UP#298 Social Equity and Urban Growth

Home » UP#298 Social Equity and Urban Growth

By City Councilmember Nick Licata

With assistance from my legislative aide Lisa Herbold.

Urban Politics (UP) blends my insights and information on current public policy developments and personal experiences with the intent of helping citizens shape Seattle’s future.

On the Monday evening of September 20th, I am hosting an event called Can We Achieve Social Equity Using Smart Growth?

People with the fewest resources and power often bear a burden from the impacts of urban renewal efforts in our neighborhoods. Too often they are forced to move out of their homes and leave behind neighborhoods that they helped shape because their rental housing is redeveloped or, if homeowners, they cannot afford the higher taxes that accompany increased property values from new development. Although in this time of slow economic growth new development is desirable, we must be conscious of what the untended consequences may be on our most vulnerable residents and local businesses.

Because growth advocates increasingly acknowledge the need to address social equity in their plans for urban growth, Seattle has an opportunity to achieve a vision of truly sustainable communities that empower and consider the needs of people who are recent immigrants, other people of color, low income, homeless, or face other barriers that serve to marginalize their voice in civic discussions about how we grow as a City.

Reducing reliance on single occupant vehicles by increasing density to allow more efficient use of public transit resources is one approach that can address the needs of all communities. But in pursuing this objective we must advance equitable policies that effectively meet the spectrum of needs for affordable housing and mobility, not sacrificing one goal for the other.

We should also look at what tools other cities and states are using to address promote sustainable, socially equitable growth. For instance, many cities in the nation including cities in Washington State, require a certain percentage of low income housing units in all new residential construction that comes before the city for approval when changes are needed in the codes or zones. Further, Massachusetts makes the state responsible for providing housing to all women and children who are homeless.

Seattle can learn from the experiences of others on what practical steps Seattle can take to make our urban growth work for everyone regardless of background or income level.  Local leaders and national experts in the fields of affordable housing, green jobs and social needs will share success stories of proven policies and programs. Breakout groups will be formed after the panel presentation to allow the audience to participate in drawing up proposals for practical next steps that the City Council and Mayor can take to promote the objective of growth with social equity.

Date, time and place of the Social Equity And Growth Forum:

Monday, Sept. 20, 2010, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Council Chambers, Second floor, City Hall

600 Fourth Ave, Seattle

The co-sponsors of this event are Councilmember Sally J. Clark, Housing Development Consortium, The InterfaithTask Force on Homelessness, The Displacement Coalition, Puget Sound Sage, Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness, Seattle Human Services Coalition, and The Washington Low Income Housing Alliance


1)      Connie Galambos Malloy, Urban Habitat Director of Programs

Connie will speak about how the living wage job/affordable housing mismatch in some regions undermine the carbon neutrality goals of sustainability advocates.

Urban Habitat is an organization builds power in low-income communities and communities of color by combining education, advocacy, research and coalition building to advance environmental, economic and social justice in the Bay Area. They envision a society where all people live in economically and environmentally healthy neighborhoods. Clean air, land and water are recognized as fundamental human rights. Meaningful employment honors a worker’s right to dignity and a living wage with benefits. Effective public transportation and land-use planning connect people to the resources, opportunities and services to thrive. Affordable housing provides a healthy and safe home for all. And quality education prepares visionary leaders to strengthen our democracy with new ideas, energy and commitment.

Connie Galambos Malloy previously led Urban Habitat’s Bay Area Social Equity Caucus. As Director of Programs, Connie leads the organization’s climate, transportation, land use and affordable housing work and advances UH’s agenda on key partner coalitions.

2)      Professor Dennis Keating

Professor Keating will speak about how new development and higher rents on one or two or three properties can set off price increases on surrounding older properties.

Professor Keating is a Levin College Distinguished Professor. He holds a joint faculty appointment in the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. He is Director of the MUPDD Program. He formerly served as Chair of the Department of Urban Studies, Director of the Office of Student Services, Acting Director of several graduate programs, and Associate Dean of the College of Urban Affairs. Dr. Keating is currently President of the Housing and Built Environment Research Council of the International Sociological Association. He teaches courses on housing, neighborhood development, urban planning, and land use law. He co-authored a chapter in A Right to Housing (Temple University Press, 2006). His latest publication was a 2008 co-authored article on the First Suburbs Consortium of Greater Cleveland in Housing Policy Debate. In November, 2008, he was a featured speaker at the Ohio conference on “The Future of Fair Housing”.

3)      Sarah Treuhaft, PolicyLink Senior Associate

Sarah will explain the Equitable Development Tool Kit and tell us why it is important to use and how we can use it.

PolicyLink is a national research and action institute advancing economic and social equity. Founded in 1999, PolicyLink connects the work of people on the ground to the creation of sustainable communities of opportunity that allow everyone to participate and prosper. Such communities offer access to quality jobs, affordable housing, good schools, transportation, and the benefits of healthy food and physical activity.  PolicyLink relies on the wisdom, voice, and experience of local residents and organizations to focus attention on how people are working successfully to use local, state, and federal policy to create conditions that benefit everyone, especially people in low-income communities and communities of color.

Sarah Treuhaft is an authority on the use of data and mapping in policy analysis, organizing, and advocacy. She works with local partners and coalitions to develop and implement equitable development strategies such as employer assisted housing and transit oriented development.











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