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LGBTQ Inclusive Services in Homelessness Services & Ingersoll Report; Council Passes ADU Legislation; Wildfire/smoke preparation; DNDA Funding for Delridge Way SW Improvements; In-District Office Hours

LGBTQ Inclusive Services in Homelessness Services & Ingersoll Report

Last year I sponsored a Statement of Legislative Intent that requested Seattle’s Human Service Department  (HSD) to submit guidelines to make sure that the providers with whom the City contracts are offering services and have policies that are inclusive of LGBTQ recipients of those services.  The experience of homelessness is incredibly exposing.  Given the persistence of heterosexism, transphobia, and cis-sexism in our society, as well as the disproportionate representation of people in the LGBTQ community experiencing homelessness, my goal was to ensure that our shelters and social services are accessible, safe, and responsive to LGBTQ community members needing these services.  I was inspired to spearhead this issue by the advocacy of Gunner Scott, at that time with the Pride Foundation.

HSD partnered with Ingersoll Gender Center to develop recommendations to improve shelter conditions for transgender and gender diverse communities in particular. National homeless data shows that transgender and gender non-conforming adults are more likely to experience unsheltered homelessness than cisgender people. Other sources point to as many as 20% of transgender people experience homelessness at one point in their lives.

Ingersoll is an organization that provides local expertise in advocating for transgender and gender diverse communities. Ingersoll’s “Improving Conditions for Transgender and Gender Diverse Communities within Seattle Shelter Systems” report notes:

“Transphobia, like other types of gender based oppression, is rooted in sexism and white supremacy that has deeply impacted any sense of trust between our communities and systems of government. That deep distrust paired with the specific challenges of the current homelessness response system in Seattle results in a not uncommon decision for many in our communities to sleep outside rather than face the violence they experience when accessing shelter and services.”

The major recommendations of Ingersoll’s report responded to the primary goals highlighted in my SLI:

  • ensure the right to self-identify during intakes at a shelter and provide the correct gender and name that may be different than what is provided on an ID isn’t a barrier to receiving services;
  • allow intake assessments to include conversations about sleeping arrangements and bathroom options that offer private options and accurately reflect someone’s gender identity;
  • proposing a system to track the direction and number of referrals to different services and agencies based on gender identity before exiting homelessness or the shelter system; and
  • reflecting a National Center for Transgender Equality (NTCE) 2015 study that shows that one in four Black transgender people “avoided staying in a shelter because they feared being mistreated”, requesting improved data tracking of multiple identities, like gender and race, to learn how our shelters are producing inequitable outcomes for Black transgender people.

These recommendations provide a “targeted universalist” approach which is a philosophy that focuses solutions on communities that are impacted by compounding levels of discrimination. By responding to specific barriers faced by the trans- and gender nonconforming communities, I believe these recommendations can produce beneficial outcomes for the entire homelessness community.

I applaud this report for taking a systems-based analysis on the City’s shelter services. Through the engagement Ingersoll did with both community members accessing services and HSD staff, it is clear that our systems need to develop a more sophisticated analysis on gender-based discrimination.  An additional recommendation from Ingersoll, not included in the Executive response, is third-party mediation for people who have filed a grievance in a shelter setting. I will be assessing Ingersoll’s recommendations further as we work to make our shelter system more responsive to and accessible for the trans and gender nonconforming community.

 

Council Passes ADU Legislation

On July 1st the Council passed new legislation regarding the Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs).

I support the construction of ADUs to provide more housing options in our city, as well as potentially provide homeowners an option to have family members – both aging parents and adult children – live in units on their property as well as create an income source for those struggling to keep up with a high mortgage and increasing property taxes.  The numbers of people who attended the Council’s ADU public hearing to say that they had been waiting for years for the legislation to be passed so that they could build an ADU for their parents and/or adult children – who otherwise could not afford to live in Seattle – was a compelling story of property owners who want to share their asset to create affordable living for people about whom they care.

My hope is that this legislation will lead to, not only more housing options, but more *affordable* long-term housing options. However, I believe that the likely outcomes of this legislation need to be put in perspective.  It will neither significantly address our affordable housing needs nor “destroy single-family neighborhoods.”

First of all, I think it’s really important to recognize that the areas that we refer to as Single-Family Zoned areas are not truly exclusively areas for “single families.”  Individuals and roommates can live in a house together without being a family and ADUs have been legal in these neighborhoods since 2010.  Even before passage of this new law, if you live in a Single-Family Zoned neighborhood, you could build a detached unit and rent a room (or more) in your own home.

Secondly, the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) predicts 4,430 new ADUs will be constructed over the next 10 years. On a per year basis that works out to only 443 ADUs built each year. The total number of acres of single-family zoned land where ADUs can be built under this legislation, totals 35,107 acres across the entire city.  If only 443 ADUs are built each year, that’s approximately one ADU per 79 acres, across the city.  Put another way, under the projection in the EIS, only one ADU per about approximately 12 city square blocks will be built each year. This EIS analysis suggests that this legislation will not dramatically change our neighborhoods.

Councilmember O’Brien brought forth an amendment stating that, in the future, Council intends to impose additional restrictions on short-term rentals in ADUs should significant numbers of ADUs be used exclusively for short-term rentals. I believe it would have been more prudent to limit the number of short-term rentals allowed in ADUs within the legislation.  I proposed an amendment to do so.  I voted in favor of the legislation in spite of this amendment not passing because a report from Puget Sound Sage in 2016 indicated that there were 2,817 whole unit listings on AirBnB. If you compare that to the roughly 357,000 housing units in the city, it works out to be 0.79 percent of housing units being used as short-term rentals.  If this trend is replicated in the ADU development market and considering the EIS projections of numbers of ADUs to be built over the next ten years, that would suggest that only about 35 of the 4,430 units built over 10 years will be built as short-term rentals.  While that number seems to be unrealistically low, I am willing to wait to see what the report says about short-term rental production in ADUs.

I also proposed an amendment that before property owners could receive a permit to build a second ADU they would have to own the property for one year, only impacting new owners of property.  20% of single-family properties are currently occupied by renters. These are the properties most vulnerable to the speculative market. The EIS shows that there is, under the new law, more profit to be made by selling ones’ property, rather than the possible profit from building 2 ADUs.  About 88 renter households each year (according to the EIS) will be displaced if the owners of those 88 properties sell to a developer who will evict the tenants, tear down the existing rental property, and build 3 high cost units on each of the approximately 88 properties.  My amendment would have limited the likelihood of that occurring.  In opposing my amendment my colleagues voted in favor of the interests of a person (or LLC) newly purchasing a property and wishing to develop it, over the interests of the tenants occupying the property in an increasingly speculative single-family market. I don’t believe that 88 renter households displaced each year is minimal, as my colleagues seem to believe.

Speculation and concentration of global investment in real estate are a real issues, and as outlined in this UN Human Rights Commission report, something that is occurring not just in Seattle, but around the world. There are also several articles about the rise of speculation after the housing market collapses which you can read here, here, or here. The purpose of the amendment was to curb this speculative development; as I said during the vote: “while we cannot prohibit speculative development, this amendment would create a ‘speed bump’… creating a more cautious approach.” Ultimately the amendment failed.

As I stated in an earlier paragraph, my hope is that this legislation will lead to, not only more housing options, but more *affordable* long-term housing options. Although amendments I care about failed, the promise of ADUs hold to provide more affordable housing options, while not guaranteed, can still be realized.  Elements of work yet to be done are described in the Mayor’s Executive Order which among other things, calls for:

  1. The submission of ADU designs to streamline and lower the costs and permitting process by making pre-approved plans available at low or no cost to homeowners.
  2. That the Department of Construction and Inspection (SDCI) support innovative prefab and modular construction methods, and to issue construction notices within 30 days for homeowners using a pre-approved plan.
  3. SDCI will hire a staff member, otherwise known as a navigator, to help through the permitting process.
  4. The pilot Home Repair Program outlined in the Affordability and Finance plan, passed by the City Council last month, will allow for low-interest financing through the Office of Housing to help low-income homeowners create ADUs which will be affordable at 80% area medium income.

Many of you wrote me about this legislation – whether in support or in opposition – I want to thank you for writing me.

 

Wildfire/smoke preparation

Wildfire smoke has been an increasing presence during late Seattle summers over the last few years, due to forest fires in the western US and British Columbia. We had 24 days of poor air quality from wildfire smoke in 2018, and 9 days were considered unhealthy.

To prepare for any wildfire smoke this summer, the Mayor has created a Smoke Ready Seattle webpage. It has links to air quality maps, where to sign up for Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PSCAA) wildfire smoke alerts, and PSCAA guidelines on safe activity levels based on current conditions.  It also has links about air filters, protecting pets, and how to fit masks.

The Mayor also announced facilities will be open with enhanced indoor air quality.

PSCAA has a wildfire smoke preparation page, including links to cooling center locations, with a number of locations listed in District 1.

 

DNDA Funding for Delridge Way SW Improvements

On Monday the Council accepted funding from the Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association for enhanced plantings in medians and curb bulbs for the Delridge Way SW/RapidRide H Line project.

The Delridge Neighborhood Development Association is doing great work to enhance business nodes along Delridge Way SW, in coordination with the Office of Economic Development.

The locations for these enhanced plantings are Andover, Youngstown, Brandon and Orchard, and correspond to four neighborhood areas identified in the North Delridge Action Plan, so it’s good to see that SDOT is keeping this neighborhood plan in mind and working with DNDA.

These neighborhoods are identified in the North Delridge Action Plan as the Andover Junction, Delridge Community Campus, Brandon Junction and Sylvan Junction.

Construction is planned to begin in 2020, with Bus 120 converting to the Rapid Ride H Line in 2021.

 

In-District Office Hours

On July 26, I will be at the Southwest Customer Service Center (2801 SW Thistle St) between 12pm and 5pm. The final meeting of the day will begin at 4:30 p.m.

These hours are walk-in friendly, but if you would like to let me know you’re coming in advance you can email my scheduler Alex Clardy (alex.clardy@seattle.gov).

Additionally, here is a list of my tentatively scheduled office hours. These are subject to change.

  • Friday, August 16, 2019
    South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S
  • Friday, September 27, 2019
    Senior Center of West Seattle, 4217 SW Oregon St
  • Friday, October 25, 2019
    Southwest Customer Service Center, 2801 SW Thistle St
  • Friday, November 29, 2019
    South Park Community Center, 8319 8th Avenue S
  • Friday, December 20, 2019
    Senior Center of West Seattle, 4217 SW Oregon St

 

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