Resolution to Support Fair Pay for Human Services Workers; Supporting Mental Health at Chief Sealth; 4th of July Fireworks; Transportation and SPU Committee Briefing on Racing Zone Proposal


Resolution to Support Fair Pay for Human Services Workers

On Tuesday, my Council colleagues passed a resolution that I sponsored, declaring the Council’s intent to consider funding equitable wage increases for human services workers to address the city’s staffing crisis.  The resolution also requests that public funders and private philanthropy produce recommendations to collectively address wage equity before Council’s budget deliberations this fall.

This action stems from recent University of Washington research, which found nonprofit human services workers are paid 37 percent less than workers in other industries, despite the fact their work is not easier, not less skilled, nor less demanding. Those who leave human services for other work get a seven percent increase in net pay, within just a year of leaving.

It is impossible to end our homelessness emergency without fully staffing and fairly paying human services work. These workers are on the streets every day helping people in their hour of greatest need. We rely on them to tackle the city’s biggest crises, from homelessness to hunger, childcare and elder care.  Throughout our consideration of human services wages, we heard public testimony that cuts to the heart of why we must address worker wages with urgency.

  • YouthCare testified they struggle to meet the needs of the youth they serve because their nearly 200 staff are working double shifts and second jobs, and are still one unexpected expense away from financial crisis
  • Senior Center of West Seattle is increasingly on the frontlines of serving folks experiencing homelessness who wander in. They testified that unfilled positions lead to long waits for help, putting the staff and seniors they serve in a very difficult position.
  • Multiple childcare classrooms – including some desperately needed for infants – are going empty because nonprofits can’t find staff to work for such low wages.
  • Amanda, a human services worker with 14 years of experience, testified she still must take on a second job – in food services – to afford to work in this field.
  • King County quickly purchased 10 hotels/apartment buildings to house people living unsheltered during the pandemic – but couldn’t open half of them due to workforce shortages.
  • The King County Regional Homelessness Authority has repeatedly told us that among its five largest contracted organizations, there are more than 300 vacant positions.

The resolution passed this week acknowledges the Council’s responsibility to work toward wage equity for nonprofit human services workers. It creates a roadmap to do that by, among other things, recognizing the recommendations made in the UW wage equity study, requesting recommendations from private and public funders to make progress on wage equity collectively, and stating the Council’s intent to consider recommendations increasing HSD-administered contracts by seven percent by 2025 to increase wages for human services workers.

The resolution also makes clear that, if made, these wage equity adjustments will be in addition to the inflationary adjustments required under City law.

Many thanks to superstar wage equity advocates, including Janice Deguchi of Neighborhood House, and Tree Willard and Jason Austin of Seattle Human Services Coalition!

Read the full list of actions outlined by the resolution here.   Learn more about the UW Wage Equity Study here.

Supporting Mental Health at Chief Sealth

Yesterday I visited Chief Sealth International High School to learn how they are addressing student mental health using City funding I championed.  Denny Middle School also received funds this year.

Principal Ray Garcia Morales and Rachel Evans, Academic Intervention Specialist, shared their quick work to prioritize and deploy this funding to benefit Latinx students, who recorded the highest levels of absenteeism and school avoidance: one of the more obvious ways that mental health issues present in Chief Sealth students.

  • Students enrolled in the Proyecto Saber classes participated in a workshop series focused on ancestral, intergenerational, interpersonal trauma, healing, joy and resiliency, applicable to all areas of their lives.
  • Latinx female identifying students participated in a 16-week afterschool program to develop and expand their understanding of their community and cultural identify, including psychoeducation, coping strategies, and mental health care.
  • A new staff member forged relationships directly with students and families to connect them to Sealth by providing academic support, facilitating restorative conversations with students and teachers, supporting attendance goals, and involving students in soccer and boxing teams.

I am so grateful to Principal Morales and Rachel, as well as Department of Education and Early Learning Director Dwane Chappelle and staff Chris Alejano and Amelia Moore (pictured below!) for the care, creativity, and passion they brought to this work.  I’m happy to report that the learnings from this project will inform an increased City investment in student mental health next year.

4th of July Fireworks

Please note that fireworks are banned in Seattle and unincorporated King County, except with special permitting. Still, every year, illegal fireworks cause expensive property damage, significant personal injuries, and sometimes even death.

Last year, Harborview Medical Center’s Burn Unit alone treated 67 patients for fireworks-related injuries and Seattle Fire Department responded to 16 fireworks-related fires including two structure fires. In 2022 across the state, there were 310 known fireworks-related fires and 198 injuries. Many of us remember that in 2020, a building in West Seattle was ignited when dry brush in front of the four-story apartment building was sparked by fireworks. While it is fortunate that nobody was injured, residents were displaced and the damage was estimated to be a $100,000 loss.

SFD suggests you protect your property from fire damage over the weekend leading up to the 4th of July by removing branches, dry grass, paper recyclables, and other materials that can act as kindling from around your home, including leaves that may be on your roof or in your gutter. You should also keep a garden hose with the nozzle hooked up and ready to use in case of emergency and test your smoke alarms.

Please remember that sudden and loud noises can also be triggering for people with PTSD like veterans and gun violence survivors, so please check on your neighbors, friends, and family through the holiday. Pets are also often more sensitive to loud noises and flashing lights.

With the surge of fireworks-related calls, along with other public safety and health emergencies, the 4th of July is one of the busiest days of the year for our emergency responders. Please limit the use of 911 for true health and safety emergencies so first responders can focus on life-threatening emergencies. For other issues, you can call Seattle’s non-emergency line at (206) 625 – 5011.

Seattle Fire Department Chief Scoggins and I share a concern for the safety and well-being of Seattle residents and visitors on this holiday and every day. In past years, I’ve shared specific locations of known fireworks with Chief Scoggins, and SFD firefighters have been able to visit these locations for outreach and engagement in the days leading up to and on July 4th. Several constituents have already written to me, and I’ve shared their reports with Chief Scoggins and his team. If you have a specific D1 location that you’d like me to pass on to the Department, please let me know and I will ask SFD to visit these places to discourage unsafe behavior as their staffing allows.

You can go to any of several brilliant fireworks displays across the region to enjoy professional choreographed fireworks shows. Below are just some of the Independence Day events nearby.

  • In Seattle: Seafair Summer Fourth boasts one of the largest fireworks displays in the area with great free views around Lake Union, including some of Seattle’s greatest parks, Lake Union Park and Gas Works Park.
  • On the Eastside, Bellevue Family 4th includes an evening of entertainment and a kids play area starting at 5PM with a fireworks show beginning at 10PM and followed by a performance by the Belelvue Youth Symphony Orchestra.
  • In the South Sound, Tacoma Summer Blast offers a full day of entertainment along the Ruston Way waterfront from Dune Peninsula Park all the way to Jack Hyde Park. Beginning at 12PM, the event hosts 150 vendors and two entertainment stages with a 20 minute fireworks show over Commencement Bay beginning around 10PM.

Transportation and SPU Committee Briefing on Racing Zone Proposal

On Tuesday the Transportation and Seattle Public Utilites heard a first briefing on Council Bill 120600, which designates racing zones eligible for automated safety cameras.

In 2022, the state legislature authorized use of cameras for walk areas, public park speed zones and hospital speed zones. Use in racing zones was also authorized if designated by local ordinance. That’s what this bill would do.

The Central Staff presentation shows the locations proposed in the legislation; For District 1, A is Alki Avenue, B is Harbor Avenue, and C is West Marginal Way.

During public comment, several speakers spoke to safety concerns on Alki and Harbor Avenue, including pedestrian safety, and said racing activities tend to start in the evenings and continue until well after midnight; some noted that speed bumps have helped in some areas.

I relayed comments I received from the Highland Park neighborhood, about West Marginal Way:

“We can attest to its popularity with racers, who can be heard at all hours of the night racing vehicles along this area (for example just last night at 2am they could be heard).

 We support adding this deterrent to this risky behavior with the caveat that an equity analysis of the results be submitted as noted in the legislation. Having police attempt to chase down drivers in fast cars sounds so much more dangerous than issuing speeding tickets from a traffic camera”

Another Delridge constituent wrote, “illegal street racing on Marginal Way is a continuous disturbance during the warmer months. It’s also highly dangerous to anyone legally using these streets.”

The legislation could come up in committee again as soon as July 18. As noted above, the legislation makes racing zones eligible for camera enforcement; but SDOT cannot implement that authority until an an equity analysis is completed, aligned with the expectation of Council funding for an expansion of school zone speed enforcement, that includes a detailed implementation plan including (1) camera deployment by location; (2) documentation of the race and social justice analysis used to inform new deployments; (3) An evaluation of the costs and benefits for expanding other automated traffic safety camera program authority provided under state law.

Councilmember Herbold and constituents who testified on Tuesday


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