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May 2013

Data drives policy, programs and investment

Dannette R. Smith


I had the honor of giving a presentation last month on a subject that is near and dear to my heart: data. I spoke before an audience of 200 like-minded people: attendees of the annual spring conference of the National Human Services Data Consortium held this year in Seattle. They were human services professionals from around the country many of whom work with the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) and the data requirements mandated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). 


After a brief overview of Seattle and background on City government - including facts and figures about our demographics and populations trends - I described the development of the Seattle Human Services Department's Strategic Plan and how it led to a new investment plan for homeless services, "Communities Supporting Safe & Stable Housing." I talked about our participation in the regional effort to prevent and end homelessness through the Committee to End Homelessness and the Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness, and then drilled down to the data that led us to shift the investment paradigm. In particular, I highlighted how changing demographics and the continued impact of the recent recession prompted us to develop a long-term strategy for investments to prevent and end homelessness. 


Moving forward we need to work more closely with the larger local and state systems including the state Department of Social and Health Services, the Department of Corrections, and the Department of Education; look at new and innovative housing models; engage and inform our elected officials at all levels of government; and most of all, continue to use data to inform our practices and future investment.

Dannette R. Smith
Director, Seattle Human Services Department
Southeast Seattle Senior Center caters to active older adults

May is Older Americans Month and in this edition of Life Lines, we highlight the importance of senior centers in Seattle and King County.

Seniors bingoBeginning at 8:30 in the morning until 4:00 in the afternoon, the Southeast Seattle Senior Center, located in the heart of Seattle's Rainier Valley, hums with activities and neighborly fellowship.

Twenty years ago, the center, like most senior centers, was mostly a place to meet for coffee and play board games. The busy-ness of Southeast attests to how senior centers have changed to meet the needs of increasingly active older adults.

On a recent Wednesday afternoon, the weekly bingo game at Southeast is in full swing in the first-floor Social Hall, which doubles as a lunch room on four days a week. In the lobby near the front entrance, friends gather informally to chat and share stories. On the recently remodeled second floor there's an arts and crafts room where a group of women are making a quilt, a Wellness Room, a weaving room, reading library and a Computer Lab, where seniors are taking computer classes as part of the Mayor's Office for Senior Citizens' Senior Training Seniors computer training program. Members can also take fitness and exercise classes, get their blood pressure checked, receive massage therapy, take a defensive driving course and much more.

The center has become a community hub and gathering place for otherwise isolated seniors. "Some people come to the center at 8:30 and stay all day," says center Executive Director Lynda Greene. "Many seniors live alone and this may be their only connection with other human beings and the only time they leave their homes." The center and its programs keep them active, engaged and socially connected.

The center also brings in speakers for presentations about health care, long-term care, personal finances, property taxes, health insurance, and other topics of concern to seniors. Greene is a big believer in self-empowerment. "I want seniors to know as much information as they can on how to manage their lives," she says.

More than 40 volunteers help supplement the work of the center's four staff who serve 750-plus members (average age 76), 30 percent of whom come to the center at least once a week. The City of Seattle provides $95,000 a year out of a $393,000 annual operating budget. New funding from the City in 2013, added by the Seattle City Council, pays for a much needed part-time social worker. Southeast is one of nine centers supported by the City, through the Human Services Department's Aging & Disability Services (ADS) division.

Moving forward, Greene says, the challenge is to include programming for baby boomers while at the same time having enough meaningful activities and programming for older seniors.

For more information on the Southeast Seattle Senior Center, please visit the center's Web site. For more information about senior centers in Seattle, please see this Web page

Child Care Assistance Program in the news

Mayor at Tiny Tots day careOn April 11th, Mayor Mike McGinn held a press conference on the Seattle Human Services Department's Child Care Assistance Program. Slots are still available for program subsidies for qualifying low- and moderate-income families.


For details, please visit our Web site or call 206-386-1050. You can also view this video of the press conference as carried on the Seattle Channel.

HSD summer meals staff to learn best practices at national conference

Summer lunchSeattle is among 21 U.S. cities selected by the National League of Cities (NLC) to participate in one of two "leadership academies" this spring that will help leverage federal funding to reduce childhood hunger. The Seattle Human Services Department teamed with community partners United Way of king County and Within Reach on applying for this opportunity. The leadership academies are part of the Cities Combating Hunger through Afterschool and Summer Meal Programs (CHAMPS) initiative. NLC and the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) have partnered to support this initiative with a generous grant from the Walmart Foundation. The academies will provide city officials with the knowledge and skills needed to ensure that their communities are taking full advantage of food programs. Cities will also learn about promising approaches to increasing public participation in these programs and receive guidance from nutrition program experts.

Forum on health care reform on May 10

What does national and state health care reform mean for you? Come to a special forum on health care reform on Friday, May 10, 2013, 10:45 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., at the SeaTac Community Center (13735 24th Ave S, SeaTac) to learn how health care reform under the Affordable Care Act will affect seniors, adults with disabilities, and low-income individuals in King County. 


Washington state is planning to test a new system that integrates mental health, medical, substance abuse, and long-term care services for residents who receive Medicare and Medicaid. King County is considering how it will participate in this financial alignment demonstration project. At the forum, University of Washington School of Public Health lecturer Aaron Katz will discuss how big-picture changes in health care will affect seniors. King County Councilmember Joe McDermott will discuss how King County is preparing for changes in health care policy. The public is welcome to attend, however, reservations are required. Call the SeaTac Senior Program at 206-973-4690 no later than Wednesday, May 8. For more information, visit this Web page

Winter shelters extended until mid-June
Mayor Mike McGinn and King County Executive Dow Constantine announced last month that winter shelters offering beds for 215 individuals originally slated to close on April 15 will remain open for two more months through June 15. The City will extend 75 emergency shelter beds at City Hall and the winter shelter beds at Angeline's Women's winter shelter. In partnership with the City, King County will extend its 100 winter shelter beds at the King County Administration Building. The shelter extensions are possible in part due to an additional $150,000 in funding allocated by the City Council. A planning group convened by the Seattle Human Services Department, including representatives from King County, the YWCA, Operation Night Watch, Salvation Army, WHEEL and the Seattle-King County Coalition on Homelessness, met to discuss shelter needs and make recommendations on shelter extensions. For more information, see this press release.
Senior Farmers Market vouchers available soon
Peaches produceApplications are now available for the popular Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program, which provides low-income seniors with $40 in voucher checks that can be exchanged for fresh produce at farmers markets, roadside stands, and community-supported agriculture programs throughout King County. Applicants must be King County residents age 60 or older (age 55 or older if American Indian/Alaska Native) and low-income - below 185 percent of Federal Poverty Level (FPL). In real terms, that means someone who meets the age requirement must have an annual income at or below $21,257 (or $1,771 monthly) if he or she lives alone or $28,694 ($2,391 monthly) if he or she lives with one other person. For larger households, the FPL formula adds $620 per month per person. Applications are available at this Web page. For more details see this news release.
Members sought for African American elders council
The Seattle Human Services Department and the Mayor's Office are seeking candidates to serve on the Mayor's Council for African American Elders. Council members are appointed by the Mayor to serve renewable two-year terms. Members must reside within King County and serve without compensation. The Council advises City officials on policies, programs and services of benefit to older African Americans. For more information about the Council please see this Web page. For more information about the application process please contact Rowena Rye, Seattle Human Services Department, Mayor's Office for Senior Citizens, at or 206-684-0494.
88 people take oath of citizenship
On Friday, April 19th, Mayor McGinn, Seattle Human Services (HSD) Director Dannette R. Smith, and other officials participated at the annual Naturalization Ceremony at the Downtown Seattle Library, where 88 people from 37 countries took the oath of citizenship. HSD co-hosted the event along with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Seattle Public Library. HSD's New Citizen Program (NCP) provides $748,000 in 2013 funding to 14 community-based organizations that help low-income immigrants and refugees apply for U.S. citizenship and prepare for the required English and U.S. history and civics tests. 
Coffee Hour to feature regional Medicare administrator

John HammarlundPlease join us at the Mayor's for Senior Citizens' Senior Coffee Hour, this month featuring Medicare regional administrator John T. Hammarlund, who will speak about health care reform in Washington state.


Event details: Thursday, May 16, 2013, 10:00-11:00 a.m., at The Armory (formerly Seattle Center House), Room H.

FREE smoke alarms available from Fire Department
Smoke alarmYou may qualify for free smoke alarms if:
  • You live in the city of Seattle
  • You own and live in your home
  • You are either a senior citizen, have a disability or live on a low income.
To request your free smoke alarms or for information, please call 206-386-1337 or e-mail
County gives away office furniture to qualifying nonprofits
Local nonprofit organizations providing social and or health-related services to low-income and/or special needs populations may be eligible for receiving free surplus King County office equipment. To determine if your organization is eligible please complete this application form. The County's Department of Community and Human Services will review your application and determine if your organization is eligible. For more information, please call 206-263-9020.
Fighting global poverty
Seattle ambassador programThe City of Seattle and the Seattle International Foundation (SIF) are partnering to educate and mobilize local residents to support Seattle's thriving global development sector, by participating in the Seattle Ambassador program. This citywide campaign will raise awareness about local institutions working to alleviate poverty around the world and ask individuals to lend their support to this important sector. By signing up, residents will receive updates about the work of these organizations and learn about opportunities to get involved. Participants will be entered for a chance to be a Seattle Ambassador, and win an all-expense paid trip to see first-hand how our community is improving lives in Africa, Asia, or Latin America. Residents can visit this Web site or text SEATTLE to 80088 to join Seattle Ambassador and enter to win a trip overseas.

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Life Lines is published monthly by the City of Seattle's Human Service Department. Our mission is to connect people with resources and solutions during times of need so we can all live, learn, work and take part in strong, healthy communities. For more timely or breaking news, visit our blog, Human Interests, or visit our Web site. If you have questions, please e-mail David Takami or call 206-684-0253.

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