Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day 2024 was unforgettable. YWCA staff, volunteers, allies, and fellow housing advocates played a crucial role in the success of the event. Here are the happenings and highlights of the day.


housing advocates in Olympia
Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day (HHAD) 2024 advocates.

The people are unstoppable! Another world is possible!” is just one of the many rousing chants you would hear ringing through the air at the Capitol in Olympia. On January 30, hundreds of people traveled to Olympia from all around Washington to urge state legislators to take a bold stance in support of protecting renters, stabilizing rents, and increasing funding for social services and affordable housing.

Organized annually by Washington Low Income Housing Alliance (WLIHA), the day presents opportunities to meet hundreds of other advocates, take part in advocacy skill-building workshops, and meet with local lawmakers to discuss important housing and homelessness policy. This year was no different except that it was the first in-person HHAD since early 2020, so the excitement was palpable.

The day started at the Washington Center for Performing Arts where advocates and allies gathered to check-in, pick up day-of materials, grab the infamous HHAD red scarves, and enjoy a light breakfast of coffee/tea and pastries. While at the Center, advocates engaged in a workshop on the procedures of the legislature and heard legislative updates. Advocates were also taken through which housing-related bills would take priority this HHAD. Amongst the notable speakers were Michele Thomas (Director of Policy and Advocacy) and Duaa-Rahemaah Hunter (Statewide Organizer), both of WLIHA. Ma.Caroline Lopez (Director of Equity, Racial Justice, and Culture), also of WLIHA, passionately took lead teaching advocates a bunch of fun chants for the day.

After that, advocates took buses or braved the Olympia hills and walked to the Capitol to meet with their lawmakers. 45 of the 49 legislative districts were represented. Each of the 45 districts had advocates who shared their personal stories and experiences dealing with housing insecurity to state legislators and their staff to persuade them to enact stronger tenant rights and provide funding for more affordable housing. HHAD even had an impactful rally on the Capitol steps, with some legislative leaders speaking and lots more chanting.



At the top of the policy priorities list was rent stabilization and funding for housing and homelessness initiatives.

Rent Stabilization: HB 2114 and companion bill SB 5961

Enacting statewide rent stabilization would improve housing stability, prevent displacement, and guarantee that renter households can pay for other necessities. Rent stabilization would limit the annual rent increase for continuing renters to no more than 5% per year and provide other important protections for tenants. Rent stabilization would provide renters predictability and notice with more time to plan, while still allowing landlords to have enough to make repairs, keep up with costs, and make a profit.

Affordable Homes Act: HB 2276 and companion bill SB 6191

This act would provide permanent funding for the Housing Trust Fund and for housing for people with developmental disabilities. This legislation would create a new real estate transfer tax on properties that sell for over $3 million. By adding a modest 1% real estate transfer tax to the sale of high value properties, we can create a significant, ongoing fund source for the Housing Trust Fund to ensure a baseline of resources are available every year to build those homes. The act will also create a new program for affordable housing for people with developmental disabilities.



YWCA had special representation from the youth of the YWCA Willows After-School Program. YWCA’s Willows Shelter is an integrated set of youth and family programs and housing located in Rainier Valley, alongside Seattle Housing Authority's Holly Court Apartments. The location offers a variety of programs that include after-school education, emergency housing, and self-sufficiency support systems.

The Shelter Plus Care program provides wraparound services to support youth with life skills. As we build up our public policy capacity, we are incorporating youth-focused change-making skills and advocacy development into the site’s offerings. 

The kids, lovingly led by Hewan Schade, YWCA's Children's Services Program Manager, jumped at the opportunity to fearlessly speak with their legislative leaders. They were eager to share their lived experience to make an impact on issues that affect them. Angereen (age 10), Askari (age 9), Athena (age 9), Bona (age 10), JohnMichale (age 12), and Marlon (age 11) are the names of the six incredible kids who helped shape policy in Olympia that day.

So often, the youth are left out of the conversation or don’t know where to fit in – but not this group. They bravely made the trip to Olympia and spoke to their district leaders. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room by the time they were finished sharing their stories. Their passion and experience moved every single person in the room, including fellow advocates and legislators. Their stories will not long be forgotten, and they have definitely left a lasting impact.

YWCA Willows After-School Program youth on Capitol building steps.
YWCA Willows After-School Program youth on Capitol building steps.

See what the kids themselves thought about the day:

Askari: "My favorite parts of the field trip were eating lunch and when the senator said he was going to put our stories on the wall."   

Bona: "What I thought was cool about the field trip was when I was talking to our senator for the first time even though I was crying, I was still happy for myself because I was proud to stand up for other people."  

JohnMichale: "My favorite part was sharing my story even though it was emotional.  Also hearing other people’s stories even though it was sad.  I feel proud because the senator took our papers and put them on his wall."

Angereen: "I liked talking to the senator about homelessness because we were changing the world. We talked to the senator about protecting renters from rising costs, building affordable housing, and investing in homelessness services."

Athena: "My favorite part about the field trip was eating and doing the speech. When I did my speech, I felt proud."

YWCA could not be prouder of the great job done by these six remarkable kids.

legislative meetings
YWCA Willows After-School Program youth during legislative meetings.



All in all, HHAD 2024 was amazing. Its impact is far reaching and long lasting.

YWCA continues to advocate and push for policy priorities that will improve the well-being and rights of women, families, and all underserved communities. In this mission, we also need your help.

If you were not able to make this year’s advocacy day, you don’t need to wait for next year's — you can get engaged right now with YWCA’s digital advocacy and public policy program to dismantle the structural barriers to equity in Washington as soon as today! There are plenty of opportunities for you to take action and use your power. 

Here are some ways you can start:

  • Firesteel Monthly Newsletter - Subscribe to the monthly advocacy newsletter for a round-up of concrete ways to take action and timely information that you can use to effect change.
  • Firesteel Action Center - Join the fight by taking action on campaigns to help eliminate racism and empower women. Your action and your voice make the difference.
  • Action Alerts - Sign up to receive Advocacy Alerts for text message updates and advocacy opportunities.
  • Legislative Bill tracker - Want to know where the bills we're supporting this legislative session stand? Check them out here.

Want to learn more about our legislative priorities? Read here and meet our policy team.

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Tapiwa Jere is the Digital Advocacy & Engagement Specialist. She helps reach and mobilize our community members to take action in support of YWCA’s public policy goals using cutting-edge digital advocacy tools and technology platforms.


We tell the stories of those with lived experiences of racism and sexism and invite supporters to take concrete actions to correct the root causes of disparity in our communities.

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Tue, 02/20/2024 - 16:23
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