Policy Change: Your Donations and the Bigger Picture

By United Way of King County, on November 22, 2016 | In News

Your investments in United Way make a difference in the here-and-now through our programs like Reconnecting Youth and Streets to Home.

You also help create large-scale, system-wide change through our policy work. We’re proud to share a few updates with you.

What Happened Last Year

Our top homelessness success last year was the Homeless Student Stability Act. It passed!

What it does: This grant provides schools with much-needed support to identify and serve homeless students. It also encourages schools and housing providers to establish partnerships. Better partnerships increase access to stable housing for homeless students and their families. Funds are going to 15 school districts across our state.

The legislature also voted yea to creating the Certificate of Restoration of Opportunity. What a hope-filled name!

What it does: Thousands of Washingtonians with criminal records are not eligible to work in careers like cosmetologist, commercial fishing, and 90 other low-education, living-wage jobs that require state licenses. Even after they’ve served their sentences and reestablished themselves in their communities. Certain jobs are simply closed to people with criminal records.

The Certificate of Restoration of Opportunity is literally that—a certificate. When signed by a judge, it attests that a previously incarcerated person has demonstrated his or her rehabilitation and reintegration into society. Then they’re eligible to work in some of those jobs currently off-limits.

A job leads to financial stability, which is a big factor in preventing homelessness.

What’s On Our List For This Year

Our biggest homelessness ask of our state legislature is the reauthorization of the Document Recording Fee. The darn thing just keeps coming back! This fee is charged on some real estate transactions. It pays for most of the funding King County has for operating homelessness services, outside of federal grants. Huge.

Newbie legislation this year: the Legal Financial Obligations reform bill. If passed, it would stop high interest from accruing on defendents’ court fees and fines while they are in jail and keep people just out of jail, who have no ability to pay court fees and fines, from being re-arrested for falling behind on payments. When jailed for non-payment of fees and fines, people sometimes lose jobs, housing, and even kids to child welfare. Harsh penalties for non-payment. Then the cycle of debt and incarceration continues.

You’re helping us do good work. Energized for making even more change happen? Learn more about our public policy work.


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