Our Voices Matter: Pack City Hall for Human Services Meeting

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Dear friends:

Please join community members, Human Service workers and providers, and me tonight, Feb. 20, at 6:00pm, as the Human Services Committee takes up the resolution directing how the City of Seattle will select its next Human Services Department director:

Human Services, Equitable Development, and Renters Rights Committee

Wednesday, Feb. 20, 6:00pm

Seattle City Hall,

Council Chambers, 2nd floor

600 4th Avenue, Seattle 98104

Free child care is available in the Sam Smith Room, also on the second floor of City Hall!

After Mayor Durkan nominated Mr. Jason Johnson for permanent Director of the Seattle Human Services Department (HSD), my office began hearing from community members and HSD workers who were deeply troubled by the Mayor having conducted no search for the position, let alone one that was inclusive of the impacted communities, human service providers, and department staff, fully aligned with the City’s stated racial and social justice principles.

Members of the community are especially unhappy that the Mayor has excluded these voices after having promised an open, inclusive search.

Seattle faces a huge and growing housing affordability and homelessness crisis. The for-profit market has no solution, and the city urgently needs a major expansion of high-quality publicly-owned affordable housing. We also need to fully fund social services. Neither is possible without taxing big business and the wealthy. However, because the political establishment has utterly failed to do that, it forces City employees and community providers to tackle this crisis with gravely insufficient resources. It’s especially vital in this context that the permanent HSD Director be selected with the full engagement of staff, human service providers, and community members.

The Human Services Department is our city’s social safety net. Every day HSD staff, working closely with community service providers, work to find shelter or housing for people, promote public health, and support domestic violence survivors, elderly community members, and youth. HSD staff work through the lens of racial and social equity, recognizing that communities of color,

immigrant communities, and LGBTQ communities are most at-risk in today’s housing and social crisis in Seattle.

The HSD director must be selected with the full engagement of staff, human service providers, and community members. That has not happened. As I said last month, it is not about any individual. The City Council must listen to community members and City employees.

As a result of so many HSD staff, providers, and community members speaking up, I have introduced Resolution # 31862 to the City Council, which if passed by the City Council, would return the nomination to the Mayor’s office and call for an open, transparent, and inclusive director search and nomination.

On Wednesday, Feb. 20, Human Services Committee members will take up this resolution. We also will hear from Human Service Department workers and from community members. Come let your voices be heard.

Please also see my response to a letter from the Mayor on this matter.

In solidarity,

Kshama Sawant