Once again, the Real Change Homeless Empowerment project gathered outside City Hall to ring a gong 6,320 times, once for every person found unsheltered during the annual point-in-time count held in January on a 41-degree night in the rain. The event coincided with a vote to repeal the Employee Hours Tax, a measure passed less than a month prior that was meant to raise $47.5 million per year for housing and homeless services that would, in theory, get some people off the street.
The proposal to repeal the tax was introduced June 11, surprising and shocking people who had worked for months to craft and support the tax. Real Change’s Advocacy Department abandoned plans to hold the gong event outside of the Amazon Spheres and relocated to the sidewalk outside of City Hall so that people could hear the sonorous booms which continued, unabated, for hours as council members heard testimony on the repeal.
The event became a game of cat and mouse with security as Real Change Founding Director Tim Harris, Lead Organizer Tiffani McCoy, Advocacy Associate Bri Little, Real Change vendors and supporters picked the gong up and paraded it inside, playing their way in. Councilmember Kshama Sawant, fresh off a press conference, took a few swings before security shut it down. A sojourn up through the second-floor council offices also ended in short order, but the event found its final home on the main floor balcony.
They will be out there next year, standing for Seattle’s least fortunate. How many times will the gong ring in 2019?
Ashley Archibald is a Staff Reporter covering local government, policy and equity. Have a story idea? She can be can reached at ashleya (at) realchangenews (dot) org. Follow Ashley on Twitter @AshleyA_RC
Wait, there's more. Check out the full June 13 - June 19 issue.
Real Change is a non-profit organization advocating for economic, social and racial justice. Since 1994 our award-winning weekly newspaper has provided an immediate employment opportunity for people who are homeless and low income. Learn more about Real Change.