On July 22, 2016, the CRUEDA committee will vote on the Source of Income Discrimination legislation that proposes to add protected class to existing ordinances that already make it illegal to discriminate against a prospective renter whose primary source of income is a section 8 voucher, to include a pension, Social Security, unemployment, child support or any other governmental or non-profit subsidy. The bill was discussed in Committee on May 24 and June 14. According to WA CAN’s 2016 Report Seattle’s Renting Crisis, “48 percent of individuals who pay for rent with Social Security Disability Insurance or Social Security retirement income said that discrimination prevents them from having successful rental applications. During this time, a few new issues came to light and three amendments have been identified that would reduce discrimination regarding source of income.”
Since May, my office has continued to work with stakeholders including but not limited to, Solid Ground, Washington CAN, Wellspring Family Services, YWCA, RHAWA, Low Income Housing Institute, Tenants Union, Washington Multifamily Housing Association, Columbia Legal Services, Housing Justice Project, and Interim Community Development Association (CDA), and YWCA Seattle.
The three additional policy amendments that we are considering tomorrow are:
1. First in Time
The First in Time amendment would replicate the best practices of many rental housing providers and prevent landlords from giving the applications of people with alternative sources of income a lower priority. If passed it will require landlords to review applications one at a time, on a first come first served basis. Under this proposal, landlords would be required to review each rental application it received. This amendment will advance the goals SOCR set out in its initial memo regarding new and increased source of income protections: Increase racial equity in housing and promote fair access to housing. It also creates a more objective process for landlords to use when reviewing rental applications to remove both explicit and implicit bias based on source of income status as well as other protected classes including race and gender.
2. Community Pledges
The Community Pledges amendment will ensure that tenants can fully utilize community resources to prevent eviction. The City provides rental assistance funding to community based organizations that then release those funds to individual households to help people seeking housing with move in costs and help people from being evicted. But tenants can’t access the funds because of landlords who refuse the pledges because of paperwork requirements (i.e. w-9 form, or rent ledger) and/ or concessions to prevent eviction.
3. Preferred Employer
In 2015, both media and community members reported that property offering discounts on deposits and other move-in fees to rental applicants who worked for particular employers, but not offered to other applicants. The preferred employer amendment proposed to ban these practices and eliminate the discriminatory effect of these programs. SOCR recently concluded that in some instances, preferred employer programs that provide discounts or other terms and conditions in rental housing to certain groups over others may constitute discrimination under Seattle’s Open Housing Ordinance (SMC 14.08). Data has shown workforce gaps exist in the tech sector, for example, based on gender and race, which negatively impact groups who are currently underrepresented in the tech workforce. Given Seattle’s high rents and increasing unaffordability, incentives and opportunities for certain groups over others may perpetuate existing racial, gender and other social inequities.
This Tuesday I released, with Councilmember Gonzalez and the Executive, the report on secure scheduling requested by the business community and commissioned by the City in May of this year. The report, developed by Vigdor Measurement and Evaluation, is based on a series of interviews, focus groups, and two large-scale surveys of workers and managers. The survey was designed in English and translated into Amharic, Chinese, Somali, Spanish, Tigrinya, and Vietnamese. More than 1,000 retail and food industry employees and 500 managers participated in the survey across the city.
The report summarizes hundreds of responses from workers and business managers from a number of industries, but focused on the retail and food service industries. The report covers a wide range of scheduling issues, including on-call scheduling, rest periods, and advance notice of shifts.
The key findings of the report are:
- While many Seattle workers report high levels of satisfaction with their work schedule, nearly half of survey respondents would sacrifice a fifth of their pay in order to secure substantive advanced notice.
- Unpredictable work schedules create serious financial and family hardship for some Seattle workers, with workers of color disproportionately experiencing shorter on-call notice and more frequent changes to their work schedules.
- 70 percent of workers have on-call responsibilities, with the majority of employees receiving less than 6 hours’ notice before they start work.
- Nearly a quarter of African-American and Latino employees reported that workplace scheduling has impacted their parenting or childcare responsibilities.
The Report will be presented to my committee this coming Tuesday, July 26th at 9:30am. If you haven’t done so already please sign up to receive my committee updates here.
Honoring City Archivist Scott Cline
The longtime City Archivist, Scott Cline, will soon be retiring.
Scott has been an invaluable resource for constituents, researchers and Council staff since founding the Seattle Municipal Archives 31 years ago.
His retirement event will be on Monday, July 25 in the Bertha Knight Landes Room on the main floor of City Hall, at 600 4th Avenue. The event runs from 11:30am to 1:30pm, with the program beginning at noon.
In-District Office Hours
I will be at the Southwest Customer Service Center (2801 SW Thistle St.) on Friday July 29th from 12:00pm – 7:00pm. The final meeting will be at 6:30pm. These hours are walk-in friendly, but if you would like to let me know you’re coming please email my scheduler Alex Clardy (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Join me for the West Seattle Grand Parade
This Saturday, July 23rd, join me for the West Seattle Grand Parade. We’ll be meeting at 44th and Lander at 11:00am