The Capitol Hill Community Council continues elevating the issues most meaningful to our neighborhood. This month’s meeting, on Thursday, February 18 (6:00pm at 12th Ave Arts) focuses on empowering renters.
Advocates for tenants will provide helpful information about the rights of renters and the importance of being an informed renter. And guests from the City of Seattle will share opportunities to expand renters’ rights through HALA and the Housing Levy.
This focus speaks to a larger commitment that we’ve made to our community and ourselves: community development that affirms we are all neighbors who deserve the ability to thrive.
Lately, we’ve followed along with the discourse from nearby neighborhoods that continue to fiercely oppose change, that continue to reject the most vulnerable. We’re hoping that this new commitment and a diversity of meeting format helps us to be in community with our neighbors, more wholly.
Every other month, such as January, March, etc, we’re hosting a “Meet Your Neighbors” event. In January, we hosted our first social event and were so grateful to have welcomed close to sixty people who enjoyed wine and appetizers, met new people, had casual conversations about housing and affordability and homelessness, and shared their stories and why they love Capitol Hill. In the alternate months, Feb, April, etc, we’ll continue producing the types of meetings our neighborhood has relied on to learn more deeply about each other and the issues that are affecting our city.
Knowing each other and connecting in-person will profoundly impact how we are in community together.
Demonizing people experiencing homelessness by dumping water on their belongings is not being in community with our neighbors more wholly. The hearings in Olympia that aim to further marginalize and target transgender Washingtonians, pushing people closer to the margins, is not seeing our neighbors more wholly. Criminalizing people who are experiencing chemical dependency or substance use, not understanding their needs and/or addictions as a public health issue, prevents us from implementing innovative solutions, such as safe consumption sites, and is not being in community more wholly.
And as housing affordability continues to be our city’s most pressing issue, we must empower renters, especially because we make up roughly 53% of Seattle’s population (and more than 80% of our neighborhood’s population). At speaking engagements, forums, town halls, and debates, I routinely hear from well-meaning people (people who care deeply about their city and their neighborhoods) but who can’t divorce themselves from the unfounded fears that renters are “transients,” renters “don’t care about the neighborhood,” or renters are ensuring our “lovely community is losing the appeal, charm, and attraction for steady income, responsible, professional homeowners.”
Our council is made up of women, queer people, young people, people of color, new people to the city, homeowners; and, most importantly, renters. You’ll find it challenging to define our council or the hundreds of renters who consistently came to our meetings in the last year as “transients” who don’t care about the neighborhood.
Quite the opposite.
We do care about this neighborhood, along with thousands of others – both long-term renters to first-time renters. That’s why we’re fighting so hard to retain the values of the Capitol Hill we’ve all known and loved for so long while weaving it into the change that lies ahead in order to be in community with our neighbors, more wholly.