During the 2019 legislative session, we were overjoyed that the Office of Homeless Youth (OHY) budget included $4 million for the Anchor Community Initiative. Over the past few months, organizations in the Anchor Communities submitted proposals to OHY requesting funding for services in the community. Here’s how these funds will make an impact in each community:
Pierce County will be able to expand their existing outreach team, creating a 24/7 emergency hotline, training staff in diversion and gaining access to coordinated entry. The community will also be able to establish a young adult shelter, which previously had no permanent location.
New outreach efforts put forth will be able to more efficiently identify young people experiencing homelessness in the public school system and behavioral health treatment programs and provide resources to quickly house them. Volunteers of America and the City of Spokane will add 10 new units of transitional housing for young adults, including units that provide medium to long-term rental assistance (usually 18 to 24 months) and support services to help young adults develop the independent living skills needed to secure and maintain permanent housing.
Previously, young people in Walla Walla had access to HOPE beds through Catholic Charities and young adult long-term housing through Blue Mountain Action Council (BMAC). Now BMAC will be able to add housing capacity for young adults and create an outreach team to better connect with young people.
New funding will allow Rod’s House to open a shelter and increase outreach coverage and drop-in services. Catholic Charities will be able to increase young adult housing and Yakima Neighborhood Health Services will increase LGBTQ+ support services.
We’re excited to see these funds building capacity in Anchor Communities as we continue our work to end youth and young adult homelessness!
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.
Sarah Spier, from our Spokane Anchor Community, highlighted how important it is for different systems of care to work together.
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.
And finally, we presented awards to key partners who have been instrumental in advocating for youth and young adults.
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!
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.
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 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.
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?