After more than 10 years as a social services counselor, Diane found herself in an almost unimaginable role reversal. With her 3-year-old son and teenage daughter, Diane moved to a family emergency shelter – one of the same shelters to which she referred her clients. How is the recession affecting the lives of economically vulnerable families raising young children in King County? To find out, Communities Count (a partnerhsip of City, County and other community partners) interviewed a diverse group of low- to middle-income parents.1 In this post, Communities Count explores the economic borderland that few middle-class parents ever imagine they will inhabit. From the perspective of this unfamiliar world, the essential role of social service benefits is examined in helping families work their way to self-sufficiency.
The City of Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative has published its first progress report to the community. The report is a comprehensive document covering the Initiative’s first two years of implementation. Included in the report is a description of the multiple strategies employed to prevent and reduce youth violence, stories of young people impacted by the Initiative, and the documented trends in the measures used to assess its progress. Initial results show juvenile court referrals for violent offenses and violence-related school disciplinary actions in select middle schools on a sharper downward trend than areas not being addressed by the Initiative.
With the release of new data showing poverty on the rise in Seattle and throughout the nation, government services are needed more than ever to help children, families and individuals from falling even deeper into poverty. This is the view of Desmond Brown in his recent article in New American Media.
United Way of King County is currently offering free tax preparation assistance at 18 locations throughout King County. Taxes are prepared by IRS-certified volunteers and e-filed for quick refunds. Tax sites can also prepare tax returns for up to three prior years, and help clients apply for Individual Taxpayer ID Numbers. Services are available in many languages. This service is provided in partnership with the City of Seattle and is for households making less than $50,000 in 2010.
For a list of times and locations visit this Web site.
Beginning on March 1, 2011, the Seattle Human Services Department will realign its operations to better meet the needs of constituents and the community. The work of former divisions including Youth Development & Achievement, Early Learning & Family Support, and Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Prevention will be restructured to become two divisions: the Community Support & Self-Sufficiency Division and Youth & Family Empowerment Division. The Community Support & Self-Sufficiency Division will encompass all of HSD’s programs that assist individuals and families as they work toward self-sufficiency. The Youth & Family Empowerment Division will take a more holistic approach to providing services from early childhood to young adulthood, including paths to post-secondary training – college, vocational training, apprenticeships into skilled trades, or other employment. For more details about these and other changes please read this special edition of Life Lines newsletter.
Household incomes shrank for a second year in 2009, as the recession eroded the share of American families earning more than $100,000 and swelled the ranks of people who are poor or barely making it. Income estimates out on Sept. 28 from the American Community Survey, a wide array of census statistics reported annually, show the recession’s effect on millions of families.
The median income of $50,221 is down about 4 percent from its peak since the recession began in December 2007. Median household income that year was $52,384. About $1,500 of that loss occurred last year. The story was no different in the Seattle area. In King County, the median household income was down 4.7 percent, to $67,806. Snohomish County households fared slightly better, slipping 3.1 percent to $64,658. The percentage of King County households making $100,000 and more declined from 32.2 percent to 31 percent, and the percentage of those making less than $25,000 increased from 15.8 percent to 16.7 percent.
For more details read this article in the Seattle Times.
United Way of King County’s “Basic Needs Indicators” have been updated with 2nd quarter data for most indicators and July data for unemployment. The economic indicators show the impact of economic conditions on people in our community and provide an immediate barometer of how people are faring during these difficult times. The indicators include unemployment, home foreclosures, emergency food distribution, requests for financial assistance and more.
Highlights of the update:
- Most indicators of need related to economic stress remain at elevated levels, but are no longer increasing.
- The unemployment rate is dropping slightly, and overall employment is increasing slightly, when adjusted for 2010 Census jobs. This reflects the slow economic recovery.
- Two indicators of need continue to climb: requests for rent assistance and public benefits caseloads.
- Requests for rent assistance may continue to increase as people remain out of work for longer periods, using up personal reserves, and as unemployment benefits are exhausted.
- Public benefit caseloads are still climbing mainly because people continue to stay on benefits as the job market remains difficult.
Continued access to local telephone service can be the difference between finding help and feeling isolated. The Washington Telephone Assistance Program (WTAP) offers eligible residents a low-cost landline phone for about $8 a month. If you, or someone you know, is receiving assistance from the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), you may quality for the WTAP program. For more information on the WTAP program or landline telephone services, contact the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission by phone (1-888-333-WUTC (9882)) or e-mail.
The Building Resilience Initiative invites applications for one-time grants of approximately $20,000-$50,000 each to support organizations or communities using innovative strategies to support adults and families who are struggling as a result of the recession. The Seattle Foundation is part of a group of philanthropic organizations called the Building Resilience Initiative that was formed in late 2008. The group is working together to respond to the recession in ways that help adults, families, organizations and communities cope with hardships and build strengths even in these tough times. The deadline for this Request for Proposals (RFP) is Nov. 1, 2010. For details, please see the complete RFP.