2019 Seattle City Council Housing and Homelessness Voters Guide
To help Seattle voters understand their choices in the upcoming City Council election, Tech 4 Housing has partnered with Resolution to End Homelessness, Seattle University’s Project on Family Homelessness, Housing Development Consortium and Solid Ground on a 2019 voter education project.
This online Voters Guide on Housing and Homelessness is based on responses to a candidate questionnaire sent to all 14 candidates. We’re pleased that 13 of 14 candidates are expected to participate in this Voters Guide. See more of our methodology here.
Many thanks to the candidates who participated, and to the voters who consider housing and homelessness a primary issue in this campaign.
Note: Because we are 501(c)(3) organizations, we are providing this information for educational purposes only and are not making endorsements. We do not endorse nor oppose any candidate.
King County Elections will mail ballots to everyone mid-October. You can return your ballot by mail (no stamp required) or at a drop box, by Tuesday, Nov. 5.
Download complete candidate response as submitted.
Question 1. Beyond making current programs more efficient, do you think we need to increase funding for housing for people experiencing homelessness? If so, where would you raise the revenue?
I believe in a housing-first approach for people experiencing homelessness; the city should go into debt to build the housing it needs to address the state of emergency that was declared years ago. We should create a land bank in which the city would purchase land as it becomes available on the market and specifically designate it for public, dense, (actually) affordable housing. This can be done by pursuing and implementing the revenue options outlined in its “Progressive Revenue Taskforce on Housing and Homelessness” and also use its bonding capacity to get the funding we need for an ambitious investment in public housing. The revenue options we must pursue include a tax on mansion sales and on vacant luxury real estate developments. With political courage and fiscal clarity, we can build the housing we need for working families, students, renters, and people of color at risk of being displaced.
Question 2. What are your thoughts on the City's current implementation of encampment removals? In what ways would you improve the policies?
The city has spent 10 million dollars a year on cruel and inhumane sweeps of encampments under the guise of the “Seattle Navigation Team,” which is supposed to redirect unhoused people to services yet instead humiliates and dehumanizes them. If elected, I would push the council and the mayor to stop the sweeps immediately, instead diverting those funds to social services and affordable housing efforts that will actually address the root of homelessness.
Question 3. The City and State have introduced several new tenant protections in recent years. Do you think more work is needed to protect tenants and combat displacement? If so, what changes would you like to see?
While I commend the City and State in their recent actions with expanding tenant protections, I believe more should be done to protect renters in the city. The number one issue that I hear from renters, young people, and students in my district, is the lack of affordable housing options and seeming abdication of local government’s responsibility to provide housing as a human right. As a renter myself, I understand the financial strains and insecurity that come with renting. If elected onto Seattle City Council, I would expand just cause protections for renters with fixed-term leases who are up for a lease renewal. Additionally, I have called for commercial rent control on my campaign. As we have the legal infrastructure to implement it, I believe it would be an important tool in protecting small, usually immigrant-owned, businesses from development and upzoning in the University District.
Question 4. Homelessness and housing insecurity disproportionately affect people of color, LGBTQ communities, people with disabilities and other marginalized communities. What would you do to address these disparities?
Ensuring the most marginalized members of society can afford to live in Seattle is at the heart of my campaign. Current affordable housing programs are not enough, and absolutely do not ensure the survival of those making less than designated median incomes for existing programs. Therefore, decommodifying housing is critical. Too often, the term “affordable housing” has been cheapened through overuse and misuse. I am very intentional in saying that, as a City Councilmember, I will fight for public and supportive housing, which I believe is necessary to adequately and sustainably address our housing crisis. Without this kind of bold investment in public housing, too many will continue to be neglected by our current approach to affordable housing, which relies on market incentives and fines that developers are able to absorb without much consequence.
Question 5. How would you adjust Seattle's land use and zoning laws? In particular, what changes, if any, would you want to see in neighborhoods currently zoned exclusively for single-family housing and in multi-family neighborhoods where we're making significant investments in transit?
Seattle’s regressive zoning regime is the invisible ink of inequity in the city. Exclusive single family zoning has created proto-suburban neighborhoods within our city limits. Even if the city were to maximize the amount of housing it put in urban villages and areas designated for “upzones,” we won’t come close to building the amount of housing we need unless we rezone large swaths of the city, specifically blanket rezones in wealthy white neighborhoods. We need to provide incentives to residents within certain precincts to voluntarily rezone their own lots so that they can become affordable housing in the event that those lots hit the market. Additionally, with a number of light rail stations opening in the coming years (including two in District 4), the city must spearhead transit-centered development. By rezoning the city, we are taking strides in making the city more equitable.
Question 6. We know that it is cheaper to prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place than it is to support them to exit homelessness. What is your vision for homelessness prevention initiatives and services in our community?
As stated previously, we believe in taking a housing first approach because we know that by treating housing as a human right, and ensuring stability, many other elements in one’s life can begin to fall into place. My vision for homelessness prevention initiatives and services in the community begins with dense public and social housing that the city takes seriously to building. This comes with rezoning, with transit-oriented development, and with valuing our social workers and service providers by ensuring they have the resources they need to help their clients. At the same time, my campaign has called for shifting towards anti-carceral solutions to addressing crimes of poverty (specifically trespassing/loitering, and theft). We know that criminalizing poor people, people of color, disabled people, and queer/trans people is not an effective solution to what needs to be solved with compassion and the redistribution of power in the city.
Alex Pedersen declined to participate in the Housing and Homelessness Voters Guide.