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February 2014

One Night in January


In the early morning hours of Friday, January 24th, I was part of a team of volunteers participating in the annual One Night Count of homeless people in King County. A total of 3,117 homeless people were counted countywide, an increase of 381 from last year (2,736).

On one hand it was inspiring to be among hundreds of volunteers (900 total) who cared enough to collect this important data while forgoing a night's sleep. But the reality of witnessing and reporting on people sleeping in alleys and parks in the cold of winter was indeed a sobering and sometimes heart-wrenching experience. I agree with the comments of Mark Putnam, the new director of the Committee to End Homelessness (CEH), who said, "any number over zero is one too many."

The count is organized by the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness through a contract with CEH and is a federal funding requirement. Teams of volunteers counted people who were without shelter and staying outside, in vehicles or in makeshift shelters. The count included parts of 11 suburban cities and unincorporated King County.

The results of the One Night Count confirmed the sense of urgency the Human Services Department, the City of Seattle, and our CEH partners feel about preventing and ending homelessness. In fact, the City of Seattle has added a significant amount of new funding to the 2014 budget to support the needs of families, youth and single adults who are homeless. Among the most significant of these budget increases are:
  • Outreach for the Center City Initiative: up to $508,000 for outreach through a multi-disciplinary team approach and $830,000 to expand the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program.
  • Family basic shelter capacity expansion: $200,000
  • Family emergency housing and long-term housing: $450,000
  • Diversion from homelessness pilot for homeless families (with Building Changes): $240,000
  • Young adult shelter (YouthCare's Orion Center): $130,000
  • Safe parking expansion for people living in vehicles: $100,000
  • Overnight shelter at City Hall and DESC shelter (for women) expansion to year-round operation: $112,244
I will be providing updates on our progress on these important programs as they are implemented throughout the year. In the meantime, if you'd like more information about the One Night Count, please visit this Web site. For more information about the Committee to End Homelessness, visit this site. For information about HSD's programs and services for homeless people, please contact Jason Johnson, Community Support & Assistance division director at or Sola Plumacher at

Catherine Lester
Interim Director, Seattle Human Services Department
Computer classes cater to older adults

MOSC Katherine at computer Using a computer can be intimidating for seniors who didn't grow up with this technology. Rosemary L. had tried attending computer classes in the past but the course fees were pricey, and instructors spouted technical jargon and had little patience for beginners. That's when she found the City of Seattle's Seniors Training Seniors program.

If you are an older adult looking for a place to learn how to use computers in a fun and stress-free learning environment, sign up for the Seniors Training Seniors computer classes. Registration is now open for classes from February through April 2014.

Sponsored by the Mayor's Office for Senior Citizens, part of the Seattle Human Services Department, Seniors Training Seniors offers classes such as "Introduction to Computer Basics," in which students will learn basic skills such as beginning word processing, Internet skills, and e-mailing. For those already familiar with basic skills, there is a "Beyond the Basics" class, which teaches more advanced skills.

Current Seniors Training Seniors sites are located in southeast Seattle, Greenwood, Lake City, Belltown, and Wallingford. To register or learn information about class dates, please contact Patti-lyn Bell, Mayor's Office for Senior Citizens, at 206-684-0639 or 

Mayor calls for doubling participation in Utility Discount Program
Planning is under way for a project to double the number of households participating in the Utility Discount Program in four years. Staff from the Seattle Human Services Department are teaming with their counterparts from Seattle Public Utilities and City Light to recruit more households. Mayor Murray announced the goal of doubling the number of enrollees on Jan. 29th. The total number of clients enrolled on December 31, 2013 was 14,002; the total enrolled on December 31, 2012 was 13,415. For more information about the Utility Discount Program, please visit this Web site or call 206-684-0268. 
Farm to Table program wins sustainability award

Farm to Table The Seattle Human Services Department's Farm to Table program won the Resource Impact award as part of the Sustainability Leadership Awards sponsored by Sustainable Seattle. The Farm to Table project links senior meal sites and Seattle child care programs to local area farms. The goal of these efforts is to get local, organic produce into some of Seattle's most under-served communities. HSD staff members Natalie Thomson (Youth & Family Empowerment) and Maria Langlais (Aging & Disability Services) coordinate the department's participation in this innovative project. For more information, please visit this Web site

Members sought for Mayor's Council on African American Elders
The Seattle Human Services Department is 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 Mayor's Council on African American Elders is a Council of up to 12 members. The Council advises City officials on policies, programs and services of benefit to older African Americans. To be considered for appointment to the Mayor's Council for African American Elders, please send a letter of interest and resume by Friday, March 7, 2014 to Rowena Rye, Rowena.Rye@Seattle.Gov or by U.S. mail to Rowena Rye, Aging and Disability Services of Seattle-King County, PO Box 34215, Seattle, WA 98124-4215. For more information see this press release.
Caregiving forum in Seattle on Feb. 19th
Are you caring for an older relative or person with a disability? The Washington Post and AARP are sponsoring a forum on caregiving in Seattle on Feb. 19th. Caregivers, save the date! The forum will be held from 8:30 to 11 a.m., at the W Hotel in downtown Seattle.

Among the featured speakers is Seattle Mayor Ed Murray.
Registration is now open.
Youth can connect with employers, educators at resource fair
Young people ages 15 to 22 are invited to attend the annual Youth Employment, Education and Career Fair on Feb. 19th, 1 to 4 p.m. at Goodwill Seattle, 700 Dearborn Pl. S, Seattle 98144.

Sponsored by Human Services Department's Seattle Youth Employment Program in partnership with King County, WorkSource Seattle-King County and Seattle Goodwill, the fair features, employers, college representatives and other community resources.
Learn about financial management at Financial Resource Day
Your connection to financial and job search resources is Financial Resource Day on March 22, 2014, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Rainier Community Center, 4600 38th Ave. S. At this event, get one-on-one help with
  • Credit, debt and budgeting
  • Financial planning and investments
  • Homeownership and foreclosure
  • Bankruptcy and consumer rights
  • Starting a business
  • Social Security/Medicare/Medicaid
  • Student loans and FAFSA
  • Veterans' benefits
  • Resumes and job hunting
You can also get your tax return prepared (free for people earning less than $52,000 a year), print a free credit report, apply for public benefits and much more. Meet with experts from many organizations including counselors from the new Financial Empowerment Center. This event is FREE. For more information please visit this Web site
Senior Coffee Hour features Senior Services CEO
Join us this month for the Senior Coffee Hour featuring Senior Services CEO Paula Houston, on Thursday, Feb. 20th, 10 a.m., at the Central Building, 810 3rd Ave., in downtown Seattle between Columbia and Marion streets. 

Sponsored by the Seattle Human Services Department's Mayor's Office for Senior Citizens, Senior Coffee Hours are held on the third Thursday of each month except December.
How you can participate in Older Americans Month (May)
Older Americans Month is an annual event dating back to 1963, when President John F. Kennedy designated May as Senior Citizens Month. It was later renamed Older Americans Month, honoring older Americans and celebrating their contributions to our communities and our nation. The national theme for the May 2014 Older Americans Month celebration is Safe Today. Healthy Tomorrow.

For more information on how you or your organization can get more involved, please visit this Web site
Messaging about emergencies
Do you need help getting the word out to vulnerable populations in the event of an emergency? Register now for the Emergency Messaging to Vulnerable Populations Workshop, which will be held on Thursday, March 20, 2014, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Southcenter DoubleTree Suites, 16500 Southcenter Parkway, Tukwila. At the workshop you will learn more about emergency notification and warning to vulnerable populations, including the development and dissemination of key messages and the use of diverse networks to deliver time-sensitive, life-safety information. Invited to attend are emergency managers, public information officers, and representatives from community and faith organizations. This event is free and lunch will be provided, but space is limited. For more information, please visit this Web site.
Do your federal taxes for free
The Internal Revenue Service and 14 commercial software providers are making an offer that's hard to beat: do your taxes online for free. This public/private partnership is called Free File, which provides free brand-name software or fillable forms. If your income is $58,000 or less - and that's 70 percent of Americans - you can use a Free File software product. If your income is more, use Free File Fillable Forms. Explore your options only at this Web site.  
Panel releases report on family housing
The Seattle Planning Commission has just released "Family-Sized Housing: An Essential Ingredient to Attract and Retain Families with Children in Seattle." In this white paper, the Commission urges the Mayor and City Council to establish an action plan to address the need for suitably sized housing that is affordable to families, and offers an Action Agenda with 11 specific recommendations. 
Funds available to improve technology
Technology Matching Funds are now available. The City of Seattle is accepting applications for matching grants of up to $20,000 per project to increase technology literacy or use of technology tools for civic engagement for Seattle residents. The deadline to apply is March 12th. The City is encouraging applications for community-based civic engagement projects that build the digital skills of our residents, raise awareness of city resources online and use the internet, social media and/or mobile devices for community engagement and interaction with government. For more information, visit this Web site or e-mail or call Delia Burke at 206-233-2751.
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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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