- Kelly Blucher, Goodwill
- I’m so glad you are all here
(OK, all this housing authority stuff is really quite complicated – like trying to listen to my Scottish nephew explain how to play cricket – all the words makes sense, and it can’t be that complicated, and yet… So, I’ve done my best here with the notes, but it may be a bit lacking. Luckily, the Housing Authority websites are treasure troves of information (I relied on them a bit when writing these notes) – I’d highly recommend looking them over if you have questions. –ed).
Tacoma Housing Authority – http://tacomahousing.net/
- Karen Bunce, Tacoma Housing Authority, Department Manager – Policy, Innovation and Evaluation - firstname.lastname@example.org - 253-682-6216
- Aley Thompson, Tacoma Housing Authority, Project Manager - Policy, Innovation and Evaluation - email@example.com - 253-274-5587
- We have some Proposed Changes we are thinking about with the waiting list, for both the Properties and the Voucher Program
- You are all the voice of many of the folks on our waitlist – and we want some more feedback before we make any changes
- We are reaching out to our partners, landlords and property managers.
- Tacoma Housing Authority is a “Moving to Work” housing authority – one of 39 in the nation. We are able to have some flexibility with funding that other housing authorities are not allowed. We asked similar programs in the nation about their practices. It is a high level overview of the responses is at https://www.tacomahousing.net/sites/default/files/print_-_mtw_housing_numbers.pdf
- Proposed Changes to the Property waitlist (waitlist for the communities of housing operated by the Housing Authority – a bit more info at https://www.tacomahousing.net/news-updates/articles/tacoma-housing-authority-considering-changes-its-waiting-list)
- We have a consolidated waitlist for the property waitlist. Since it can take a long time (years) to get offered housing off the waitlist, we started offering folks on that waitlist a Housing Choice Voucher instead. A few other Moving To Work agencies do this. We also asked if other agencies had removed the waitlist completely. We have considered possibly removing waitlists and doing first-come-first-serve. Waitlist are a lot of work. However, many of our nonprofit partners think waitlists allow more vulnerable clients to have fair access. We’ve also found that many private landlords are starting waitlists themselves. And one agency that removed waitlists is looking at bringing them back.
- Proposing that if someone is housed (except those housed through RRH) with THA through a housing voucher subsidy (section 8 or Housing Choice Voucher or through a partner agency) we will remove them from the waitlist and consider them housed. We recycle a lot of the same folks over and over again. We would have one family be on multiple waitlists. They would move from one property to another. We are looking at some fluid processes that allow us to shift with the housing market. So, if you are consider housed with the Tacoma Housing Authority, no new unit.
- We will continue to provide our property waitlist clients a Housing Opportunity Program Voucher – a 5-year work-ready voucher (this is one of those moments of not quite knowing for sure what something is – in this case the Housing Opportunity Program (HOP) voucher limits households where people are able to work to just 5 years of assistance. Again – the website is a valuable place to learn about the different programs - https://www.tacomahousing.net/hop-program -ed). 60% of folks have taken us up on this and have found housing on the open market.
- Remove property select option – in the past, clients could select multiple properties – by bedroom size. Clients can’t select a property – they get what is available when they come up of the waitlist which may cause clients to move across town. Housing would just be done by bedroom count.
- Change rules for declining unit “for cause” (“for cause” meaning a good reason, like daycare location, job, etc.). Proposal is clients can only decline a unit once. Include additional items not currently considered “good cause” – like a client facing financial penalties from exiting an existing lease in order to enter a Housing Authority project, or if children are in a special school program.
- Patricia – if they have a lease, aren’t they housed? Karin – only excluded if they are housed with us – income is the main eligibility factor, not housing status.
- Maureen – on the point of good cause, I’ve seen some drafts on the Tacoma Tenant code, I’ve seen the language “good cause” used in two ways. Aley - yes, we are involved in conversation around “just cause” in tenant protections. THA is governed by “just cause” evictions. “Good cause” for declining leases is the terminology we’ll use. Maureen – you might consider changing language to be much clearer. Maybe have non-housing geeks help with phrasing. Al – you can’t use phrasing you like if it is confusing to others.
- Joyce – I’m from California, I’m going back to the declining the unit topic. When someone is market-rate housing, they are eligible for a housing voucher. They can say “no, I will decline it” or “yes I want it.” I didn’t realize that folks housed could be eligible for these vouchers. Aley – eligibility for THA assistance is income-based, not based on housing status. Maureen – this if just for Tacoma.
- Lynn – can you decline based on job location? . Karen – job is consider a “good cause”.
- Lavada – does a “good cause” involve stairs? Karen – reasonable accommodation would cover that
- Adopting our occupancy standards for properties that we use for vouchers – where we do 2 heartbeats per room. In our properties, flexibilities with different genders is there, but we don’t have that flexibility with our vouchers. Looking at moving voucher system to property system. Live-in help is exempted from the 2 heartbeat rule (good, because the valet would never share a room with the Valet. –ed). Landlords are frustrated that the rules around our vouchers are more stringent than we apply to our properties.
- Change to reinstatement policy. If we don’t hear from a client in 14 business days after attempting to offer them housing, they have 12 months to reconnect to get reinstated on the waitlist (I think that is what they said. –ed). We want to change it to 6 months. We will require that clients check in quarterly – via a portal where they can see where they are on the waitlist and check in, view info about utility debt and need for background checks that will be useful when they get close to the top of the waitlist. Still have 6 months grace after removed from list to get back on.
- Maureen – the pre-rental list, are you offering classes to assist folks with being housed? Looking to implement a renter readiness program – looking at different models – want to give folks a few month notice when they will have a property come open.
- Marybeth – how does the spinnaker project work in the market rate rents. Karen – we are working to keep these apartments affordable – running them at cost.
- Brendan – hard for clients to find housing with vouchers. Aley – we pay up to 110% of Fair Market Rents. We often hear that our processes are onerous – necessary inspections take time. We are very aware of the struggle that our folks with vouchers are facing – 45% of our vouchers are returned unused. Trying to project-base as many voucher as possible, since we would control the property and would be sure that the vouchers get used. We are offering as much subsidy as possible right now. We are working on this.
- Patricia – do you place clients with vouchers in shared housing? Karen – we do, but I’m not sure of the rate. Aley – our voucher holders can use their vouchers for shared housing. Patricia – do you assist landlords with evictions? Aley – yes
- 3 reasons to change the waitlist. Want to move from 8 year waitlist to a 2 year waitlist
- We want to make an easier to understand list
- We want more operational efficiency
- Want to work through our waitlist quicker (Kind of hard to argue with those reasons. –ed)
- Maureen – there is a lot of misinformation around housing. Karen – we will come back to tell you what we implement and talk over how to do it.
(I’m listening to music by Looking Glass while I’m writing this. They are best known for “Brandy (You’re a fine girl)”, a song I love despite its somewhat misogynistic, paternalistic lyrics. The rest of the album just sort of blends into the background, but wow, they nailed it with “Brandy”. When my wife was pregnant, we never agreed on a girl name. I remember pushing the name Brandy one time, and my wife was “you only like it because of that song”. And I said, “no, I like it because of that song and because ‘Remy Martin’ is a terrible name for a girl.” Anyway, we had two boys before the factory was shut down, so finding a girl’s name ended up being a moot point. -ed.)
Pierce County Housing Authority - https://www.pchawa.org/
- Tamara Meade, Director of Supported housing programs, Pierce County Housing Authority - TamaraMeade@pchawa.org
- The Pierce County Housing Authority manages some 3,000 section 8 vouchers.
- Also owns 125 single family homes – 3 and 4 bedroom homes – in areas like Bonney Lake, Spanaway, Gig Harbor.
- Income requirements – 50% and under (but 40% of households must be 30% and under)
- If you have too much income, you must exit the program after 2 years.
- On the 17th, opening waitlist for Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program – currently have 169 people left on the list. Of the 1,500 on the list, would love to say we housed them all. But, we have a problem when we notify the tenants, many are transient and tough to get ahold of. In March, we tried to get ahold of 500 applicants, but only got ahold of 200. We not only have trouble finding people, but we also have trouble getting landlords to accept vouchers.
- Are putting resources to landlord involvement. We got 70 additional Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing(VASH) Vouchers (vouchers proving rent subsidies and case management for chronically homeless veterans –ed.), so now have 239, with 20 more coming along at the end of the year.
- Tacoma Housing Authority and Pierce County Housing Authority are very different.
- Tacoma Housing Authority is Moving To Work . Pierce County Housing Authority is not – so we have more limits on use because of HUD rules.
- We are everywhere in Pierce County, except Tacoma city limits
- Tacoma Housing Authority can use vouchers in City of Tacoma and in Lakewood. (Tacoma can also go 2.5 miles outside the Tacoma city limit)
- PCHA can also do all of the 98444 zip code (which includes Pierce County’s premier mini-golf course – Parkland Putters - 10636 Sales Rd S. Four full 18 hole mini golf courses. The “Boat Course” is the flashy one, but serious mini-golfers know the back 18 is where you test you mettle. Don’t try the “left course” is your marriage is on the rocks – the strain could put you over the edge. Anyway, if you haven’t been to Parkland Putters, you are missing out on the good living life has to offer –ed).
- On Monday, the PCHA project waitlist opened.
- We don’t do 2 heartbeats per room. We do split genders into separate rooms when one turns 7 years old. However, we don’t separate sexes by age – Grandmas can live in same room with a 3 year old. We just use it to calculate the rent.
- Question – people who come in with evictions with THA and are applying with PCHA. What does that look like, can the eviction be paid off. In PCHA, you are denied if evicted from a public housing authority in the last 3 years. If you owe money to a housing authority, no voucher will be given until you pay off the housing authority. It doesn’t bar you from waitlist, just from getting the voucher. We will start notifying clients about to receive a voucher a few months prior to receiving the voucher. The voucher must be used within 120 days – and that is a lot to ask for someone that has to get their credit up and pay off landlords. If they have notice, they may be able to get their house in order (so to speak –ed.) so they are able to use the voucher the day they receive it.
- We do have class to help folks with the challenges of finding housing and cleaning up credit and debt.
- Joyce – like Tacoma Housing Authority, do client have skin in the game – do the clients have to be accountable? Tamara – we notify clients ahead of time or via e-mail. We make folks do stuff on-line. Want to get folks to respond. Many clients don’t have minutes on phone or mailing addresses. Will take any suggestion on how to get folks to respond. After 14 days, we take you off the waitlist. And with the voucher, clients to pay 1/3 of their income to rent.
- Marybeth – owing money to housing authority – is that different than owing to the landlord. Tamara - If it is tenant-based, unpaid rent is owed to the landlords.
- The waitlist that opens on the 17th, we pull from the waitlist via a lottery.
- Sherri – how many of the 62% of folks you can contact are eligible for the voucher. Tamara - Leasing success is 43%.
- Lavada – getting the client prepared – what about the young folks between 25 and 30 where parents used their identify and screwed up their credit? What about them? Tamara – with the “Ready to Rent Program – staff know how to clean up credit and dispute agencies. Once on the program, can go into the “family self-sufficiency program”.
- Joyce – who teaches the renter readiness program? – Tamara – The community development division at the Pierce County Housing Authority (I’ve been working with non-profits too long, whenever I hear development, I always think euphemism for “fundraising” –ed).
- Joyce – 200-300 vouchers – where do folks go to in the private market to find a landlord. Tamara - 30% of monthly income goes to rent. Even with the voucher, 55% of households are rent burdened. Payment standards are keeping up with rents. Going to board to increase payment standards to 110% of Fair market Rent.
- John – talk about contacting the client. I understand the difficulty in getting the client to respond. Could we make the client more responsible to contact you? Tamara – our waitlist is all done on-line and they have to have an e-mail address. We partner with PC library systems. That is the computer lab they can use. We can shift the responsibility back to the client. Even then, often clients do not have the minutes to use a phone or a way to make contact.
- Lavada – there are issues with the library computer systems – over half of the folks told to do this are computer illiterate – and library staff doesn’t have time to assist. (I’d have a chat with the librarians if you witness this. As a Librarian (non-practicing, sadly) I can say with some authority, that isn’t the world they are trying to create. –ed) Tamara – our on-line system has been very successful. When on paper, we got 200 applications in a month. Switching to on-line, we had 1,800 applicants over only a week.
- We own 7 apt complexes that are affordable housing owned by Pierce County Housing Authority – open to anyone. Are run with as low a cost rent as possible. Some project-based vouchers are for Permanent Support Housing. All come through referrals in the Coordinate Entry System, and are run by agencies like LASA, Helping Hand House, REACH, and others (like Catholic Community Services – just sayin’ –ed.)
- Patricia – lots of folks who can’t access e-mail – use texts and chat and facebook. (Word always underlines facebook because it wants me to capitalize it. I always feel like Word is pushing for facebook to get some respect from me. Not happening. –ed.) Tamara – we’ll look into that.
- Lynn – Parkland Manor – if a client lives in Parkland Manor and qualifies for voucher – is she consider housed by you all? Tamara - Parkland Manor is project-based. The Housing Choice Voucher is a different program, and they can apply for that voucher when in the project-based program. Clients can be on all three lists at the same time. HCV is a tenant based program - allows you to live in areas where you might have more opportunities (like next to Parkland Putters? –ed).
- Lynn – Income-wise- someone that got SSI when they applied, is that OK? Tamara – good as long as you are under-income. However, Housing Choice Vouchers do have a work preference – if clients work 20 or more hours per week they get a higher priority on the list.
- Waitlist open on the 17th. Pull of new waitlist in November or December of this year. Doesn’t matter when they apply during that period – it is a lottery.
- Patricia – how does preference work? Tamara - the HCV voucher has no preferences (my notes contradict each other about this aspect, and I’ve lost my interest in researching, so this will just need to be a little mystery…-ed.)
- 2 waitlists –
- September 17th opening is section 8, traditional Housing Choice Voucher – which clients can take to private landlords
Public housing waitlist opened this week – where the existing unit is subsidized by the housing authority.
HIRE 253 Event
- Kelly Blucher, Community Engagement Czar, Goodwill Industries - KellyB@goodwillwa.org
- posters and flyers are out – please put them out everywhere – in libraries and restaurants and everywhere.
- next 253 works job club – September 5th – a presentation on criminal background, and how to get over that barrier
- Résumé workshop for HIRE 253 coming up. Pushing employers to make sure they hire at the Hire 253 event, so we can meet that 50% marker. (wow, they sure picked an ambitious goal, 50% of attendees hired, that would be amazing. –ed.)
- Looking for some more partnerships – would like some donations of security – would love some ideas. Looking for 100 volunteers at the event.
Good of the Order
- Associated Ministries is launching the Landlord Liaison Project on September 17th. (presentation on this program coming to a future meeting. –ed.)
- October 30th, 3-5pm, Fleet Services office, training on all the issues involved in applying for charity care, getting access to translation, and many issues related to immigrants. Hospital and Medical bills are a major driver of homelessness. (A nice press release about Al and the Human Rights Commission work on reducing the burden of unpaid medical bills - http://www.cityoftacoma.org/cms/One.aspx?portalId=169&pageId=157418 . I was totally looking for a link to a notice about this meeting, but this was a fun find before I gave up…–ed.)
- New Connections does ID recovery for folks exiting from jail
- New connections, starting October 10th have a room for a client with a bed date.
- At the Stability Site, they are short of water – they can use some bottled water.
- Maureen – if you are placing people into housing – have your clients read their lease. Call Washington Tenants Union or Chiquita Elder in the City of Tacoma.
- Lavada – anything that is written on paper is a legal document, if you sign it you are accountable for it. The person reading may not understand the legal terms – having someone with legal experience to read the contract before signing it is important. (I’m with Lavada on this one – if a lawyer wrote it and someone wants you to sign it, a lawyer on your side should probably read it. –ed.)
- Maureen – we have a chance to get real justice for tenant protections with the City of Tacoma
- September 14th – Shelter forum - Cities with very cold winters have enough shelter to prevent folks dying in the cold. Warmer areas like ours have to scramble to have enough beds.
- September 21st – Probably a candidate forum, but maybe College programs for youth at risk or experiencing homelessness, and an overview of the Landlord Liaison Project by Associated Ministries (they don’t know I’m probably going to punt their presentation in preference for the candidate forum –ed.)
- September 28th – October 19th – Candidate Forums
- October 26th – Guest panel – The Little Piggy that went to market – shopping excursion or one-way trip to the slaughterhouse? Hear the experts and make your own judgement.
- A December celebration extravaganza
I like most coffee shops. I enjoy hard-care coffee purist places, where they have a menu of different single-origin coffees, a few blends, and all of them roasted on site. But nothing else. Valhalla’s coffee roaster/espresso stand on 6th ave. fits that bill – and it is some pretty amazing coffee. I’m also a somewhat frequent patron of starbucks – I always appreciate that there is a drink there for everyone in your party, and while you can do better than their chicken panini, you can do far worse. And each starbucks is pretty much the same, which is not wholly a bad thing. But what I really love is the neighborhood hangout coffee shop. Someplace with above average coffee, food made from scratch, and tables to puzzle over the bridge column in or have an informal meeting with friends. The Mandolin Café was my go-to location for years. It wasn’t quite in my neighborhood, but no too far out of the way. I spent some serious time in that coffee shop. Sadly, they loss their lease, and the neighborhood staple evaporated. My current go-to café is the Red Elm – on 1114 MLK Jr. Way. It has a vibe that I really enjoy. There are always people there, but not so many that you can’t get a table. Service is honest, pleasant and quick – no forced cheery greetings or passive aggressive judgements on my coffee of choice (yes, I’m having decaf – don’t be a hater). The menu is fun – a mix of waffles and grilled sandwiches. If you’ve not had a Waffle Dog there, you are missing out. I’m pretty sure they are Belgian-waffles-because-they-have-big-holes and not Belgian-waffles-because-they-use-a-yeast-batter, but they are still great. They have good salads and all that, too. The space is pleasant, with lots of room hanging out or for meetings. There is a community meeting room, which can seat probably 10 or 12 at a large table, and you can reserve that. I know quite a few folks (I’m certainly not looking at you, Greg), who use the space as their office – something they welcome (well, as long as you keep buying their coffee, I suppose). They have a nice area for the kids, too. I almost never visit the Red Elm when I don’t know at least one person sipping a coffee at a table, and that is a nice feeling. The shop is owned by three sisters, who are all about making their community a better place. Anyway, when you need to schedule a meeting with someone you met at our fine weekly provider meeting and you want to escape the office for a bit, the Red Elm will give you that little oasis you need.
Attendee question - what is a connection you made in the last week (never have I seen such clear, readable penmanship as I am reading right now. Have you all been taking hand lettering classes or something? Except Sherri – who appears to have broken free of the confines of the representative qualities typically associated with penmanship –and yet I always know it’s her… –ed.)
- Brenda Fowler-Longoria, Consejo Counseling & Referral Services - first time here
- Kayla Scrivner, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department
- Kymm Dozal, Comprehensive Life Resources - Looking forward to partnerships
- Tamara Meade, Pierce County Housing Authority - making some connections today
- Bill Bruno, Catholic Community Services – Just made a partnership with Sea Mar on clothing
- Sarah Bellamy, Comprehensive Life Resources
- Marilyn Duran, Tacoma Rescue Mission
- Glen Kelley, Multicare – making connections doing outreach
- Kalena Towle, Multicare - always looking to partner with temporary housing for folks going to treatment
- Grace Fortson, Joy for Washington Campaign
- Patricia Menzies, Tent City Tacoma – At the Hilltop Street Fair I made lots of connections
- Jena Smith, Department of Social and Health Services, Pierce North
- Joyce Stanford, Candidate 26 District, Great partnerships here
- Lynn Jones, Catholic Community Services, appreciate the connections from the listserv
- Brendan Baker, Veterans Administration – new partnership – worked with Veterans with Foreign Wars for the first time
- Leah English, Veterans Administration
- Sarah Appling, Pierce County Human Services – made connections with emergency shelters this week
- Tony Lewis, Associated Ministries - worked with Volunteer Legal Services
- Faatima Lawrence, Catholic Community Services - not a new partnership, but a renewed partnership with YouthBuild
- Mindy Kim, Catholic Community Services - Looking forward to partnerships
- Maureen Howard, Housing Advocate - Most recent partner is Allie with the Tacoma Housing Authority (when Maureen said this, I misheard, and though she said Al, and I was completely puzzled as to how those two had only met last week. But it wasn’t Al, it was Aley, a completely different person… –ed.)
- Marybeth McCarthy, Tacoma Community College - new resources – Families Unlimited Network in UP
- Matthew Jorgensen, City of Tacoma - new partner is Brian Wilson (and you can’t ask for a better partner in the field, or probably anywhere, than Brian Wilson. –ed.)
- Carrie Ching, Molina Healthcare - no new partnerships, but strengthened a few with Sumner and Bethel School Districts.
- Al Ratcliffe, not affiliated with anybody (although we all try to be associated with you, an effort to get some of your greatness to rub off on us. –ed)
- Ty Dilworth, Tacoma Rescue Mission - Looking forward to partnerships to help clients get Identification.
- Lawrence Kinnaman, Tacoma Rescue Mission – looking for more resources
- John Smith, Tacoma Rescue Mission
- Michelle Harrison, Peninsula School District - there is a lot of need in the Peninsula School District
- Tamara Meade, Pierce County Housing Association - ran into James from CLR
- Aley Thompson, Tacoma Housing Authority - working with Maureen on tenant rights (this is where I figured out my error…-ed)
- Karen Bunce, Tacoma Housing Authority
- Richard Berghammer, Fellowship Bible Church - made some great connection at Fairfax detox
- Marcus Taylor, Tacoma Rescue Mission
- Theresa Power-Drutis, New Connections - looking for connection with some space to store donations for a short period of time
- Brandon Ault, Comprehensive Life Resources (soon to be Catholic Community Services) - connection with Larry Turk at the PTS foundation
- Sherri Jensen, Valeo Vocations – placed our first client – have a couple clients that are working from the stability site
- Greg Walker, Valeo Vocations – connected with Evergreen College – looking to deepen their connection with the community. Students need to do research project and want to connect them with data collecting within our community. Connect with me if you hae a
- Daryl Jones, Recovery Foundation
- Kenny Moultry, Recovery Foundation - new partnership called the Works program
- Bonnie Rico, Comprehensive Life Resources - made a couple connection with a church in Puyallup and with Sherri with Valeo
- Liz Murphy, Comprehensive Life Resources - met with MDC Veterans Services and got some resources
- Nate Blackmer, Comprehensive Life Resources - were activated to help folks at the Merkle – more dire than Tike apartments
- Rosemary Powers, New Connections - connections with folks at the street fair.
- Dru Gonia, Tacoma Salvation Army – made connections with Coordinated Care and MDC
- Lavada Napier, Zydeco Queen
- Joseph Denton, Sound Outreach - volunteering with the HIRE253 event and landed a partnership
- Barb Kalber, Accountable Communities of Health and Community Voice Council,
- Gerrit Nyland, Catholic Community Services – made new partnership last week with the case managers at the Downtown Rescue Mission
- Kelly Blucher, Goodwill - toured the Stability site and Nativity House and was wowed by the programs.
- Elaine Tuisila, Metropolitan Development Council