Cooperation makes it happen
Seattle will invest nearly $5 million to fund an affordable housing cooperative in south Seattle.
The project, located at Othello Square on Martin Luther King Jr. Way, will include small-business assistance and affordable commercial space as well as market-rate and affordable homes. There will be 68 affordable units.
The goal of the development is to prevent displacement and help people build familial wealth, according to a press release.
“As Seattle has grown, we have seen far too many communities, particularly low-income communities and communities of color, pushed out of their homes,” Durkan said. “With our investment in Othello Square, we are helping ensure families and small-business owners can stay in their neighborhoods and have more access to true economic opportunity.”
Seattle is desperately in need of more affordable housing. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Washington state has only 29 units that are both affordable and available to extremely low-income households. In the Seattle-Bellevue area, a person needs to earn $36.12 per hour to afford the average two-bedroom apartment.
Home ownership options at the development are open to people who make 80 percent of median income or below, which is roughly $80,250 for a family of four.
Hate crimes on the rise
Hate crimes and incidents with bias elements have skyrocketed since 2012, according to a new report by Seattle’s auditor.
A hate crime is a criminal act, often involving assault, threats or property damage that is perpetrated because of some perceived characteristic of the victim such as housing status, sexual orientation, religion or race. A “bias incident” is something with the same motivations but doesn’t rise to the level of criminality, such as hateful speech.
Hate crimes in Seattle increased by 346 percent between 2012 and 2018, according to the report. “Non-criminal bias incidents,” also called “offensive bias comments” jumped by 448 percent in the same time period.
Overall, assaults that involved a hate element increased by 524 percent since 2012. Half of those involved a racial bias. More than half of hate crimes that involved a racial bias were against Black people.
According to the report, hate crimes typically occurred near bus stops and high traffic areas that “result in more interactions between strangers and diverse groups.”
Convictions for “malicious harassment,” the technical name for a hate crime, is still quite low. Of the 398 reports to the Seattle Police Department, 128 were referred for prosecution, 87 were prosecuted and 37 of those resulted in conviction.
Of those prosecuted, 43 percent were convicted of the same crime of which they were charged, 25 percent were convicted of a different crime and 21 percent had the case dismissed or transferred to King County Mental Health Court.
While the audit didn’t explicitly look at whether existing resources were enough to handle the increase in hate crimes, the auditor did say that the city “may want to evaluate the resources dedicated to hate crime investigations and outreach.”
Let them eat … nothing
The Trump administration floated a proposal to change how the United States calculates the poverty line, a switch that would cut millions from the basic social safety net.
The poverty line is used to determine who is eligible for various government assistance programs including food stamps and health care. It’s typically calculated by multiplying the cost of food by three, a cost that is adjusted by inflation. The administration is proposing using the “chained” Consumer Price Index (CPI) instead of the regular CPI. The former assumes that people find substitutions for items that rise in cost, so it’s lower than the latter.
The effect would be that the poverty line, already a deeply problematic way of calculating need, would rise more slowly, artificially cutting low-income households off of public benefits without raising their income.
“This proposal is entirely discretionary on the part of the Administration. No statute or regulation requires it to alter the methodology for updating the poverty line. Rather, the Administration is choosing to consider a policy that would weaken basic assistance programs and thereby increase hardship,” said Sharon Parrott, senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Scooters could be coming to Seattle?
Mayor Jenny Durkan released a tepid endorsement of e-scooters in a statement that managed to highlight the danger inherent in riding one and the potential negative impact on Seattle’s existing bike-share network.
Durkan previously opposed bringing scooters to Seattle’s sidewalks, citing the peril of riding them. That concern was borne out by a study released in May by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which found that 45 percent of injuries sustained by scooter riders involved head trauma. Much of that could have been prevented by wearing a helmet, according to the CDC.
Helmet use will be part of the consideration as the pilot comes together, as well as hours of use, parking, speed, data collection and potential fines.
“Let’s bring scooters to Seattle focused on these principles with a thoughtful, well-planned pilot that allows our bike share program to continue to grow and thrive,” Durkan wrote in a press release.
The CDC study looked at data from the program in Austin, Texas, gathered during two months in the latter half of 2018. Researchers found only 271 people with scooter-related injuries, many of which could have been prevented by helmet use. Fewer than 1 percent of scooter riders identified in the study wore a helmet.
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
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