Nikkita Oliver (they/them) / Not Aligned
As we re-open we must: prioritize workers; address the housing crisis; make downtown an arts & culture destination; & establish a safety net for workers that includes prevailing wages, healthcare, hazard pay, & dignified working conditions. The health of our most vulnerable workers & residents dictates how we recover.
During the pandemic, according to LinkedIn data, for every tech worker who left, the industry pulled in 2.2 workers. Continuing to pursue progressive taxation is necessary to fund social, affordable, green housing for all. Affordable housing near downtown means workers can live close to work; increasing daytime & nighttime presence. It will also decrease commute times, support the hospitality industry, and help us achieve our climate goals.
Commercial rent control in Seattle is good for small businesses. The City Council did already pass relevant legislation. Unfortunately, prohibitions in the legislation only remain in effect until the civil emergency is terminated. This ordinance provides protections in the form of rent control, repayment plan requirements, & prohibition on late fees, interest, & other charges. We must make this permanent.
During the COVID-19 crisis public transportation was made free. We have heard from workers that, in the least, maintaining a ride free zone will contribute to making downtown more accessible. But, of course, simply making transportation free would benefit us all.
Reactivating downtown means supporting arts, culture, & hospitality. The City of Seattle can provide funding to support revitalization through RFP that small businesses, venues, and community organizations can apply for to bring arts & culture back to downtown attracting visitors & encouraging workers to spend more time downtown outside of work hours.
Workers should have every protection possible. We should maintain free covid testing sites for workers until we know the crisis is over. We should put in place a citywide mask mandate in all indoor businesses. It should not be the responsibility of workers to ask for vaccination cards which may cause hostility. The safest way to proceed is to require everyone wear masks inside businesses until it is safe.
There are a myriad of reasons why people are without homes that do not include drugs or mental health. Thousands of Seattlites are facing the possibility of homelessness if we do not address the eviction crisis. We must defund ineffective public safety systems & invest in humane, dignified solutions. Sweeping people and criminalizing poverty, mental health, and drug use is not preventative. In fact it forces people into a detrimental cycle of instability worsening the crisis.
We must provide radical accessibility for residents without homes by prioritizing services and housing. There are hotels in downtown Seattle that are closing. Seattle can work with King County to purchase these hotels as a mid-term solution to the crisis. We must also invest more public safety dollars in a diversity of supports such as city-wide mental health teams, substance use support centers, de-escalation teams (not connected to police), safe lot programs, and tiny house villages.
COVID-19 exacerbated pre-existing crises and inequalities. There is no substitute for building housing, developing pipelines into prevailing wage jobs, and generating revenue through progressive taxation to address these crises.