As City Council gets its say on reshaping Mayor Ed Murray’s budget boosts and cuts for 2017 and beyond, District 3 representative Kshama Sawant has again passed the mic to the people. Tuesday night, the three-year council member hosted her third annual People’s Budget Town Hall. The 2016 theme? “Build 1,000 Homes!” following Sawant’s campaign to repurpose the proposed $160 million budget for a new North Precinct headquarters for SPD. “If you’re worried about not having pristine conditions for the police, then welcome to the world of public housing, and public education and public schools,” Sawant said Tuesday night. “They face substandard conditions everyday.” Below, you’ll find 9 pictures and 9 quotes from Tuesday night’s session.
Matt Remle – Indigenous activist, teacher, and member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe – “We need 1,000 homes now. Many of our native brothers and sisters are experiencing homelessness at a very high rate. We need to bring them in to be a part of the conversation.”
Kshama Sawant – “Nationwide in metropolitan areas like Seattle, for every $100 average increase in rent, there is a 15% increase in homelessness. It doesn’t require us to be a genius to understand that we need a comprehensive set of policies to address the unaffordability of housing and rising homelessness…One of the things we need to highlight, is that when you look at who’s homeless, communities of colors and minorities are overrepresented among homeless people, as are the LGBTQ community. If you look at the percentage of black and brown people and Native American people in the city, they are small, but if you look at homeless people, they are large. That shows you that the inequality and racism truncates into real issues for our community members.”
Michael Ramos – Executive Director of Church Council of Seattle – “The church council is a proud supporter of 1000 Affordable Homes Now. All the faith communities in Seattle are standing up and we’re happy to say that more than three dozen pastors and faith leaders have signed the petition as part of the coalition. There’s actually 51 as of right now that have signed on. We ask you to join us in presenting that petition to the city council next Tuesday night in these council chambers…What’s a good use of our tax dollars? To shelter the homeless and help families thrive or to build a bunker or police station?”
Kailyn Nicholson – Socialist Alternative Activist – “Business as usual in Seattle means making massive profits for the super wealthy while communities of color fall further into poverty every year. Business as usual in Seattle means building jails for children instead of investing in education. It means criminalizing homelessness instead of building affordable housing. It means building a new luxury bunker for police instead of holding them accountable when they shoot and kill people of color on our streets for no reason. Here in Seattle and across the country, people are saying we have had enough of business as usual.”
Steve Swatte – UW masters student and student worker activist – “I want to stop calling it a bunker, I want to call it a mausoleum for black and brown bodies. I think that’s really what it is. This is a legacy of oppression and marginalization that has not let up and not given in any way since Jim Crow. The mausoleum is an extension of that….We all know crime is a problem. We all feel that impact in our lives on a daily basis. Many of us know that punitive justice is not the answer. Punitive justice does not solve anything.”
Tatiana Hampton – Homeless advocate and organizer at Nicklesville Tiny House Village – “Nicklesville saved us from being on the street and helped us learn how to help ourselves. It keeps us organized, builds community and teaches us responsibility. We take care of each other and keep each other safe. We encourage each other’s growth… It is not where we want to live for the rest of our lives, but right now, there’s nothing better. There’s just not enough affordable housing in Seattle for the 1000’s who need it.”
Hana Aličić – Counselor at Tent City Collective and Community Organizer at Tenants Union of WA – “How we spend resources is a sign of what we as a society value. Do we value renters? Do we want people to live close to their jobs? Do we want kids to be able to safely complete their education at one school? Do we value diversity and folks who are immigrants and refugees? Do we want more communities Or are we ok with sitting back and letting this city become accessible and comfortable only to those who have wealth?…Let’s make sure our neighbors on the streets are given access to housing, let’s make the city open for all, and let’s build our communities.”
Paula Lukaszek – Plumber at UW and President of Local 1488 – My local signed onto this letter of support to build 1000 houses, I’d like to see us build 10,000 houses…Most of my members have to live outside of the city now, they can’t afford to rent here. Seattle needs to be a place where workers of all income levels can afford to live. That’s why my local signed on the city council investing the money into 1000 homes.
Dr. Sheley Secrest – Trial Lawyer and Vice President of the King County NAACP – “I’m here tonight to speak on our support for building affordable homes. When we supported the Block The Bunker, it was more than just a simple building. What we were really talking about is that we wanted to prioritize for that little boy who doesn’t know where he’s going to sleep at night, we wanted to tell him, that he’s more important than an officer being able to have a bomb proof building…We know the community solutions and that militarization of the police is not the message we’ve been saying for decades…We need to make sure our message is clear and that we are heard. We need to build 1000 homes.”