Town where you live
Experience (300 characters max)
Outreach Director - Raise Up Washington 2016
Appointed Member - Seattle Housing Levy Oversight Committee, 2014-2016
Executive Director - Tenants Union, 2011-2014
Housing Advocate - Solid Ground, 2006-2010
Housing affordability, police reform and immigrant rights
The single most critical issue facing the City of Seattle is the affordable housing crisis, and its related issue, our homelessness crisis. I have the boldest housing platform of any candidate in position 8. I am calling for 25% of all new development to be affordable to working people, raising the top corporate tax rate (while raising the exemption for small businesses) to fund construction of 5,000 units in 5 years of deeply affordable public housing, granting collective bargaining rights to tenants and the creation of the Office of the Tenant Advocate.
The recent police accountability legislation is a step in the right direction to provide civilian oversight of the police department, but there is more work to be done. We must establish a complainant appeal process that allows for the community to draw lessons learned from incidents where civil rights and/or community expectations of our police department were violated, even if the disciplinary process failed to provide a sanction for that behavior. We must also establish independent external investigations of serious uses of force, consistent with recommendations of the 21st Century Policing Commission. We can look to Snohomish County for one example of how this presently works in this state. We must demand an end to coercive interrogation techniques that produce false confessions and erode confidence and trust in our police department. All police union negotiations around discipline should be opened to the public.
Additionally, we must require our City Council to step up to the plate in using its budget authority to support positive policing changes SPD has already embraced, while precluding problematic practices that injure or harm people. Our City Council must expand funding for effective policing practices like the LEAD program. At the other end of the continuum, the Council should proviso the SPD budget to prevent use of blast balls for crowd control.
There is an ongoing legacy of segregation in our city created by exclusionary practices like redlining and racist housing covenants. Right now in Seattle, a white middle-class renter or homeowner can choose to live in South Seattle, but a black low-income resident does not have the same access to housing options in North Seattle. Severe lack of affordable housing options in every neighborhood in the city are pricing folks out, especially communities of color. We must ensure that as our city grows, we are massively investing in affordable housing options for all our neighbors. My platform would call for increasing the Mandatory Housing Affordability requirement to 25% and requiring corporations to pay their fair share in taxes to fund deeply subsidized affordable housing.
The standard I use to determine “affordability” is the 30% of income standard. This standard means that no matter your income level, you do not spend more than 30% of your monthly income on housing. One challenge we find in building affordable housing is setting rents in relation to area median income (for example, targeting housing to those making 50% of the AMI). However, in a city with a median income of $80,000 and rising, we need to adjust this standard to ensure that we are still building workforce and low-income housing. My proposal to use revenue from a corporate tax increase to pay for affordable housing would address this concern, as well as adding family-size housing.
At the core of my tax proposals is an emphasis on moving to progressive taxing options. Washington has one of the most regressive tax systems in the nation; it’s time to change that. I am supportive of the high-earners’ income tax as it is time to challenge the state ban on progressive income taxes. Seattle can lead the fight for the rest of the state. While I am supportive of the programs the soda tax seeks to fund, I wish the city had identified a more progressive taxing measure to do so. Moving forward, I propose looking at options like the corporate tax rate and the employee hours tax (head tax) to fund our city’s needs.
At the root of Seattle’s homelessness crisis is a lack of homes. We must absolutely invest in mental health and drug addiction resources; however we must also remember that many individuals with mental health issues or addictions have housing in the form of permanent supportive housing or other housing options.
First, we must increase the corporate tax rate to build thousands of units of deeply affordable housing. My proposal to build 5,000 units in 5 years would effectively end unsheltered homelessness in Seattle. Mounting evidence suggests that for most homeless people, short-term Rapid Re-Housing vouchers will not be a reliable bridge to stable, permanent housing in our region’s hot housing market. Only permanently affordable city-owned housing will be a long-term solution.
Second, affordable housing takes time to build and in the meantime we must invest in effective shelter options that address the diversity of individuals in the homeless community, including couples, families, youth, college students, people with pets, people living with disabilities, LGBTQIA people, immigrants and refugees, people with language barriers, domestic violence survivors, people with felony convictions, as well as people struggling with mental health and/or substance use challenges.
Lastly, we must stop the sweeps. Moving our houseless neighbors every two weeks while putting them at risk of losing their belongings is not a long-term strategy to get people into shelter. When housing cannot be offered, outreach and services should be provided without threat of removal, unless an encampment site is irremediably unsafe or in conflict with other public uses of the site. For truly unsuitable sites, we must inform people of alternate nearby sites where they won’t face removal. We must also offer support services that lessen the impact of homelessness on surrounding communities, such as garbage removal, sharps containers, pest control, and public restrooms.
I believe that urban livability is primarily determined by accessibility and equity. Do all residents have access to healthy food options? Do all residents have access to transportation options to transport them from home, work and leisure? Do all residents have access to parks, green space, arts and culture? Do all residents have access to thriving local small businesses? I would be open to a city-wide process to determine standards, but I want to be sure that such a process is heavily focused on equitable participation from diverse communities.
I support safe consumption sites in Seattle. It’s something we should have been doing decades ago. Other cities that have adopted these programs have dramatically reduced the number of opioid-related deaths and reduced the number overdoses. When overdoses do occur, there is someone on the scene who can provide medical attention to that person, resuscitate them and save their life. It is also demonstrated that rates of HIV infection and diseases dramatically drop.
The current safe consumption site strategy calls for one site in Seattle and another in another city in King County. We are seeing many municipalities in King County vote to ban safe consumption sites. We need to be proactive about opening a site in Seattle quickly so that we can demonstrate viability and safety to other communities. I would like to see a site open by June 2018, with funding allocated in the upcoming November budget.
It’s important that when we talk about public health and public safety that we are thinking about how these issues impact everyone in our community. While I recognize that some people may feel concerned seeing needles in their neighborhood, I would make the case that safe consumption sites will actively address those concerns. Bringing folks struggling with addiction inside, into a safer environment, improves public health and public safety for them and for others.
Town where you live
Experience (300 characters max)
Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO: Political&Strategic Director, 6/2015-Present, Government Affairs Director/Legislative&Policy Director, 1/2011-2015; Community Health Plan/Network of WA: Health Care Reform Specialist, 6/2010-1/2011; Children’s Alliance: Leg. Relations Director 4/2007-6/2010
Housing Affordability, the Homelessness Crisis, and Economic Stability for all.
We are facing a housing affordability crisis that is pushing our city to the brink. 1000 people are coming to our region every day and we need to make sure everyone can afford to live in the Seattle where they work, play, study, and retire. I’ve laid out a comprehensive plan to move Seattle forward which includes:
Move forward with the blueprint to create 50,000 new housing units—including at least 20,000 affordable homes—in the next 10 years and invest in additional publicly owned housing options now because alone this isn’t enough.
Work with communities of color and those who are most at risk of gentrification to create housing and development that is reflective of community needs.
Call for an immediate conveyance of publicly-owned, developable land parcels to be developed into affordable housing with affordable retail or community facilities (such as early learning programs), on the ground floor.
Prioritize housing dollars on transit oriented sites, such as Northgate, Roosevelt, and places near light rail and transit, to build needed affordable housing and walkable communities along transit lines.
Address speculation in the market – assess empty buildings/lots that are driving up the cost of land and not creating housing solutions.
Hold large developers accountable—if a new development doesn’t include affordable housing on-site, then get the fees immediately & reinvest in affordable housing options now.
Seek legislative change and set annual targets from the City General Fund and Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) income to invest in affordable housing, in addition to dedicated Levy revenue.
Expand investments in community land trusts, affordable co-housing projects, affordable housing co-ops, and incentivize accessory dwelling units where possible to create community and civic partnerships and win-win solutions to solve the crisis.
Work with Council and the Mayor to bond against our voter-approved housing levy dollars to fund more affordable development projects.
Help more low-income homeowners and seniors stay in their homes by increasing access to low-income and senior property tax exemptions or deferrals, and create more senior housing throughout our community.
Develop Social Equity Impact Statements to evaluate new developments to see how they will affect Seattle’s community, economy, housing affordability, & displacement.
Support Seattle’s Equitable Development Initiative to invest in our community infrastructure and cultural anchors.
While we’ve seen a decrease in use of force by police due to the community-directed reforms, we need recognize the use of force is still higher among communities of color and fear and mistrust is still prevent in our communities. When we invest in policies that promote trust through community-oriented policing solutions we can improve public safety, we will see the public’s health improve as well.
As your Councilmember I will:
Continue to advance multidisciplinary crisis teams, including mental health professionals, social workers, and crisis counselors as well as specially trained police officers to help de-escalate and deal with emergency situations.
Continue to support ongoing crisis intervention training, deescalation training and continuous implicit bias training that takes on issues of race – because the brain is a muscle and needs ongoing training.
Support an Independent Community Oversight Board to ensure community-driven solutions to promote trust with our police force – which is good for the public’s health.
I fully support transparency and accountability and support the CPC recommendations. The CPC recommends calling for technical advisors to be present during the bargaining process from the CPC, Inspector General, and Office of Law Enforcement Oversight, which I support and I am also calling for a community member to be sitting at the negotiation table.
One of the biggest things we can do as a city to stop displacement is to build the affordable housing our city needs now – for middle and low income families. I believe we need to look at affordable housing as a kind of social infrastructure we need to invest in as a city to ensure healthy, vibrant communities.
As your City Councilmember, I will work with community, small business owners, and community-minded, small developers to mitigate displacement for both low income and middle income families. I will champion efforts to create vibrant communities through publicly owned affordable housing options – such as co-housing and co-ops through Community Land Trust and in partnership with Public Development Authorities. I will champion additional affordable options in our city limits that create more housing such as back yard cottages, mother in laws, duplexes, and triplexes so more people can afford to live in the city, near their family, and near services and civic opportunities. I want to see development-done-right: more affordable housing near transit hubs, with accessible and affordable spaces for artists, small businesses, early learning centers, and community spaces around public plazas and parks.
Many low- and middle-income communities, communities of color, and our elders in Seattle are at risk of displacement. Displacement is a growing problem and some of our historic communities and long-time Seattleites are at risk of being priced out of their homes and neighborhoods. Many in our community who were affected by historic red-lining policies are now at risk again due to being priced-out of the community and pressured-out because of the lure of selling.
In addition to the housing proposal listed above, I am calling for additional support for renters (as more than 50% of Seattle residents are renters) as a way to protect tenants and promote housing stability: Support a Tenants’ Bill of Rights to protect renters from retaliation, toxic exposure, and improve enforcement to protect against discrimination. Pass rent stabilization policies to protect against surprise spikes in rent and unaffordable increases. Create more affordable housing to help increase the number of vacant affordable units throughout Seattle—more vacancies help reduce tenant discrimination.
For me, affordable housing is housing that allows residents to live in the same city they work. No one should be struggling to get by to pay the rent in our great, thriving city. We need to build housing, and affordable housing now for our middle and lower income folks. In addition to low income housing assistance for those 0-30%AMI, I would like to look at affordable housing for those above 30% AMI to 100% AMI.
Washington State has the most regressive tax system in the nation. We need to do everything we can to right side up our upside down system. For me, this means fighting for an equitable tax system that makes the wealthy pay their fair share into the tax system. I have testified in Olympia for a more equitable tax system and will continue to fight for working families in Washington. While this ruling ultimately needs to come from the state, I believe Seattle should be a test case to show our legislators that we can create a system that is fairer for the people of Washington.
Until this happens, we need to consider every revenue option we have available and make sure we create an equitable system that doesn’t further compound the affordability crisis we currently have. I am supporting the Income Tax, Capital Gains Tax, and would look at a head tax for large corporations in our city limit that might be able to help contribute to infrastructure needs (which is being used by our largest corporations in the city too!). These are much more equitable and logical ways to get revenue needed to the city instead of just the sales tax and property tax.
The combination of people working in insecure jobs, the lack of affordable housing options, and the unmet need for health related services (such as mental health, substance abuse and routine and acute physical health care) all create barriers to having economic security and a safe and secure housing. Many folks are homeless because they are falling through the safety net due to gaps in the foster care system, K-12 school system, and family and youth counseling services, among many other programs that don’t’ have the resources needed to serve our community.
As your City Councilmember, I will champion “housing first” models that provide a safe place to live, a warm bed, a shower, a PO Box, a place to rest and recover—a place to be safe first then allows folks to be more receptive to the treatment and case management that they may need. I want to see increased resources and services that provide permanent supportive housing and shelters for individuals, women, families, and seniors who may have co-occurring disorders. I pledge to work with my colleagues in the public health and human services to enact proven best practices so we can arrive at compassionate and health-based solutions for our homeless community.
Yes – I would support developing metrics. Urban livability should equate to healthy, safe, and thriving communities in our city core. I will champion efforts to create transit oriented housing, invest in our public transportation system, preserve and nourish our green spaces, tree canopy, and keep our streets clean and safe, as well as investing back in our community and providing small business owners the infrastructure to thrive. I want to make sure Seattle is walkable, which means creating safe sidewalks where there are none, connecting our bike trails and greenways, and creating smart solutions that promote walkable communities where we can thrive.
I would support measurable standards to make sure we are creating a Seattle that works for everyone, not just the wealthy few. I am proposing to develop Social Equity Impact Statements to evaluate new developments to see how they will affect Seattle’s community, economy, housing affordability, & displacement. These measures would affect all new developments and show our communities the impact they have on the surrounding community.
I support safe injection sites. The whole point of a safe injection site is to prevent deaths. As your city council pension, I want to make sure we are preventing preventable deaths. This is a public health solution to a public health crisis. Once an individual is in a safe site, then we can focus on detox and treatment. And, because not everyone is going to use the two new safe ejection sites, we must also continue to invest in outreach and education programs, needle/syringe exchange programs, overdose prevention education, and access to naloxone to reverse potentially lethal opioid overdose.
Seattle needs work with the community to talk about placement of Safe Injection Sites to make sure they are in neighborhoods where folks in need can access them. In order to overcome the opioid and heroin epidemic in our state, we need to reduce our dependence on painkiller prescriptions, access to opioids, and help our communities overcome addiction and treat it as the public health crisis it is. At the city level, we can take the steps needed to save lives and reduce addiction.