Sunday, June 10, 2007

Recap for May 27, 2007

We had guests today.

Rose Ehart UP City Council Candidate
Lauren Walker Tacoma City Council Candidate
Marilyn Strickland Tacoma City Council Candidate
Laura James Tacoma School Board Candidate

We heard Noah’s Story and something that was apparent to all is that one of the most important things in his life are relationships.

Tom introduced candidates by saying they are running for positions that will have to make decisions about fair housing and other issues relevant to this group and the city as a whole, especially the affordable housing moratorium.

Rose Ehart:

Background in real estate. Property management etc. Passion for people in need. Raised with as a value. Many times as a property manager, someone’s rental check would come back that they didn’t pay Sears bill, but they did pay the rent. (Sometimes you need to get mercy), would look at the things that matter. Lots of prejudices about people and whether they should live in certain “really nice” properties. Work with people on fair housing comes back to you positively. Do not want our city to be pricing people out. Will be pushing housing affordability not affordable housing.

Marilyn Strickland:

Mom and dad bought a $15,000 house, but it took her until 40 years old to buy first home. Understands affordability issue. Live downtown and see maybe 5 people pf color in bldg. Construction projects going up, need for jobs and apprenticeships, especially people of color.

Lauren Walker:

Runs a non-profit housing discrimination organization. Want to get rid of as first thing: the “no low income housing in downtown” approach. Lived in Hilltop for last 17 years. Only place that could afford. Had lived in Boston in richly diverse community. Became president of HAC. Focused on home ownership to build more stability in neighborhood. She thinks it had more of an impact than block watches. However, now what we have is gentrification. Instead of just letting market forces determine what kinds of development on Hilltop, especially MLK, we should be using zoning laws to ensure that mixed use development happens.

Laura James:

She has not yet made a public announcement about candidacy but intends to seek eection to the Tacoma School Board. Has been a substitute teacher and worked with administration. Is a citizen of the US and has lived here for over 30 years, and in Tacoma for 25.

Volunteer at Al Davies, 1st VP of Assoc. of Colored Women’s Clubs—looking for a new bldg. (hopefully prices will not go up too much), on board of Maxine Mimms Academies. Concerned about drop outs. Has also worked with JRA (met Noah there and brought him on board with their activities).

Priorities were to get educated in preparation for running for this office. Undergrad degree in Phys Ed. and master’s degrees in Org Systems Renewal and in Ed. Leadership. Need to design programs for kids who have trouble to ensure they have a place to be while we help them get straight.


One member talked about being a LatchKey kid and how hugely helpful that was to her mother. Also, transition from elementary to middle school is very difficult.

Question: what would candidates do to ensure that Hilltop remains mixed, culturally and economically.

Marilyn: As an example-Brown’s Star Grill (a community landmark recently shut down by the city)--what if we had a development in that old building and had a library housed as ground floor tenant as anchor that draws people.

Another member talked about Weed and Seed, Empowerment Zones etc. and how they are “pimped” all over the country. What if neighborhood people could apply for funding to grow a project in the neighborhood.

Lauren: re market forces—simple things, such as requiring the use of people of color in advertising—one thing Fair Housing is doing is as part of a grant to analyze who people have sold homes to and then look for gaps. Have housing providers and developers think together about building community rather than just buildings.

Marilyn: You want developers here, but have to balance respect for fact that they want to make money.


Get public involved and learn what needs are, incentives to builders, we're going to give tax breaks, but with strings. It’s more than building a project, it’s community building. You’re going to have to pull in people from different income ranges, hire diverse people so they have the income to buy. Not just $ that have to pencil out. Need to have an active council that brings the people in so they are not ignored.

Tom-Housing Affordability Part 2

Through regulation we design communities. If we were going to make room for homeless, for affordability we have to pay attention. Created a task force 2006. Commend the workbook on Housing Affordability that the task force produced to the candidates in the room.
Charged with addressing housing needs for all economic sectors with focus on low income.

Tom gave the Executive Summary of the report.

The full text of the report is available at our new companion site Conversation Documents.

37,000 unit housing shortfall is a high pitch to hit. Have to convince 22 cities and towns that they need to share the burden. This is the issue that will be before the regional council.

Fair share in 2022 would mean that in unincorporated area we would need 5,000+ housing units.

Tacoma 8,000+, etc.

Affordable Housing was a market concept—looked at housing available in market and looked at what was most affordable.

Housing affordability looks at it from a renter/seller standpoint—should not be more than 30% of income.

Marilyn: Has Tacoma City council seen and approved? Tom—they need to but don’t think they have. These need to get to the cities and towns, but approach has been to get buy in from regional council first.

Lauren: commends Tom and the task force (very diverse). Question of how affordability is bad is a perception in the public. Did task force deal with that? Tom—yes, in the report you’ll see examples of attempts to educate folks.

One member-advertising that shows diversity doesn’t just tell people of color that they’re welcome, but also is important for people used to white privilege that they need to get used to mixed neighborhoods.

One member who lived in historic McIlveigh bldg. never could afford a home. Got hit by a bus and got a home. Need to deconstruct the term affordable housing. Land in downtown is owned and there is no room for housing.


Listening to the conversation about housing really opens her eyes. It seems we have to look at our language about affordable housing.

Lauren: Even fair share is a difficult concept to get people to accept, it being used to describe housing/programs.

One member talked about the issue of “public perception” and which “public” it is that we are talking about. It is a certain segment—white middle and upper class folks and they are the ones with the most political and economic clout and they get what they want.

Another talked about the race and class dynamics as well as the language that sometimes reinforces the perceptions out there, even words like “burden”.

Moral & Philosophical Question:

Dexter began by reminding us that US society is anchored by its Judeo-Christian heritage and its concepts of justice and fairness.

He read to us from Micah Ch. 2 "Woe to those who devise iniquity...

and work evil on their beds!"

And Psalms 113 "Who is like unto the Lord—he raises the poor from the dust…"

National Alliance to End Homelessness notes that homelessness is a recent phenomenon which really started in the 60’s and exploded in the 80s in the move to deinstitutionalize the mentally ill.

A Canadian journalist won an award for a report on homelessness in LA—10,000 live in a tent city.

In 1964, MLK noted that The US has the resources to end poverty. Bookbinder said that adequate resources were available (3 trillion would be needed), but was not dismayed as he acknowledged that it could be done.

MLK Jr. was quite harsh on tokenism. "He who sells you the token instead of the coin always retains the power to revoke it’s worth.”

Look at people in political office in this city. Love to promote that we are the most diverse population in state—but look at city council. A few black faces in high places, a few brown still around, but black and brown agenda is still on the ground. Obama can be applauded, but he is only one of 100 senators.

1,185 Americans have served in senate, only 5 have been black 2 were appointed to finish seats left vacant.

92 years before Edward Brook elected in 1967

36 years after that until Carol Mosely Braun.

35 women, right now 16 among the 100.

You running have a double responsibility—have to work hard to create coattails so others can come on board also.

Close front door open the back door and make sure that homeless move quickly to get into homes.

Why do we have homelessness? Housing stock has declined and real income has declined.

One member talked about Harry Shearer’s interview with Al Gore and regard to Iraq war it’s American people’s complacency that perpetuates the war and other injustices.

A response was, ask not for whom the bell tolls, addressed specifically to the author of The Assault on Reason.

One member suggested that there are some buildings that could be refurbished to house homeless.


People of color and women have both diminished. How do we get the youth of today to be interested in politics?

Dexter: It should come as no surprise to us that the top 1% of households owned 50% of corporate wealth in US. Elected officials are squarely in this category. After 10 years of declines of real earnings, the paltry min. wage is increased only as part of war spending bill.


Even at the local level you have to have money to win.


Dear Superintendent Milligan letter is available. A member brought copies. Impetus was a meeting in community to draw attention to the issue of morale, superintendent’s lack of responsiveness etc.

One member had an opportunity to meet with TPS union about nexus of interests between them and citizens and how to send a message on June 14th. If changes resonate with you, consider signing petition.

2 members quoted in TNT about Milligan

A member offered the idea that young people love doing jobs, so if you have access to a work party and offer hot dogs, get kids in on the process of the work party.

Rose: If no plans for this Fri night campaign kick off. Party with some regular people As well as some elected officials. 5:30-7:30 UP Town Hall

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