The days leading up to Nov. 23 are important for our fight against draconian cuts to housing and services, and to win more for the Green New Deal and renters rights.
This is the seventh year of the People’s Budget movement! This year again, the Fall 2020 People’s Budget campaign – which includes workers, Black and Brown communities, socialists, union members, renters, and housing justice activists – is winning crucial gains!
Through the People’s Budget campaign and our Council office, we are on track to win:
- over half a million dollars for urgent renter organizing and education,
- nearly half a million dollars for eviction defense attorneys,
- over $4 million for 3 new Tiny House Villages,
- $30 million for anti-displacement community development projects, which was yet another of Mayor Durkan’s broken promises,
- funds to begin Africatown’s full-square-block affordable housing project on Yesler in the Central District,
- full funding for the City’s Green New Deal oversight board,
- $655,000 to fund 24 hour operations for SHARE-WHEEL shelters,
- funds for low-income Vietnamese seniors,
- signage at Licton Springs honoring indigenous history,
- a study to prepare legislation for standard tenant leases to avoid abusive clauses, and
- a study to prepare legislation for transferable renter background checks
A huge thank you to everyone who has been part of this. But friends, I also have an urgent appeal. While we have been quite successful in winning crucial gains in the City Council’s proposed budget, we still face the prospect of the City Council Democrats approving a budget with draconian cuts to housing and services, putting the burden of the crisis on working people rather than increasing taxes on pandemic profiteers. So we need our movement’s voice these next two weeks.
Six weeks ago, Mayor Jenny Durkan put forward her anti-worker, anti-community vision for a 2021 City budget. It’s an austerity budget that cuts more than $200 million in housing and services, putting the burden of the crisis squarely on the shoulders of working people and marginalized communities. Durkan’s budget fails to defund the bloated police budget to instead fund Black and Brown working-class communities. Durkan’s budget protects Amazon, Starbucks, and other pandemic profiteers from having to pay more in taxes. It places the burden of the pandemic and the economic recession on the backs of working people and marginalized communities, not on big corporations. Our People’s Budget movement has been in action, organizing a Town Hall, and generating hundreds of letters and phone calls to the City Council.
In the next two weeks, the City Council will debate on the proposed budget, and vote on the final City budget. And we cannot let up now!
Why the People’s Budget Must Continue the Next Two Weeks
We are on track to win the gains I mentioned above. This shows our collective power, and that we have momentum in pressing the political establishment. But it doesn’t mean that we can count these as wins just yet. We have to keep organizing and advocating. For instance, we shouldn’t be surprised if corporate Councilmembers attempt to remove our gains from the final budget. In the next two weeks, let’s keep fighting for our People’s Budget demands! We need you at the People’s Budget Community Meeting Tuesday, November 17, at 6PM?
We want to win 5 more Tiny House Villages.
With the escalating homelessness crisis combined with the pandemic, our People’s Budget demanded $12 million for 8 new urgently-needed Tiny House Villages. Over the years, Tiny House Villages have been a lifeline for homeless neighbors, offering community, stability, privacy, and safety. Our People’s Budget demanded $12 million to fund 8 new tiny house villages; the City Council has agreed to 3, but we know that’s not enough. Our People’s Budget demand to the City Council: Fully fund all 8 new tiny house villages.
We need more for renter eviction defense!
Working-class renters are struggling under the twin challenges of the pandemic and the recession. Our People’s Budget demanded an additional $500,000 for tenant education, outreach, and organizing, and it looks like we are winning it. Be:Seattle and the Tenants Union have worked tirelessly, alongside our Council office, to generate hundreds of letters and phone calls from tenants and supporters.
Our People’s Budget also called for $750,000 in new funding to help tenants fight eviction threats from landlords. We have made big headway, with $460,000 in the City Council’s proposed budget. But tenants throughout our city face a tsunami of evictions next year, once the current eviction moratorium expires – we need full funding of eviction defense services!
Our People’s Budget demand to the City Council: Renters face a tsunami of evictions. Fund renter eviction defense services, with an additional $290,000.
We need big business to pay for this crisis, NOT working people!
Unfortunately, the City Council’s proposed budget fails to undo the Mayor’s cruel austerity plan. In the middle of this pandemic and recession, the City Council proposes to allow over $200 million of cuts to affordable housing and basic services like transportation, community centers, and parks.
Our People’s Budget movement has demanded that the cost of this recession should not be extracted from working people and marginalized communities. Instead, the City Council must stop the cuts by increasing the Amazon Tax that our movement won in July. Working people are struggling, while big corporations like Amazon and Starbucks are reaping record profits. It’s time to make big business pay for the pandemic!
Our People’s Budget demand to the City Council: No to austerity! Increase the Amazon Tax to make big business pay for housing and services.
We need to defund the bloated police budget by 50 percent, and instead fund community-led programs and affordable housing.
Our People’s Budget movement is proud to have brought forward the community demand to defund the bloated Seattle Police Department budget by 50% and redirect the funds to urgent community needs like affordable housing, youth programming, and restorative justice. Our budget amendment would move $170 million next year out of the police department and into the community.
Unfortunately, other Councilmembers, in spite of their voluminous rhetoric about listening to the community, have failed to follow through on their previous pledges to support defunding the SPD by 50 percent. To date, no other Councilmember – including the other six who publicly pledged in June to defund the police by 50% – has signed on to my office’s defund amendment. Our People’s Budget demand to the City Council: Follow through on your commitment to the community, and support Councilmember Sawant’s budget amendment to defund SPD by 50%, and use the $170 million in community priorities.
We need to stop the inhumane and ineffective sweeps of homeless neighbors.
Our People’s Budget movement, united with Nickelsville, SHARE/WHEEL, faith leaders, and housing activists continues to demand that the police stop the cruel and ineffective sweeps of our homeless neighbors. Forcing people already on the street to move out of their tents and makeshift shelters into even more precarious places is inhumane at any time; but it’s especially appalling during the COVID pandemic.Our People’s Budget demand to the City Council: Stop the sweeps of our homeless neighbors!
We need an elected community oversight board with full powers over police!
Police need to be held accountable to our community! Our People’s Budget movement has put forward an amendment calling on the City to take steps to establish an elected Community Oversight Board with full powers over police accountability, including the power to investigate reports of excessive force and racially biased policing, to subpoena witnesses and evidence, and to fire or otherwise discipline officers. Establishing this new, community-elected oversight board will likely require voter approval, and our amendment would start the process of drafting the necessary legislation.Our People’s Budget demand to the City Council: Support Councilmember Sawant’s budget amendment to direct the City to draft legislation to create an elected community oversight board over the police!
We need increased funds for our city’s Green New Deal!
Our People’s Budget, united with a wide range of community groups, is fighting for City funds to support Green New Deal programs. As a result of our advocacy, the City Council’s proposed budget includes funds for the Green New Deal Oversight Board. That’s a big step forward that our movement is winning! But we are still fighting for our budget amendment to commit at least a million dollars to begin a serious effort in Green New Deal projects such as subsidizing electrical retrofitting of working people’s homes, along with home weatherization.
Our People’s Budget demand to the City Council: Include at least a million dollars to get Green New Deal projects off the ground!
Our People’s Budget movement has a six-year track record of having won crucial victories. What we win this year, as with all of our previous fights going back to 2014, is a function of our power. And, we must recognize that we are fighting not just to win legislation, but to take on big business and the billionaires who are demanding austerity for working people, while they cash in on record profits.