Meeting Information

Meeting Type
Friday Coalition Meeting
Friday, 5/17/2019
9:00 AM
11:00 AM
Presentation by FUSE Washington - by Reiny Cohen (former Communication Director for the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance) and Alison Cheung (Senior Strategist) helping us develop strong messaging around homelessness and resources we need to address it. We will also have a presentation on the new locations for Coordinated Entry Conversations - the front door to the homeless system.
The Salvation Army Church (1110 S Puget Sound Ave, Tacoma, WA 98405)


  • James Pogue, Comprehensive Life Resources
  • Grants and NOFAs coming out fast and furious from the County
    • Youth NOFA has been a big topic – Away Home Washington  has created a big ask.  Have a 2 year goal to have “yes to yes” – when people want an intervention, it is there and available.  There is a new position based at Comprehensive Life Resources to coordinate the work.  It is funded for 2 years, and we want someone who can commit to that full 2 years.  (Job description at -ed.)  We are excited about having all youth organizations sharing data – and this coordinator will have 2 years to make it all happen. 
  • – go there for info on our coalition.  Sign up for the listserv there - .  It is a busy listserv.  It is used by the government agencies, so traffic is open to public disclosure.  If you have a need, asking for “size 12 mens boot” without identifying the individual by name or phone number. 
  • Lots of folks identified issues with no available shelter.  Excited about the new beds opening at the Tacoma Rescue Mission.  They are expanding capacity by some 20 or 30  more beds starting June 1st.  The other beds will come on line when the warehouse remodel is complete.  The Rescue Mission serves breakfast and dinner, but does not have a day program.  Also, any single adults new to Tacoma Rescue Mission (or coming back after a long time away –ed) will get a place to sleep that night.


FUSE Washington -

  • Reiny Cohen, Senior Strategist, FUSE Washington.  Was the communications director for the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance (and Reiny was also an announcer on KUOW.  I should have asked for an autograph – it was a total meet-a-hero moment, and I didn’t milk it for all it was worth. I didn’t even get a selfie – although it is really the voice that is of myth and legend  - is there an audio version of a selfie?  Maybe Carl Kesell on your answering machine is as close as it gets? It is a bit belated, but I did send her a linkedin request – let’s hope for the best –ed.) -
  • This is Alison’s presentation – I’m just here to make it relevant for housing
  • Alison Cheung, Communications Hub Manager, FUSE Washington,
  • Presentation PDF
  • FUSE is a progressive advocacy organization.  I appreciate that not everyone here is coming from a progressive position, and we will work to respect that (that was the gist of what was said, I didn’t quite get it word-for-word – ed.)
  • Our team’s work is to help Washington’s movement for change
  • We come from a progressive perspective
  • We are working to build progressive Power through story telling
  • Goals –
    • Explore the value of the narrative and why stories matter and win campaigns (“Find the story, Granny Weatherwax always said. She believed that the world was full of story shapes. If you let them, they controlled you. But if you studied them, if you found out about them... you could use them, you could change them.”, Terry Pratchett, Witches Abroad.  I love Terry Pratchett novels, and the witches books are 2nd best, behind the Sam Vimes novels. I’d start with Witches Abroad.  And I bring it up, because the Witches are all about the “Story”, which became a lovely way for me to look at the world.  And Pratchett is a comic genius with more heart than most. – ed.)
    • Understand the 6 elements of an epic story and how to use them
    • Discuss how narrative strategies win campaigns
  • Hero’s Narrative
    • Similar to the Hero’s Journey ( –ed)
    • Joseph Campbell is a scholar, who noticed a story telling structure he calls the Hero’s Narrative. 
    • People love the narrative - as humans, we connect to a narrative
    • The Hero’s Narrative Project is a multi-year project started in 2010.  We brought in story tellers and lots of other folks to help build narratives that will make change happen
    • Used this narrative very effectively in getting folks on board – more so than statistics will (I shed a little tear here, but she’s right.  But if you have some data in your narrative… -ed)
    • Why a narrative?
      • Think about the story of your organization, or an issue that affects the people you serve.
      • Big Money Lobbyists have told a narrative where free-market is a solution to all our problems.  This narrative is so pervasive, it often defeats our efforts before they even get started. 
      • The goal is to shift the narrative
    • Narrative and message aren’t the same.  A narrative tells the message, but does more.  A narrative tells a cohesive story over time – like a genre oriented bookshelf – all stories working towards a common theme.
    • Here in Washington, we have lots of liberals in our state – we speak almost 100% in facts and policies.  They don’t motivate most to act – because we have lizard brains – brains that allow us to live in the moment and make quick decisions.  We make up our mind emotionally, and then seek facts to justify that perspective.  People need to feel. 
    • Values allow us to feel something.  Most Americans only spend about 5 minutes a week talking about public policy (those are the type of people I suspect my children dream about having for parents. –ed).  Audiences aren’t really listening, connecting with their values is what is going to convince people fast.  We have to convince people with emotions.  (I know I’ve rambled about this before, but I loved the book “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion”, by Jonathan Haidt – all about how we have these base moral foundations, and that if you aren’t telling stories that emotionally connect to all of those base moral foundations, and the other side is, you will lose the votes you need every time.  He’s a great story teller, too.- -ed.)
    • Repetition is key – we can feel like a broken record – but we have to be diligent to stick to the topic.  Make sure value are always there.
    • The Epic Story
      • What is a dominant narrative we hear a lot?
        • Martha – they just need to get a job
        • Theresa – people just want to be homeless.
        • Nathan – Seattle is dying narrative
        • Nathan – the idea that people are refusing services.
      • A lot of people are very convinced by these messages.  It doesn’t help to say they are wrong.  We need to tell a story that is able to bring more people in. 
    • Story Elements
      • Quest – broad, long term goal.  The frame for the story – usually high stakes framed around our value.  The hero is going after something really big.  In Harry Potter, harry is going to defeat Voldemort and bad magic affecting wizards everywhere.  In housing – the quest is that everyone has an opportunity to life in a safe and affordable home.
        • A policy goal is never the hero -
      • Threat – the call to action for the audience.  The threat is the danger posed by the villain – it is close to home.  In Harry Potter, the threat is dark magic taking over the world (personified by the Death Eaters at the World Quidditch Cup in book 4 – an amazing start to by far the best book in the series. Oh my gosh, I’m going to go reread that right now –ed).  In  housing, it is the rise in homelessness – people becoming homeless for a variety of reasons – rising rents, stagnant wages, behavioral health – all in the threat. 
        • Many make a mistake in talking about the threat and ending there.  We have to be aspirational and talk about what the world would be like without the threat. (I love this part. –ed)
        • We need end by saying it doesn’t have to be this way.  We need to put it in terms they can see it in everyday life.  How it might affect someone they know or work with
        • Think about people who weren’t active and then became active – what inspired them? 
      • Heroes – we need a hero at the heart of the story – it has to be about the people we are trying to serve.  These are the shoes your audience puts themselves in.
        • Heroes have a sense of right and wrong, and willingness to fight.  They also have a strength – like being a good parent, or just being a strong person.  The hero should be a regular person, not a politician.  One example could be responsible business owners standing up to have their voice heard.  Another example - Harry Potter is a good friend.  In homelessness there are a variety of heros – service providers, people on the verge of homeless or experiencing homelessness.  We fall back on the policy or government as our heroes.  That is a trap (“It’s a trap” – Admiral Ackbar) – heroes need to be everyday people.
      • Hero’s tools – policies and programs we need – how we talk about our policies in a way that allow our heroes to succeed.  How the hero achieves the quest.  Make sure they are values-based.  Need to make sure they show why the policy matters and how it affects people’s lives.  “We’ll be able to help this many more people” – show why it matters.  In Harry Potter, the hero’s tools are a wand – something that allows them to fight back against evil.  Martha – it is friendship, that is Harry Potter’s Strength. Raney – yes, friendship is values-based. In homelessness– landlords are often villains, and the hero is someone who couldn’t get an apartment.  A bill that helps the hero get housing is the tool for the hero – maybe the person with section 8 voucher is the hero in the story.
      • Villain – the controversial thing.  We need to name the villain – these are real people taking actions to threaten the lives of the people we are trying to serve.  We must hold them accountable.  It can be deep pocketed special interests, it can be a politician.  It has to be justifiable, and we have to describe their actions.  Villains always have a weapon.  And the story always  needs a villain.  With homelessness, the homeless person is often the villain when other are narrating the story.  We must narrate another one.  In homelessness, it is challenging.  You can’t always have landlords as villains – they are often partners.  Needed to identify for-profit landlords who are denying people.  That can be more specific than we want – but you do what you have to do. 
      • Villain’s Weapons – how we talk about our opponents do their work.  In homelessness, they are often using discrimination against people with low income.  Lobbying can be the villain’s weapon.  Martha – weapon is value based – the landlords says they’ll have their private property destroyed – get folks on their side with a narrative like that – fear of something that probably won’t happen is compelling.  Fear is a common weapon. 
    • Joy – sometimes it seems like the villain doesn’t tell the correct facts – you say we need to work on emotions, but sometimes the facts are being lied about and we need correct facts – how do we do that at the same time.  Reiny- connect on values first, then you can fill them with the proper facts.  Facts don’t changes someone’s mind, especially when fed a set of facts they believe.  Alison – if you are coming to someone spitting these lies in your face – and speak to their fears – “I agree we all want to be safe…”, then discuss how a policy will get everyone to a shared value.  Try to reach people on a human level.
    • Carolyn – are there some strategies around racism – often values outwardly are to be antiracist, but they still have racist behaviors.  But it is hard to call someone a racist.  Do you try to be color blind?  Reiny – do you mean when you are looking at solutions.  In the housing alliance, we ran things through an equity lens to make sure it was actually benefiting the groups we were trying to benefit.  In advance, look at your solution and make sure that every element is included.  Carolyn – how do you work that into the story?  Alison – color blindness isn’t a good policy.  We don’t need to cater to people who believe that inequities aren’t the fault of certain groups.  We need to be diligent and honest about inequities – and we need to show a good story. 
    • Carolyn Read – thanks for all you do.   Do you have a lot of challenges with lobbyist for developers?  Answer - depending on the situation, the villain changes – for-profit developers, landlords, developers.  Our challenge is always that we need these people on our side to pass a bill.  You have to  workshop when a villain is appropriate.  You can usually use powerful special interests.  If you have to be vague, be vague, but being as specific as you can is always best (it is funny, as I listened to the presentation, I kept thinking about how hard I work to have a common villain with my opposing side.  If landlords are narrating around a person experiencing homelessness as a villain, I try to find a common hero – maybe a homeless veteran – and a common villain – maybe untreated PTSD. That forces them to have to change their narrative a bit.  I know this doesn’t always work, but I try.  And I do agree it is all about the story. –ed)
    • GH Pastor – one question we have to ask is what is our personal intent.  In communication, you need to talk about why it matters to them.  You have to answer the question about the person you are talking to.  Know who your audience is. 
    • Narrative in Action.
      • Example – a narrative we all know – the free market quest – 50 years ago the term free market was relatively unknown (although Adam Smith published the idea in “Wealth of Nations” a couple hundred years ago, it did only reach the current level of near-religious devotion recently –ed).
        • Threat – redistribution of the wealth – money you earned will be wasted
        • Hero – tax payers, small business
        • Tools – hard work and talent, liberty
        • Villain – big government, liberals, welfare queens, tree-huggers
        • Villains Weapons - taxes , over-regulations, nanny state, collective marketing
        • Values- individual freedom, liberty, self-sufficiency, laziness punished 
        • Outcomes – many government programs are underfunded. 
      • Group exercise - exercise results in a chart
        • Quest - People exiting incarceration get reintegrated into the community
        • Threat – criminal records that will block housing or employment or history of homelessness or eviction or economic status. 
        • Hero – service providers, advocates, decision makers, People with lived experience. 
        • Hero’s Tools – (I don’t quite think we got to these.-ed)
        • Villains – potential employers and landlords. People who benefit from capitalism.  For profit prisons
        • Villains’ Weapons – policies blocking access, stoking fear.  Propaganda, “bad person” narrative.  Social Media.  Control of the media – Sinclair. (a hush came around the room when Sinclair was named, as if someone said Voldemort. –ed). 
      • Another Group Exercise  
        • Quest -  Providing primary healthcare to people experiencing homelessness
        • Threat – repeal of the Affordable Care Act
        • Heroes – health care providers, people that need the healthcare
        • Tools – (again, I don’t think we did this part. –ed)
        • Villains – insurance industry and their lobbyists, Donald Trump.  Hospital CEOs and presidents.  Pharmaceutical industry.  Political Donations that dump a lot of money into politics
        • Weapons – Dividing people.  People see division as a tool.
      • And yet another Group Exercise. 
        • Quest - End homelessness
        • Threat –
        • Heroes - Homeless Students. 
        • Heroes Tools – working together.  Coalitions.  Money.  National alliance of social workers code of ethics.  Workforce development so jobs are available.  Laws are tools. 
        • Villains – Funding to the educational system.  Property owners – NIMBY and the real estate lobby.  Landlord lobby.  Blackstone hedge fund.  
        • Weapons – Division
    • Any time you are telling a story – make sure you are hitting all 6 parts of the narrative.  Make sure heroes are someone relatable.  Try to see if you are bringing the right parts out.  Be repetitive.  Say the same thing over and over again.  We need a common set of narratives.  We want our vision to be as strong as the Free Market narrative. 
    • James – like to be open to all different perspectives – and we appreciate you being upfront about the liberal bend. 
    • I read and enjoyed Joseph Campbell’s  – “The power of myth”.  ( )– really enjoyable.         


Legislative Wrap-Up

  • Cynthia Stewart, League of Women Voters -
  • Glad the session is over, it has been grueling (interesting word, grueling.  Originally coming to English in the 14th Century from the French gruel – meaning “grain that was ground”. Gruel is the rather bland cereal, and found a place in prisons, where in the 18th century it got some legs as a verb meaning to take one’s punishment.  I’m going to guess Cynthia meant all those meanings – a session that was bland, monotonous, and punishing, and yet nourishing. –ed)   
  • The real story of homelessness is economic inequality – what we have the hardest time attacking.
  • The legislators came to  the session with a wide range of understanding.  Some know a lot about homelessness, but most know very little.  They thought something needed to be done, but didn’t know the basics.  We were trying to get the legalization through by folks that didn’t really know much.
  • Another problem is that many local jurisdictions have not adopted affordable housing comprehensive plans. (maybe we’ll just get lucky and the affordable housing crisis will just go away…-ed)
  • We have a lot of fear of the visible homeless, but not an understanding of the bulk of the homeless.  We saw that misunderstanding in the legislature.
  • The data – Michael Yoder from AM did a good job in his recent editorial in the TNT ( )about the inaccuracies of the Point in Time count ( ).  Coordinated Entry data is much better than the Point in Time count data.  With the Point in Time County, there can be a misunderstanding that homelessness going down, but it isn’t.
  • At session, there was a $4.5B deficit to keep current levels of service up, in spite of forecasts of good economic growth.  The possibility of increasing revenue by the Capital Gains tax was discussed – as a revenue generator and something that would fund more.  It was desirable because it  doesn’t expand our regressive tax system (a good article about the regressive tax system at -ed.)
  • The legislature ended up passing some categories of legislation
    • Housing
      • house bill 1406 ( ) – allow jurisdictions to retain some of their sales tax.  It is small - but meaningful.  But have to pass .1% for affordable housing or the mental health tax.   
      • $175M in the housing trust fund – good money, but it takes years to play out. 
      • Use of real estate excise tax – a progressive tax – that tax will go down for 90% of sales, but for people at higher property tax values, it will generate some more revenue.  At least that is a change in the tax structure.  local governments can use this tax for affordable housing, but they are currently using this money for parks and other public good.
    • Non-traditional housing
      • Tiny house developments
      • Comprehensive planning – providing incentives to add density for affordable housing
      • Planning grants
      • Allow churches to use their property for housing
    • Landlord tenant protections on behalf of the tenants
      • Allow more time for overdue payments
      • Changes in eviction law
    • Youth experiencing homelessness
      • Expansion of McKinney-Vento supports
      • Grants to support students
      • Supports at community colleges for homeless students
      • Use of hope centers
    • Not passed
      • Support for transit for folks experiencing homelessness
      • More state funding for transit since local areas won’t raise their own taxes for transit
    • With the deficit looming, we did well, but we need to do so much more
    • Where do we go from here?
      • County – Need to pass the Mental Health tax. 
      • League – doing study of affordable housing and shelter needs that will allow more action. 
      • Need to do a lot more work in getting the word out to the public that this issues isn’t a “Seattle is Dying” (in case you haven’t yet seen this - ) issue – the public needs to understand the issue much better before we make any progress.
      • Need to educate the law makers much better.  Many came in that didn’t have a clue.  There were some real heroes- Michele Thomas of the Washington Low Income Housing alliance.  There were some legislative heroes who need to be thanked, but the rest need education, and that is our job.
      • Really need to get the legislature to adopt fairer taxes. 
    • Theresa- we’ve missed you, and thank you for being in the trenches that whole time – you made things happen that wouldn’t have without you there. 
    • Cynthia - I just received the Citizen of the Year by South Sound Magazine ( ).  I have to make a speech at the awards ceremony, which made me reflect that there is nothing I could do without the whole team. 
    • If you are an interested voter about the .1% - there are 4 yes votes, 3 lean towards no – pam roach and mccune are not receptive to the tax increase.  Dave Morell – District 1, is on a fact finding mission – with AM, e-mailed the council’s assistant – took less than  a week to get an hour with them.  He is open to conversations.  If he is your council member, we’ll need a super majority – 5 to 2.  We are hopeful this won’t happen again.  If you are in boney lake or that area. 


Coordinated Entry  - update on access points -

  • Gerrit Nyland, Catholic Community Services,
  • Coordinated Entry is the front door to most of the homeless system – to access it you just have to be staying in your car or in a shelter or sleeping in a test or encampment, stayed last night in Pierce County, and be low income. 
  • Coordinated Entry starts with a conversation about strengths and tries to find options for folks to get safe using their own strengths and support structures.    
  • As coordinated entry is expanding its presence in shelters, there more new locations for coordinated entry
  • Used to just connect to coordinated entry through the Coordinated Entry Phone Line and through the outreach workers going into encampments
  • Now, we have a number of drop in locations, including Nativity House Shelter, Tacoma Rescue Mission downtown shelter, the Catholic Community Services Day Center, and the Beacon Center Youth Shelter. 
  • Families can also connect to coordinated entry over the phone by calling 211. 
  • And the Coordinated Entry Phone line remains active at 253-682-3401, where appointments can be made. 
  • An update list of the ways and locations to connect to Coordinated Entry is at
  • The goal of this page is to answer the question of how to connect someone in front of you to the coordinated entry system in the most convenient way for the client.
  • In the future, we’ll be rolling out a program to partner with agencies working in the Cities and towns outside of Tacoma as well as the more rural parts of the County.  We need to better serve folks who becoming homeless who aren’t in Tacoma.

Good of the Order

  • Larry - Tuesday, May 28th (at 6pm at the Key Peninsula Civic Center - 17010 South Vaughn Road NW –ed.) hosting a community forum on homeless youth and youth in trouble – if you or your organization is doing anything in Gig Harbor or Key, please join us to tell us what you do, or what you’d like to do.
  • Andrea - The Tacoma Rescue Mission is converting a warehouse to be a shelter primarily for women – breaking ground next month.  We are currently cleaning out that warehouse.  I have 300 blankets in my jeep in packages out back right now – if you  need blankets, let me know.
  • Theresa – University of Puget Sound Operation Save - - annual student clothes and dorm item donation drive.

Coming Attractions

  • May 31st, Daily Meaningful Activity Committee Report out on current work, past accomplishment, and future plans. The Evictions Committee will also do a full report out on their last year+ of work.     
  • June 7th, County Assessor Julie Anderson will present on Voter Registration and the coming Census as well as United Health Care and The Coffee Oasis (I kind of overbooked this, so I might shuffle things around some)
  • June 14th, City of Destiny Awards – bask in the glory of the Coalition’s recognition
  • June 14th, Still need to schedule someone – maybe you?
  • June 21st, Youth focused presentations, including an update on the ACT youth initiatives
  • June 28th, Wellfound Behavioral Health Hospital - program offerings and how to connect clients to services
  • July 5th, No meeting
  • July 12th, Is following a click-bait link always a personal moral failing, or will the “5 beverages that boost your brain health” be just the game changer you need?  Our panel of experts will guide you through the dangers and joys of predatory journalism, including 5 reasons why you can’t stop clicking on click-bait, and if we are lucky, the shocking meaning behind the Kardashian Kids’ Names.

Restaurant Review

When I think of Mexican Restaurants in Tacoma, I always think of Moctezuma’s (4102 South 56th Street, Tacoma, WA  - ).  It isn’t the most authentic Mexican cuisine in Tacoma, but it does make me happy when I go there.  While Moctezuma’s is getting to be a bit of a chain – there are 4 of them now, they never feel that way.  And, having frequented their hole-in-the-wall location off 56th and South Tacoma Way in my youth, I like to think we grew up together (they now have a much larger building of their own, though still in spitting distance of their more humble beginnings).  While their menu is huge and has all the tex-mex items you’d expect – yes, they have some pretty amazing fajitas - they also have lots of nods to more traditional Mexican food.  No, the street tacos aren’t quite like a taco sold on the actual streets in Mexico, no matter what the menu says.  But the tacos are made with fresh ingredients on house-made tortillas – and are worth eating any day of the week.  They used to do this traditional chicken pipian (a red sauce made from dried chilies and ground pumpkin seeds) that I fell in love with.  It is off the menu now, but I still make that bad boy at home (and my own vegan version that rocks, if I do say so myself).  I appreciate a place that teaches me a traditional dish I’d just never bumped into before.  And Moctezuma’s is great for a big crowd.  As cheesy as it is to say, they have a little there for everyone.  If your work team doesn’t enjoy a lunch at Moctezuma’s, I’m not sure what to say.  And while the restaurant is huge, expect a bit of a wait at the peak dinner hour (well, peak Tacoma dinner hour – full at 5:30pm, but room available at 7:30pm).  Lunch is busy, but doesn’t usually involve a wait.  Their drinks are definitely on the opulent side – just what you’d expect.  Anyway, next family birthday, head on down to Moctezuma’s.  You’ll enjoy the meal, and you’ll have some leftovers for lunch the next day – a solid winner in my book.     


  • Christina Valera, Juvenile Rehabilitation
  • Daryl Daugs, Community Member
  • Jeremy Walker, Housing Advocate
  • Carolyn Weisz, University of Puget Sound
  • Carolyn Read, St. Leo’s Parrish
  • Martha Sheppard, Tacoma Salvation Army
  • Maureen Howard, Housing Advocate
  • Rosemary Powers, New Connections
  • Daniel Gross, Pierce County Aging and Disability Resources
  • Pat Steele, The Coffee Oasis
  • Bryan Green, Olive Crest/Safe Families for Children
  • Charleen Fitzgerald, Coordinated Care
  • Theresa Power-Drutis, New Connections
  • Brandon Ault, Catholic Community Services
  • Gerald Rosenbaum, Destiny Riders of Tacoma
  • Hanna Dike, Catholic Community Services
  • Vanessa Dowell, Catholic Community Services
  • Andrea Sanz, Tacoma Rescue Mission
  • Larry Seaquist, League of Women Voters
  • Cynthia Stewart, League of Women Voters
  • Gerrit Nyland, Catholic Community Services
  • James Pogue, Comprehensive Life Resources
  • Alison Cheung, FUSE Washington
  • Reiny Cohen, FUSE Washington
  • Alina Flores, Sea Mar Health Care
  • Shennetta Smith, Sea Mar Health Care

The Awesome CLR Table

  • Stephanie Glover, Comprehensive Life Resources
  • Nathan Blackmer, aka “the pretty one”, Comprehensive Life Resources
  • Greta Brackman, Comprehensive Life Resources
  • Charlie Chestnut – aka Carlos Castañon, Comprehensive Life Resources
  • Helen Hernandez, Comprehensive Life Resources