Deposit Reform Takes Effect

What you need to know:

  • Landlords will have to accept payment plans for the upfront costs to moving into a rental (security deposit, last month’s rent and non-refundable fees)
  • Payment plans are based off the length of the lease, and for leases six months or longer, the tenant payment plan can pay these fees and last month’s rent in installments in as many as six equal monthly installments. Renters can request a longer repayment plan with a landlord’s agreement.
  • The total cost of the security deposit and nonrefundable fees must not exceed one month’s rent, with the exception of a pet deposit
  • Pet deposits may not be more than 25% of your rent for one month and no other pet fees can be charged

The Seattle Department of Construction and Inspection will enforce this legislation and landlords who repeatedly violate it will face civil penalties. Call their help line to report violations (206) 615-0808.

We want to hear from you! Will you benefit from this legislation? Have you had trouble finding affordable housing in Seattle in the past? Click this link to tell us more.

2016 Social Justice Awards Breakfast

Our annual Social Justice Awards Breakfast was a huge success!

A sold-out room at New Holly Gathering Hall on Tuesday, November 15 helped us surpass our goal and raise more $38,000. This funding is vital to the work we do, and we couldn’t do it without the support of our sponsors and everyone who attended.

Revisiting some of the wonderful moments of the event, we gave out awards to a few of our most dedicated, enthusiastic, and resilient members and leaders. Joelle Craft received our Commitment to Justice Award. Roi-Martin Brown received our Grassroots Leadership Award. Robby Stern was recognized for his Years of Service. Maureen Caputo was presented the Deana Knutsen Award. Our Tacoma Leadership Team was given an Emerging Leaders Award for their work on ending Mass Incarceration.

We heard an engaging keynote address from Ron Sims. He read us a quote that makes note of the challenges we face ahead, “The devil whispered in my ear, you’re not strong enough to withstand the storm. Today, I whispered in the devil’s ear, I am the storm.” He told us about his time growing up in Spokane in the 40’s and 50’s when there were no laws against race discrimination. “People made it clear that I was not entitled to any equality whatsoever and they acted on that.” He told us not to dwell on the results of the election and that, “Strong people and people of morale character never retreat from their beliefs.” His passion, leadership and experience were evident in his time on the stage and brought the room to its feet at a very important time in the movement.

Click this link to watch his speech in its entirety.

Thank you to our sponsors:
Seattle Education Association
NARAL Pro-Choice Washington
SEIU 775
Washington State Association for Justice
Washington Federation of State Employees
Washington State Labor Council
AFT Washington
PNHP Western Washington
Sprague Israel Giles Insurance
SEIU Local 925
PTE 17
Fair Work Center
UAW 4121
People’s Action
Social Justice Fund NW
Uniting Generations
Teamsters 117
Councilmember Kshama Sawant

Why Doris Wilson is an Advocate for Universal Health Care

doris-wilsonOver 32 years ago I bought my condo in the Kirkland Totem Lake neighborhood. One buying consideration was the condo’s proximity to Evergreen Hospital and Medical Center (now EvergreenHealth), which is located within a mile of my home. Soon after my purchase in 1984, Pacific Medical Centers (PacMed) opened a Totem Lake clinic. I received almost all of my health care needs at one or the other of these two facilities, except for some specialties. When I retired from the University of Washington in 1993 to care for ailing parents, I continued to receive primary care at PacMed, my HMO, under the Secure Horizons option of my health plan, UnitedHealth.

As you may be aware, state retirees’ benefits are managed by the Public Employees Benefits Board (PEBB), and insurance premiums are deducted from my state pension.

Everything worked fine for me until PEBB ended its contract with Secure Horizons. I had to choose another health plan, and the only one which would offer Medicare Advantage coverage was Group Health Cooperative. So I now get my health care at Group Health facilities. It’s a good organization, and I’m getting good care… but eight miles from home at the Bellevue main facility and six miles away at the Redmond clinic, instead of next-door.

However, just 2-1/2 months under the new arrangement (but before I was established with a primary care doctor), I fell at home and injured my thigh. In great pain, it was a struggle for me to reach a phone to call 9-1-1 for help and a neighbor with an extra key for my condo to let the medics in. They asked me who my insurer was, and put me on a stretcher and into the medic van. I had to go eight miles into Bellevue to Urgent Care at Group Health, rather than next-door to EvergreenHealth. The medics dropped me off, and I had to wait for X-rays. By the time the X-ray was read, indicating no bone fractures, and I could be discharged, I had been given narcotics for my pain and could not take a taxi home alone. I was unable to reach my daughter in Seattle by phone, and my 86-year-old neighbor didn’t drive after dark, so I had no way to get home. Never mind that I could not manage the entryway stairs without assistance! My condition did not make it possible for me to stay overnight in the hospital. It took some pleading with the Urgent Care staff, but finally they allowed me to sleep there until morning when my neighbor could drive me home. I was trapped at home for three weeks, while (very competent) Group Health aides helped me to manage with showering and restoring my ability to walk somewhat normally, including up and down stairs.

With universal, single-payer health care, I could simply have been taken to the nearest emergency room at EvergreenHealth. My neighbor could have driven one mile after dark to pick me up.

When insurers make our health care decisions for us–where to get care and from whom–unnecessary cost and effort can be incurred.

So much for my careful consideration of choosing a new home in the vicinity of a hospital and thriving medical community! And, yes, I continue to pay real estate taxes which support EvergreenHealth’s expansion, and I vote for its management and development, rather than for GroupHealth, since it is in my hospital district. Go figure!

Surprise Billing

marketplace-billingEvery health insurance company is required to develop a network of providers so that its customers have access to doctors, clinics, and hospitals. The Affordable Care Act has expanded insurance enrollment for many previously uninsured populations. Washington CAN has been working with partner communities, the Health Benefits Exchange, and the Insurance Commissioner to improve the rules governing how the provider networks are serving the needs of the newly insured.

We face two major challenges: First, are the providers close enough to the patients to permit them to get to the doctor or hospital when they need to? Second, are the networks sufficiently diverse to provide adequate language access and cultural sensitivity to their new insurance customers?

Frequently, access is a matter of proximity – how long does it take and what does it cost to get to the doctor? Many of the new insurance customers live in areas where doctors have not traditionally located their practices. Can low-income people find their way to a doctor or hospital located in another part of their community or does distance provide a significant barrier?

Another issue we are advocating on is, if a low-income person can find a way to the doctor or hospital, will providers be able to communicate with them in their primary language? Will providers be sensitive to cultural differences? Will there be appropriate outreach to these communities so as to improve their participation in the health care system?

Both the Insurance Commissioner and the Health Benefits Exchange are reviewing these issues. The outcome of debates are uncertain, particularly given that the insurance industry is pioneering what they call “skinny networks” – networks that include fewer, rather than more, providers.

Housing Justice Now: Deposit Reform PASSES!

We’ve been pushing for months for the Seattle City Council to address the exorbitant move-in costs landlords charge tenants. In a housing report we published, high move-in costs were listed as the top barrier to finding affordable housing.

Monday, the Seattle City Council approved the bill that will put a cap on move-in fees and allow renters to pay installments. This is a huge win for Washington CAN! and for Seattle’s low-income communities and communities of color. We are so grateful for our members who stood in front of the council and put a face to this problem as they told their stories of rental struggles.

Councilmember Kshama Sawant championed this bill and her tireless efforts to push it through were admirable. The unanimous vote by council members sent a great message to the city that they recognize the housing crisis that’s happening now and they are here to do their part.

This bill goes into effect in 2017. We will have more details on how it will be enforced and what renters should know.

What the media is saying:

Seattle Times: City Council approves limits on renters’ move-in costs, taking aim at housing crisis

The Stranger: Your Next Landlord May Be Required to Offer You a Payment Plan for Deposits and Other Move-In Fees

Crosscut: Council makes life easier for renters, caps move-in costs

KOMO: Seattle approves plan to ease rental move-in fees

Seattle Weekly: Council to Vote on Limits to Renter Move-In Fees

My Northwest: Landlords lament: Council caps move-in costs for Seattle renters

Auburn Good Food Bag Program

IMG_4379The lack of access to healthy foods makes it difficult for families who remain in low-income, urban communities to maintain a well-balanced, nutritious diet. Statistics show a lack of access to healthy food can cause severe health consequences including physical and mental health conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Children who grow up in homes without enough food are at increased risk of illness, and of experiencing academic and psycho-social problems. Nutritional deficiencies and family stress both contribute to these outcomes.

Data from Communities Count shows social and health indicators across King County:

  • In 2013, 13% of King County households ran out of food and didn’t have money to buy more, up from 8% in 2010.
  • Foradults with income less than $35,000, food hardship increased from 24% to 38%.
  • In many South King County cities, close to half of all children participate in the Basic Food program.
  • In 2014, the number of King County households participating in the Basic Food program was still almost double the number in 2008, and close to 3 times the number in 2002.

The Auburn Good Food Bag program is working to eliminate some of the barriers communities experience in accessing food by offering a bag of local, organic fruits and vegetables worth $10 on the open market, for half price. The Good Food Bag is sold at the following locations.


  • The WIC Clinic

            Address: 901 Auburn Way N Ste A

            Day & Time: Fridays from 8:30 am – 1:00 pm

  • The Auburn Senior Activity Center

            Address: 808 9th St SE

            Day & Time: Fridays from 7:30 am – 1:00 pm

  • St. Matthew Episcopal Church

            Address: 123 L St NE

Day & Time: Sundays after services

2016 Summer Conference: Beyond Basic Needs

We’ve just set the date for our annual Summer Conference. This year our theme is “beyond basic needs.” It’s time for our community to push past being in survival mode and build communities where we all thrive! Join us and meet other leaders and members from across the state, learn more about our leadership council, get a chance to meet some of our board, and discover more about the power of grass roots organizing!

The Summer Conference will take place at the Double K Retreat in Easton, WA on Friday, September 16 through Sunday, September 18. We will have many more details in the coming weeks including information about transportation and what sessions we will offer.

Click this link to register

Double K Retreat

The Simple Truth About the Gender Pay Gap

Women make up nearly half of the workforce in this country. Yet, on average, earn less than their male counterparts. Women working full time earn, on average, 79 cents to every dollar a white man makes. For women of color, the pay gap widens considerably. Black women make 64 cents, American Indian women 59 cents and Hispanic women 54 cents to the white male dollar.

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 made it illegal to pay women less based solely on their gender, with other demonstrable qualifications such as seniority, experience or merit listed as the only reasons to enact differing pay scales.

More recently, the Obama administration issued an executive action that will require companies with 100 employees or more to report pay data broken down by gender. These new equal pay rules go into effect in 2017.

Meantime, at the state level, passing legislation for a higher minimum wage, paid parental leave, protecting pregnant workers and improvement of reproductive rights will bolster how women are valued in the workplace.

Washington Community Action Network for the Stand With Women Campaign

Cartoon 4

From trauma to civic engagement: Tacoma mom breaks decades long silence to protect vulnerable teens

by Roberta Riley

MykleAnn kept it bottled up all these years, the memory of the night she’d gone off to a party in Tacoma, looking for fun, and wound up getting raped.

She was just 14 years old.

Bloodied and bruised, she never uttered a word to anyone out of fear that if her father found out, he would kill the guy and end up in prison.

She became pregnant as a result of the rape. “Thank goodness Indian Health Services and Planned Parenthood were there for me when I needed help,” she reflects. “I probably wouldn’t have graduated from high school and gone to college if I’d been forced to go through with that pregnancy.”

Decades later, at midlife, MykleAnn is the mother of three. She works at the Muckleshoot Casino and lives in Tacoma, WA. Her father passed, never knowing of the trauma she bore alone all those years ago.

Recently, however, MykleAnn learned that a state senator from her area, Steve O’Ban, was sponsoring legislation to cut off Planned Parenthood funding and restrict the rights of teenagers to have abortions without involving their parents. She was outraged. Why would this senator endanger vulnerable young women with such restrictions?

She knows from her own painful experience that some teens simply cannot safely tell their parents. Fear of her father’s anger and violence literally kept her mute for decades. And so, on behalf of all the younger women who are too frightened to tell their stories, MykleAnn decided to break her silence.

She joined a group protesting outside of O’Ban’s office. “Women need access to birth control and abortion,” she chanted. She hoped for the opportunity to look this man in the eye, share her story and ask him to rethink his proposed legislation.

O’Ban did not come outside.

But MckleAnn didn’t give up. Recently, she attended a public forum for the 28th Legislative District of Washington.

Though O’Ban was invited, he didn’t show up.

But that didn’t stop MykleAnn. When the time came, she stepped up to the microphone and told her story. One could have heard a pin drop in the room as she choked back tears. Then, with the determination of a mother protecting her loved ones, she explained why it’s so important for teens to be able seek the confidential advice of trained medical professionals. As she spoke, a burden lifted and MykleAnn discovered her voice as a citizen.

Check out her video here

Candidate Forum Moderated from Behind Bars of Clallam Bay Prison

Candidate Forum 1

Lakewood, Wash. – Friday, June 10, 2016 – Thursday, Washington Communication Action Network (CAN) held a candidate forum for candidates running in the 28th Legislative District. The forum was co-moderated by Willie Nobles, a black man serving a life sentence at Clallam Bay Corrections Center and focused on criminal justice and gender equity issues. Nobles also leads college courses in the prison. Sonja Pitts, a black, formerly homeless social worker, co-moderated at the forum.

“This district is specifically challenged with economic, mass incarceration and gender equity issues that can be difficult to navigate,” said Washington CAN Co-executive Director Mary Nguyen. “We wanted to give voters in that district a more in-depth look at their candidates to help make informed choices based on these issues that are most important to the community.”

Although all candidates running in Legislative District 28 were invited, participating candidates included Paul Wagemann, Anne Giroux and Marisa Peloquin. Legislative District 28 encompasses several Pierce County cities including University Place, Lakewood, Dupont and a portion of Tacoma.

Candidates were asked questions from the moderators and also heard from storytellers about social justice issues and were able to respond.

“What would you do to protect women’s right to choose when they have families?” Nobles asked over the phone from Clallam Bay.

“As a man, this is a very difficult subject. I believe life begins at conception. So, if that’s the case, how do I protect that life?” asked Wagemann. “I can’t make that decision. I have to allow that individual, their doctor and their family make that decision.”

“Somebody tried to rob me here in Lakewood and hit me very hard. I went to a hospital close by and I got a bill for $15,000,” said storyteller Marco Ramirez through a Spanish interpreter. “They sent me to a collections agency and take money from my paycheck. I stay in a shelter and live in a lot of fear.”

“We need to do the right thing and protect our own,” said Peloquin. “It will protect and save lives and our dignity.”

This candidate forum supports the Stand With Women campaign that aims to update the rules with the basic idea that women should be equal participants in society and have reproductive freedom, equal pay and policies that support pregnant women in the workplace.

Sponsors: Washington State Labor Council, Post-Prison Education Program, Washington Environmental Council, NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, Economic Opportunity Institute, Black Prisoner’s Caucus

Watch a video of the forum here:

Legal Financial Obligations

LFOLegal Financial Obligations are the costs incurred by individuals convicted of crimes during the time they are incarcerated. Fees include court costs, fines and other legal assessments. They accrue at a rate of 12 percent and are issued at a critical time when individuals have served their time and are reentering society. LFOs trap families into cycles of poverty and debt, increase the risk of homelessness through ruined credit, and shift the costs of mass incarceration onto communities of color.

Some statistics about LFOs:

  • The average LFO debt in Washington is $2,500. With a 12% interest rate, consistent payments of $20 per month will NEVER pay off the debt.
  • Even when you compare people convicted of the same crime, which have the same criminal history, Latino defendants are sentenced to higher LFOs than anyone else.
  • Incarceration targets poor people. 80-90% of people charged with felonies in Washington are declared indigent by courts at the time of sentencing.
  • More than 114,000 people owe Legal Financial Obligations in the state of Washington.

Are you affected by Legal Financial Obligations or know someone who is? We want to hear from you.


Know Your Rights as a Tenant!

On Wednesday, April 12 we will hold a tenant’s right’s training course in the Federal Way area. Join us to learn how state law protects you as a tenant. We played a lead role in pushing for move-in fee reform that now allows Seattle renters to make payment plans for security deposit and last month’s rent. We are taking what we’ve learned from a successful campaign in Seattle, to bring tenant’s rights to Federal Way renters.

Some things we’ll cover:

  • Learn about state law regarding evictions and security deposits
  • Learn how move-in fee legislation was a game changer for Seattle renters
  • Come hear about our housing rights’ campaign that’s focused on bringing positive change to Federal Way area renters

When: Wednesday, April 12, 6:00 p.m.
Where: Woodmont Library, 26809 Pacific Hwy S, Des Moines, WA – Next to the Safeway
What: Tenant Rights Training & Discussion
Who: All are welcome!

Food and childcare provided.


The ACA is Under Attack

The House of Representatives is considering a proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act with a plan that will result in millions of Americans losing their health insurance. We know this is a scary prospect and very complicated to understand, but here are a few key points:

  • The plan will be particularly harmful to older health consumers and the poor.
  • The bill will force people to pay much, much more for, high-deductible insurance and blows a huge hole in state budgets.
  • It gives massive tax cuts to the very wealthy and drug and insurance corporations. It also defunds Planned Parenthood.
  • The Republican bill ends Medicaid expansion and slashes state funding for the regular Medicaid program by radically changing the way Medicaid is funded.
  • States will be forced to end coverage and eliminate health care services for seniors, people with disabilities, children and working families.

The House Ways and Means Committee has already approved this plan and Congressman Dave Reichert voted yes. 

We need to press against this! 

Please call Congressman Dave Reichert’s office and ask him to vote against the bill to replace the ACA. Reichert’s office phone in Issaquah is (877) 920-9208 and (202) 225-7761 in DC. (It helps to call both offices.)

We want to know how you’re feeling about this proposed bill. Tell us more here.

Lobby Day 2017

Lobby Day 2017 was a busy one for Washington CAN! We stormed the Capitol Steps in Olympia for Equity Day — a rally with hundreds of activists from two dozen coalition partners pushing for fully-funded education in an equitable and just way that doesn’t hurt those most vulnerable in Washington. It was moving, emotional and best of all LOUD!

Also on Presidents’ Day, we participated in a press conference with Governor Jay Inslee about health care. Our Board Chair, Deana Knutsen served as emcee, long-time health advocate and witness (at the White House) to the signing of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Gina Owens reminded us how important the ACA has been. New Spokane member, Courtney Anderson was brilliant storyteller as she shared her story of beating cancer twice. She reminded us that cancer is persistent and she fears being able to fight cancer off if it resurfaces again and she is no longer covered because the ACA was repealed by Republicans and Trump.

In all, they conveyed just how much repealing the #ACA would cost Washington state — as outlined by a new report from Health Care for America Now. The report, A Cost Too High, calculated the cost to the state being $18 Billion in lost federal funding, more than $2 Billion to doctors and hospitals and the cost to each Washington recipient eliminated from support to be $3,005 per year.

Where Is Your Heart?

We rallied outside Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ headquarters in Spokane on Monday, February 13th, to demand that she stand up to her peers and protect health care. We asked her WHERE IS YOUR HEART and tried to speak with her and tell her our stories of people who NEED their health care.

We prepared special presents for her — stuffed animals, each with a name and a story attached of an actual person who needs their health care. But, she was not there to hear from her constituents.

Rep. McMorris Rodgers and other Republican leaders are pushing to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would leave thousands in her district without the quality, affordable health care they deserve. #SaveTheACA