Abdisalan Abdulle’s prospects for continued work look rocky. He does property maintenance in a residential tower downtown and has had conflicts with his supervisor. Once he was accused of using a tenant’s towel during a repair job, which he said never happened.
“Every day I go to work is my last day,” Abdulle said.
He’s not alone, he said. Lots of SHA residents work at jobs they could lose at a moment’s notice or jobs with variable hours and income.
SHA’s existing rent policy has them covered. To house his family — with three kids from 1 month to 5 years old — he pays 30 percent of his income no matter what he makes. He was afraid that under the Stepping Forward proposal, if he lost his job he would quickly lose his housing as the rents increased.
“When you lose your job, where are you going to get the money?” he asked. “Where are you going to stay? Where are these kids going to go?”
Abdulle is sympathetic to the SHA’s financial situation. He said residents possibly could pay more, but not with a system that charges flat rents that increase.
Abdulle’s proposal: Raise the rent from 30 percent of monthly income to 40 percent.
“At least it is still low-income,” he said. “It’s helpful to [SHA], and it does not hurt me that bad.”
Whatever SHA considers for the future, it should not involve a flat-rent structure, he said. That kind of proposal would hurt everyone — “Everyone who is low income,” Abdulle said.
“It’s not only Ethiopian, not only Somali, it’s not only Asain: All low-income people.”
Abdulle will continue to work on this cause throughout 2015, as SHA considers what to do about its rental structure. He’s been at the forefront of the discussion, leading community meetings at Yesler Terrace since this past summer.
He hopes that in the future, the Seattle City Council and Mayor Ed Murray will be allies to the residents.
“What we need is the big dogs working for us,” he said.
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