enjoy the highlights:

First Lady Trudi Inslee inspired everyone to keep up the good work with a rousing speech. We are truly grateful to have a steadfast advocate in Mrs. Inslee and appreciate all the work she does to keep young people front and center.

“Washington is in a unique position to make a meaningful impact on ending youth and young adult homelessness thanks to programs like the Anchor Community Initiative.”

 

Sarah Spier, from our Spokane Anchor Community, highlighted how important it is for different systems of care to work together.

“The Anchor Community Initiative has helped us come together and use our resources intentionally to create a community where no young person has to live without stable housing.”

 

Roel Williams, Peer Advisor for A Way Home Washington, reiterated the importance of organizations like The Mockingbird Society and A Way Home Washington to give young people the support they need to thrive.

“The Mockingbird Society’s continued push to advocate for bills that positively impact young people and the visionary Anchor Community Initiative are putting us on the path to end youth homelessness.”

 

And finally, we presented awards to key partners who have been instrumental in advocating for youth and young adults.

Representative Chopp, for 20 years of service as Speaker
The Mockingbird Society, for leadership on SB 5290
Laurie Lippold, for her continued advocacy and leadership

 

We can’t end this post without expressing our deep gratitude to each and every one of our supporters. You keep the movement going, and every step we take towards ending youth and young adult homelessness is only possible because of your commitment. Thank you for everything you do!

From all our staff, thank you! Images courtesy of Michael B. Maine.

Session Highlights: Funding and Expanding Services for Youth and Young Adults

The 2019 legislative session included many topics that directly impact our vision of preventing and ending youth and young adult homelessness. With so many important issues at stake, the A Way Home Washington team was a constant presence at our state capitol. We brought in our Anchor Community teams for an Advocacy Day and even spent a snow day in Olympia.

Our Executive Director, Jim, and Advocacy Coordinator, Matt

 

We were humbled to see an outpouring of support for young people from partner organizations and legislators, and we are proud of the young people who bravely advocated for their peers. Here’s what we accomplished together in the 2019 legislative session:

  • The Office of Homeless Youth (OHY) was funded at the $8.5 million level. This includes $4 million for the Anchor Community Initiative, our flagship project, and $1.25 million for the Arlington Drive Youth Campus. Anchor Community Initiative funds will be split evenly between Pierce County, Spokane, Yakima and Walla Walla for these communities to invest in services for youth and young adults.
  • The Washington Youth and Families Fund and the Homeless Student Stability Program maintained their base funding of $4 million each. The Homeless Student Stability Program received an additional $157,000. 
  • The Senate passed SB 5290, eliminating juvenile detention for non-criminal offenses, such as truancy and running away. Youth are less likely to come forward and request the services they need when they fear the possibility of detention. Now, youth will be able to request these services without fear.
  • The House passed HB 1657, expanding access to HOPE Center beds and requiring at least two youth representatives on the Office of Homeless Youth Advocacy Committee. This provides youth experiencing homelessness additional service options and fosters a youth-centered approach to our work.

     

    Governor Inslee signs HB 1657

     

    These legislative victories position our state closer to preventing and ending youth and young adult homelessness. We are deeply thankful to every person who elevated the issue during the legislative session, especially to all the advocates who showed up at the capitol and all the legislators who did right by our young people. We also want to give a special thank you to  Advocacy Coordinator for the 2019 legislative session, Matt Kanter, who brought innovation and passion to our advocacy efforts. What were your favorite moments from the 2019 legislative session?