As Solid Ground’s primary advocacy partner, the Statewide Poverty Action Network leads our commitment to addressing the root causes of poverty through community-based, state-level policy and legislative advocacy.
A prevailing challenge of our work at Solid Ground is the alarming number of community members who don’t have the resources to meet their basic needs, maintain stability, and ultimately thrive. Even before the pandemic, deep poverty in Washington state was on the rise despite the booming economy, particularly in communities of color.
We believe that people most impacted by poverty and its overlapping oppressions know best what they need to improve their lives. But too often, these experts have been barred from the institutional access and power needed to make the required systemic changes. Poverty Action disrupts this dynamic by engaging people from across Washington state living in poverty, with a special focus on people at the intersection of poverty, racism, and sexism.
This work is supported in part by funding from the Communities of Opportunity Systems & Policies (COO), a partnership between King County and Seattle Foundation that seeks to meet communities where they are in their systems-and-policy-change journey and help move their work forward. COO recently awarded Solid Ground and Poverty Action a two-year grant to organize community members to strengthen our state’s safety net, including direct cash assistance to help families living on low incomes build stability and meet basic needs.
During the 2023 Legislative Session, Poverty Action supported eight community members as they prepared to testify before lawmakers about ways the state could better meet its residents’ most basic needs. This included 14 testimonies on six different bills. Additionally, Poverty Action worked with advocates, community organizers, lawmakers, and coalition partners to accomplish some big wins:
- Improved access to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) by allowing people to receive program benefits even as they save and earn slightly more income.
- Ended the state’s practice of forcing people with disabilities and very low incomes to pay back the state for benefits once they qualify for federal disability benefits.
- Authorized a community-based model of dental care, called dental therapy, that makes dental health more accessible to families living on low incomes.
- Expanded access to the Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC), a state tax credit modeled after the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), that provides up to $1,200 to families with low incomes by making it available to people who file as “married filing separately” – often domestic violence survivors – and giving people more time to apply for the credit.
To learn more about legislative outcomes of the 2023 session, read the 2023 Legislative Session Recap on Poverty Action’s blog.
Solid Ground envisions a community where all people have equitable access to the resources they need to survive and thrive. We’re grateful for partners like COO that share this vision for systemic change.
In addition to COO, we’d like to thank the following funders who made an impact last quarter in the Seattle/King County community by supporting Solid Ground’s work:
- Inatai Foundation (formerly Group Health Foundation)
- Windermere Foundation