Following is just an abbreviated list of what the SDC has done over the years with particular emphasis on their work of state-wide significance:
- for specific 2004 activities we are currently addressing, click here:
1. The SDC was instrumental in creating a strong set of affordable housing provisions in the State GMA. Included in this work was the SDC’s successful effort to create enabling legislation that gave cities the right to require for-profit developers to pay relocation expenses to tenants they displaced. This legislation has since been successfully upheld in the courts, and has been adopted in Seattle.
2. The SDC was a founding member of the Washington State Low Income Housing Congress.
3. The SDC was one of the first (among only a handful of housing groups at the time) to go down to Olympia year in and year out in the late 70’s and early 80’s to testify and call on legislators to commit funding for low income housing. Their actions helped lead to creation of the State Housing Trust Fund and a State Finance Commission.
4. The SDC played a key role in reforming the way in which tax credits are allocated, ensuring that a greater portion of the state’s tax credits went to non-profits, housing serving the state’s lowest income groups, and housing that serves people of color.
5. The SDC played a key role in passage of a Mobile Home Right of First Refusal Law.
6. As a founding member of the Coalition for Accountability at the Seattle Housing Authority, the SDC lobbied successfully in Olympia for changes to the SHA board. By adding a requirement for resident and senior participation on the board, increasing the number of board members, and requiring City Council review of board appointments, not only has the accountability of the board been enhanced, but a precedent has been set that can be applied statewide as to how to improve accountability on PHA boards in this environment of decreasing funding for Public Housing programs.
7. Through its ongoing efforts to make known the social and economic costs inherent in HUD’s HOPE VI program, the SDC has successfully demonstrated the impact that this significant federal housing program has had on the stock of existing very low income housing and on local funding sources, such as State bond cap, trust fund, and tax credit resources. In the face of some controversy, their efforts have produced a much higher degree of sensitivity among housing authorities as to the impact this program is having on a city’s stock of existing very low income housing. As such, their effort has produced commitments for 1 for 1 replacement of any public housing that is lost as a result of HOPE VI, setting an important standard for local use of these funds in the future. Their efforts also have generated a healthy debate over the continuing important role that public housing must play in solutions to the State’s housing crisis and shed light on the significant opportunity costs – inherent in the program.
8. Through its work in revealing misuse of HUD Section 108 funds (used in Seattle to promote downtown development rather than low income economic needs) the SDC was instrumental in securing changes at HUD in the criteria that will be used for future allocation of these 108 funds. This has had a national impact on this program helping to ensure that hundreds of millions of dollars allocated each under this program actually will go to meet the needs of low income areas and communities of color.
9. On a local level, for over 20 years, the SDC has tirelessly pursued an agenda of advocacy on behalf of low income people and the homeless. Their efforts in the policy arena have produced precedent-setting legislation curbing the demolition, conversion, and abandonment of low income housing, and their work was instrumental in the first local law in the state barring discrimination against households with children and requiring developers to share in the cost of replacing low income units they remove. At least 1000 units of very low income housing – in SRO’s and apartment buildings in downtown Seattle are standing today as a result of legal and administrative challenges by the Coalition mounted against developers planning to remove low income units. To highlight the need for independent living facilities for homeless youth, hey also founded a ran the state’s first “self-managed independent living project” for homeless youth – a project now run by the Church Council of Greater Seattle.
Summary of Recent Work and On-Going Activities of the Seattle Displacement Coalition in 2004:
1. Continued Assistance to low income seniors who live in the 1000 Senior Housing Bond Program (SSHP) Units owned and operated by the Seattle Housing Authority:
2. Working with Coalition of Community Groups and affected residents to save the 550-unit Yesler Terrace Public Housing Project now facing possible demolition and displacement:
3. Coordinating a city-wide response to the Mayor’s plan to promote biotech development in South Lake Union – working directly with affected low income Cascade residents to prevent housing losses, and coordinating a city-wide neighborhood response to expose the $800,000,000 cost of the Mayor’s plan and ensure benefiting developers rather than taxpayers absorb those costs.
4. Blocking the Governor’s state-wide Tax Increment Financing or “TIF” legislation that was aimed at directing millions of additional tax subsidies for Boeing, Wal-Mart, Paul Allen’s plans in South Lake Union, and other big ticket developer schemes while promoting our own alternative version of “TIF” that serve exclusively low income and “blighted” neighborhoods. We had success down in Olympia blocking the Governor’s corporate giveaway, working with House Speaker Chopp and Majority Whip Sharon Tomiko Santos to achieve that…but our alternative bill also got no where. In future sessions we will seek to develop a strategy that prevents passage of a bad TIF no doubt to be re-introduced again next year. And we’ll focus on how we can get a good bill passed in the next session. Over the next few months, we are going to get groups endorsements and as many locally elected officials as possible behind our bill.
5. Creating our own website and continuing to regularly produce and circulate a community e-mail bulletin.
6. Monitoring the Seattle Housing Authority’s (SHA) compliance with our legal settlement regarding the Rainier Vista “HOPE VI’ redevelopment:
- Not much has happened on this front… but we check in regularly with surrounding residents to hear of any concerns they may have now that the project is under construction
7. Responding to SHA’s planned sale of 200 low income “scattered site” public housing units:
- Just in the last three weeks, we learned of this plan and launched an effort to ensure that if SHA proceeded with the sale of these units, they all would be replaced “1 for 1” with other public housing units. (They say they are pursuing this plan because it is too costly to maintain low density single family homes. They are seeking to earn about 40 million on the sale of these homes then use the proceeds to build even more low income units) Organizing a response from community leaders and key councilmembers, then meeting with SHA officials, we have obtained assurance and a resolution approved by the SHA board, that all units would be replaced 1 for 1 at comparable rents serving public housing residents and that any extra proceeds above the cost of replacing the units would also go towards additional public housing. We now are urging the City Council to get involved since the program was originally created under their authority. They must pass a resolution affirming 1 for 1 replacement and that all proceeds will go for additional public housing.
8. Pursue City Council adoption of a city-wide demolition control ordinance to prevent the continued loss of low income housing to demolition and speculative sale. Every year over 1000 low income units are lost in Seattle to these redevelopment forces. We recently met with City Councilmember and head of the Housing Committee Tom Rasmussen to secure his support for adoption of an “anti-displacement” resolution that we are asking him to introduce as a first step toward adoption of an anti-demolition ordinance. We will put more time into this effort over the coming months.
9. Continue to monitor and respond to Mayor and Council actions that threaten our stock of existing low income housing or that would adversely affect the homeless
10. After assessing interest and obtaining support from numerous community activists we were instrumental in initiating a series of meetings that led to creation of the Cross-Town Coalition – an ad-hoc organization of neighborhood activists from all over the city. This group has held several large forums and press events and meets regularly to coordinate a city-wide neighborhood response to the Mayors actions that directly and adversely affect neighborhoods in our city. The group takes joint positions on issues of neighborhood significance, meets with Councilmembers, holds press events and community forums on key neighborhood issues, and interviews candidates for City Council evaluating them in terms of their stance on neighborhood issues. We contribute towards keeping this group together and assisting in organizing regular meetings and activities. The group has become an important voice for neighborhood concerns including our concern for low income housing.
For more information and updates on any of these activities, call 632-0668
Click here to go back to Main Page return to top