Equality Begins with a Roof Over Your Head

As the home base of Amazon and Microsoft, among other large companies, Seattle currently hosts the most profitable sector of the economy in human history. In recent years, Washington has been ranked as the 9th most expensive state in which to buy a house, and homes are appreciating at a significantly higher rate than the national average.

This is great for those with the means to purchase homes and work their way up the property ladder, but what about for everyone else? This effectively makes safe and affordable housing even more unreachable for citizens with lower incomes or facing other factors making it challenging to find and keep housing. In a state of vast wealth and resources, it is such juxtaposition that homelessness and the lack of affordable housing is an ongoing and major issue in Washington state.

Three housing rights organizations are now working with Betterplace to mobilize more citizens to fight for housing rights. The Tenants Union of Washington State is at the coal face of the struggle, providing support for tenants in precarious positions including with landlords. They also support tenants in organizing and tenant-led advocacy efforts.

Source Of Income (SOI) discrimination has been a major hurdle preventing many citizens from finding safe and affordable housing for years. SOI discrimination is currently outlawed in 15 states (source). The Washington Low-Income Housing Alliance (WLIHA) has been leading the charge on banning SOI discrimination in Washington state for nearly 10 years. They have successfully drafted a bill, negotiated it, and achieved landlord buy-in. Banning SOI discrimination literally opens doors for citizens to find homes and move into higher opportunity neighbourhoodsThe Housing Alliance also organizes an advocate call every other Friday during the legislative session. Housing and homelessness advocates are invited to join in on the calls to hear updates on lead policy priorities and bills from partner organizations.

There are also other organizations in Washington state empowering citizens on the issue of homelessness and affordable housing by helping them leverage their discomfort into concrete action.

In early 2018, Housing For All Seattle launched a campaign to secure funding for the construction of 20,000 homes for low-income families and marginalized members of society over the next 10 years in Seattle. As a result of efforts from the Housing For All Coalition, the Progressive Revenue Task Force was formed by Seattle City Council, whose goal is to recommend funding sources and create new housing, shelter, and services without further taxing working and poor people. Events such as the campaign launch encourage and empower citizens to get involved, learn more, and take action.

These organizations’ efforts in remedying the Washington housing crisis is a great example of the growing strength of the progressive movement, and Betterplace is pleased to be working alongside them in helping everyday citizens action their causes. For example, the Housing Alliance posts a new advocacy task every week that provide an opportunity to take action on the most timely issue. The Tenants Union proposes action on Betterplace for spreading the word and engaging advocates. Visit www.better.place today and show your support for housing rights.

Ben Rowswell