News

BMAC helps people stay in homes with repairs, replacements



Often a few repairs are what is needed. Some small, some large, BMAC can provide help for those who qualify. BMAC offers a deferred loan program to qualified applicants needing those home repairs.

Terry Keller, assistant housing director, said there are two components to the Home Repair Programs, offered as funding allows.

One part is funded by the city of Walla Walla and is only for those living within the city limits.

Another section is state-funded by the Department of Commerce and applies to outlying areas, as well as Walla Walla, Columbia and Garfield counties. “Everything around us is covered,” Keller said.

“In a nutshell, both programs have the same rules, you have to be low income and qualify by filling out a lot of paperwork. Once you’ve passed the qualifying stage we do an auditing of the home to assess what’s needed: a new HVAC system, plumbing — or if you have a leaking roof. We want to keep people in their homes,” Keller said.

The cost of a new roof or the replacement of an HVAC system can be quite high, but the result of not addressing the problem can be worse.

“These are not grants, these are loans,” he said. “A lien is put on the home. It doesn’t ever come due.” The lien goes with the house when it is sold, to be paid by the purchaser. Then money goes back to BMAC where it is made available for more repairs.

The response to the repair program and deferred loan option has been very enthusiastic. “We’ve had a huge response inside the city, more than outside. With COVID, everything shut us down. We are just starting now to safely visit homes. Honestly, people didn’t want us in their homes and we didn’t want to be there either,” Keller said.

Things are picking up now, home visits are ongoing and the response to the program is gearing up, pandemic or not. Keller said he is more optimistic now that he’s seeing things improve.

“In March and April things were pretty fragmented. I see it getting back together. We have the PPE, people feel more comfortable. We stay 12 feet away, our clients are senior citizens, we have to protect them. We have remote wash stations in our vans. It’s getting a lot better. At the food bank I used to see lines of cars. Now it’s running like a well-oiled machine. I’m seeing shorter lines. I think there was panic in the beginning but we’re getting along. It’s getting better.”


Black Lives Matter 4

Blue Mountain Action Council (BMAC) stands with The Washington State Community Action Partnership in its belief that:

“Black Lives Matter and stands with those taking that message to the streets against a racist system of policing. The endless cycle of violence in our country, rooted in our original sin of slavery, must end. Washingtonians, especially White Washingtonians, must commit to unlearning Racism and dismantling White Supremacy in service of Racial Equity. Justice and peace will only come through our commitment to these principles and by following the leadership of Communities of Color. If we fail to take action rooted in this reality, then unrest and the despair of poverty will continue to fill the vacuum of moral leadership.

While this is far from a complete list, we say the names lost to racist policing and vigilante violence emboldened by Systemic Racism: George Floyd, David McAtee, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo, Martin Luther King, Jr., Emmett Till. Our hearts go out to the families and communities whose grief can only be staunched with justice.

America has failed to confront Systemic Racism not because the solutions aren’t available to us. Black and other Communities of Color have raised the alarm against over investment in incarceration and militarized policing for decades. Elected leaders and advocates must embrace new perspectives and harness the will to radically redirect resources toward the real building blocks of equitable, thriving communities: housing, food security, health care, education, jobs, and more. Nothing short of this is necessary to end Racism and build community resilience against intergenerational poverty.

Furthermore, as the first state impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic, we recognize Systemic Racism has exacerbated the health crisis and contributed to unrest. Black, Latinx, and Native communities have gotten sicker and died at higher rates than White communities. Black unemployment in Washington was at least twice that of Whites before the Pandemic and all indications are that the gap is widening. Asian-American communities, especially Chinese American and East Asian peoples, have experienced racist violence and decreased patronage of their businesses”

Now more than ever BMAC is called back to the promise of community action agencies and our roots in the Civil Rights Movement and the War on Poverty. These dual influences mean that we are tasked with challenging racism and classism through education, advocacy, and legislative change focused on economic and racial equity. BMAC plans to engage more fully in anti-racist work by focusing on improving our capacity as an organization. We will complete the following tasks in 2020:

    1. Complete an anti-racist education and training for board members and staff
    2. Complete a critical review of hiring practices and Human Resource policies
    3. Complete a program evaluation to identify and remedy barriers to equitable service
Our work will not end here. A critical evaluation of our capacity to serve people of color and maintain anti-racist policies is a vital first step toward engaging in broader community and state-based anti-racist work.


Adopted by the BMAC Board of Directors on August 27, 2020

Written by Annay, a BMAC AmeriCorps 2020 Member. Published on washingtonservicecorps.org.

Annay post

My name is Annay, and I am an Americorps member serving at Edison Elementary School in Walla Walla, Wa through Washington Service Corps. Unfortunately because of Covid-19, we had to shut down the schools! As I saw my students come by the school for lunches and homework we would talk about how they were managing their homework at home. While some students struggled with Spanish homework for the most, they then approached me for tutoring so I came up with an idea of helping with homework virtually! 

How amazing to see their growth even without seeing progress on a day to day basis. For example, I had a student who was struggling with completing her homework packet. She would leave out the reading portion which was in Spanish. By the end of the school year we improved her reading fluency and comprehension to where she was able to complete the reading section on her own with little help! 

While tutoring online was fun I was also informed that some students didn’t have a way to be in my virtual tutoring sessions. To reach them, I would take precautions and tutor in person from a distance. For example, one of my fifth graders found it difficult to do her homework. By tutoring outside, we got through her homework making it possible for her to learn in her own space. Knowing that I was able to make a difference through my students through the end of the year made me feel successful to help my students achieve their academic goals.

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin
July 15th

More free face masks will be given out Thursday at three locations.

The reusable cloth masks, meant for local residents who can’t afford to purchase the state-mandated facial coverings, will be distributed from 9-11 a.m. at the following spots:

  • Lions Park, 2100 Tacoma St.
  • Washington Park, 700 W. Cherry St., near the splash pad.
  • Lincoln High School, 421 S. Fourth St., front entrance

Blue Mountain Action Council is again heading the distribution of about 3,000 masks, said Kathy Covey, executive director of the nonprofit.


The face coverings are part of the 36,000 masks received by Walla Walla County Emergency Management, the county’s allotment of the 3.6 million masks procured through Washington state on behalf of residents with low incomes.


That amounts to about $52,400 a year for a family of four, though income verification will not be required for the giveaway.


The goal is that each person in those households get two of the free masks, so that one can be washed while the other is in use, Covey said.


The face coverings are packaged into baggies that will also contain information on filling out the 2020 census forms, she added.


Census work had come to an almost complete halt, with plans for community outreach — like a fairgrounds booth — largely stopped by COVID-19. But workers are continuing to call families to remind them of the importance of completing the forms, Covey said.

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BMAC Food Bank: A quick COVID-19 response report for April 2020.


During the last month (March 21 to April 18) BMAC has directly provided 9,653 people with 93,678 meals worth of food. On average that is 3.5 day’s worth of food per person served once per week.

In Walla Walla County, BMAC is now directly providing 3.5 days of food assistance to 5% of the population every week. Three other pantries are also operating in Walla Walla County and receiving food from BMAC.

In Columbia County, BMAC is now directly providing 3.5 days of food assistance to over 10% of the population every week. No other pantry is currently operational in Columbia County.

On April 18th 2020, BMAC and the National Guard served 647 households almost 30,000 pounds of food. Packed in the April 18th box (as shown to the right) was bananas, grapefruit, asparagus, tomatoes, tuna, peanut butter, sweet potato fries, onions, potatoes, oranges, frozen peas, split peas, spaghetti pasta, spaghetti sauce, canned mixed vegetables, grapes, toilet paper, raisins, bread, canned pork, pretzels, and orange juice. Boxes change weekly. 

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BMAC Food Bank with the National Guard is now completing weekly food distributions as follows.

Walla Walla Drive Through Food Bank
Every Saturday from 11:00 AM -1:00 PM
Location: BMAC Food Bank, 921 E. Cherry St. Walla Walla, WA 99362

Dayton Drive Through Food Bank
Every Tuesday from 2:00 PM -4:00 PM
Location: Columbia County Fairgrounds

Burbank Drive Through Food Bank
Every Wednesday from 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Location: Burbank Grange, 44 N 4th

Touchet Drive Through Food Bank
Every Wednesday from 1:00 PM - 2:00PM
Pomona Grange, 1st and Touchet-Gardenna Rd


BMAC anticipates conducting weekly drive-through food distributions in Prescott soon. 

Hours

Mon-Thurs: 
8:30am to 5:00pm
Fridays:
8:30am to 4:00pm
CLOSED daily from
12:00pm to 1:00pm




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