1. The Washington Low Income Housing Alliance (WLIHA) is a coalition of over 140 organizations encompassing everything from developers and direct service organizations to immigrant rights groups and faith-based chapters. Every year at the Conference on Ending Homelessness they bring together hundreds of advocates and staff from these organizations to learn new strategies and gain new tools in the fight to end homelessness. This year at the Greater Tacoma Convention Center we heard incredible testimony from all levels of the housing world on the power of advocacy to change minds and uplift lives.
  2. Washingtonians are already more active than ever in their advocacy. Speaking about the Washington Legislature's bill and budgets that effect housing in the state, Michele Thomas, Director of Policy And Advocacy at WLIHA, showed this slide demonstrating the record numbers of people who are contacting their lawmakers in Olympia:
  3. This shows the real momentum being built behind homelessness and housing advocacy. As more and more constituents have become aware of the housing crisis in our communities, they are stepping up and taking action to galvanize our legislature to act. Michele wasn't the only one reminding us to keep up the pressure on the legislature. State Senator Jeannie Darneille of the 27th Legislative District said in her keynote address that all legislators really want is to hear from their constituents.
  4. Of course, the conference would not have lived up to its name if it didn't provide solutions for ending homelessness. Homelessness in Washington State was once a rare and unusual thing, and it can be again. Bringing an end to homelessness is possible, and the tools to bring it to an end are already within our reach. The major solutions outlined at the conference were; investing $200 million into the Washington Housing Trust Fund to build more affordable housing units and ease the rent pressures for low income folks; prohibiting source of income discrimination by landlords against those with Section 8 housing vouchers; passing House Bill 1570 to preserve and strengthen homelessness services funding.
  5. But what kind of action should we be taking to make these solutions a reality, and what kinds of contact do representatives respond to best? For the answer to these questions, State Representative Nicole Macri of the 43rd District and WA Supreme Court Justice Mary Yu told us of the power of stories.
  6. Seeing supreme court justice Mary Yu speak at #coeh2017 this afternoon was so inspiring!
    Seeing supreme court justice Mary Yu speak at #coeh2017 this afternoon was so inspiring!
  7. Stories have the power to move issues from advocacy to law. At the panel on the "Drivers of Homelessness," Michael Anderson from the Center For Community Change spoke about the power of stories to connect people to shared values that inspire them to act. Values like "everyone deserves to live in a safe, healthy, accessible and affordable home." By telling the stories of people in our communities, we can leverage those shared values of what "home" means to each of us to build more support for the solutions we advocate for.
  8. You can make this happen today by sharing your own story at Firesteel, or sharing one of the many stories we've collected over the years of our neighbors experiencing homelessness with your legislators. You can also send letters to congress encouraging the passage of House Bill 1570, or to end source of income discrimination.

  9. Finally, the Conference on Ending Homelessness provided many resources for the attendees, including infographics and updates on future events. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for these events near you soon, for other ways you can help amplify the voices of Washingtonians without housing.
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