This Week’s Budget Update; Honoring the Seattle Symphony; Diversity Career Fair; Evictions in Seattle

This Week’s Budget Update

On Monday, September 24th the Mayor presented her 2019-2020 Proposed Budget and 2019-2024 Proposed Capital Improvement Program.

You can access individual department budgets in the links above; here’s a link to a summary and high-level summary charts, and the budget homepage. Here’s the Mayor’s budget information page.

The Mayor identifies her priorities as:

The proposed budget will be reviewed by the Council, meeting as the Budget Committee, over the next two months.   The Council’s budget page is here.

On Wednesday and Thursday this week the Budget Committee heard budget overview presentations from the City Budget Office (CBO) and selected departments.

In Wednesday’s Budget Committee meeting, we discussed CBO’s Revenue Overview, and budget overview presentations from the Office of Civil Rights, the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, Seattle City Light, Seattle Public Utilities, and SDOT.  At Thursday’s Budget Committee meeting we heard presentations from the Office of Housing, Parks and Recreation, the Office of Labor Standards, the Human Services Department and the Seattle Police Department.

Check out the links above.  The departmental budget overview presentations each identify:

  1. Primary services and performance measurement for each selected department
  2. Strategic Priorities for 2019 for each selected department
  3. Annual Department Budget Comparisons (2016-2019) for each selected department
  4. Legislative and Policy Framework (recent law changes and how those changes impact how each selected department does its work)
  5. Major Proposed Changes (adds and cuts to each selected department)

During the Police Department briefing, I emphasized with Chief Best the support I’ve heard across District 1 for hiring additional police officers; I noted that residents of all 12 residential micro community policing plan areas in the SW Precinct listed Police Capacity as the #1 Top Public Safety Concern.

Next week the Budget Committee will meet on October 3rd for a Budget Work Session on focused on homelessness spending across all departments. On October 4th, the Budget Committee will hold a public hearing on the proposed budget and capital improvement program at 5:30 p.m.

Honoring the Seattle Symphony

The Seattle Symphony was recently named the Orchestra of the Year for 2018—a tremendous honor that recognizes artistic excellence. To salute this achievement, my office drafted a proclamation from the Council and Mayor, and named September 24, 2018 “Seattle Symphony Day”.

Here’s the proclamation, and a photo of Krishna Thiagarjan, President & CEO of the Symphony and others; Vice President of Artistic Planning & Creative Projects Elena Dubinets is holding the award.

Inaugural Public Sector Diversity Career Fair

This Saturday, September 29 between 10am and 2pm at the Renton Pavilion (233 Burnett Ave S, Renton), Seattle is partnering with 28 other local government entities in hosting a FREE career fair.

“At the City of Seattle, we’re stepping up our game and strengthening our community engagement,” says Deena Pierott, Equity Advisor and organizer of the event. “We recently released a report that shows we have some deficits based on our new City standard for measuring equity in our workforce and we’re going to change that narrative.”

There will be information sessions on how to apply for public sector jobs, assistance in navigating the NeoGov Application System used by most government agencies, and one-on-one evaluations of resumes and interview style.

The Career Fair will have free admission and parking and is easily accessible from a nearby transit center.

Seattle Women’s Commission Housing Justice Study on Evictions in Seattle

On Friday September 21st the Seattle Women’s Commission presented their report, Losing Home: The Human Cost of Eviction in Seattle, to my committee, the Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development and Arts Committee.  The Seattle Women’s Commission, in partnership with the Housing Justice Project (HJP), conducted research on the ways by which current policies and the practices of courts, landlords, attorneys and other private actors impact the mass eviction of low-income tenants in Seattle.  The research looked at factors such as:

  • as unpaid rent that triggers evictions
  • how much additional debt in the ways of late fees, court costs, and attorneys’ fees, tenants accumulate as a result of eviction rulings
  • how evictions affect tenant and family health
  • where people go after being evicted.

The researchers did a manual review of all 1,218 residential eviction actions filed in Seattle in 2017 and gathered support data through surveys and interviews of tenants conducted in 2018.  They also conducted interviews with homeless prevention providers, cross-referenced evictions with Medical Examiner’s records and examined the Department of Construction and Inspection records regarding code violations.

The researchers stress that the 1,218 evictions they reviewed do not comprise all of the evictions that occurred in Seattle in 2017, because many tenants leave before an eviction is filed.

A number of important findings came out of this research including:

  • The most common reason a tenant faced eviction was for nonpayment of rent; of all nonpayment of rent cases, 86.5% of evictions filings were for nonpayment of rent and of these more than half (52.3%) were for one month or less in rent
  • Women in single tenant households were more likely to be evicted over small amounts of money. Of the cases were a tenant owed $100 or less were 81% women.
  • In general, people of color were more likely to be evicted for smaller amounts of money. Black tenants faced the greatest disproportionality; they represent 31.2% of tenant with evictions filed against them, 4 times their demographic proportion of the population.
  • When tenants fall behind on rent due to an emergency they face very tight timelines to catch up before the eviction process begins. The majority of people (51.1%) received notices on or before the 9th day of the month, with only 3 days to pay after receiving a notice.
  • 87.5% of evicted respondents became homeless; with 37.5% ending up unsheltered, 25% living in a shelter or transitional housing, and 25% staying with friends or family.
  • When interviewed, tenants reported falling behind on rent because of loss of income (51.4%), a medical emergency (8.6%) and a death in the family (2.9%); 3% of respondents said that they could pay some, or all, of the rent owed.

The report also includes a number of recommendations.  These recommendations are divided into 3 categories; make it possible to pay rent, improve the Landlord-Tenant Relationship and Rebalance the Scales of Justice.  The recommendations include but are not limited to:

  • Require Landlords to Offer Payment Plans
  • Increase Time Period to Cure Nonpayment of Rent
  • Expand Cohabiting Rights to Help Address Affordability
  • Curb Abuses of Mutual Termination Agreements
  • Increase Coordinated Funds for Legal Defense and Tenant Outreach Funds
  • Provide Funding for an Eligible Guardian Ad Litem or Appointment of Counsel

You can read the sobering report in its entirety here.  You can watch the Women’s Commission presentation at the 9.21 CRUEDA meeting here and find additional presentation materials here.

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