City Council protects hotel workers
The Seattle City Council passed four bills aimed at protecting hotel employees, winning them additional wages to cover health care, panic buttons, protections against sexual assault or harassment and a modification to the rules around employment should the hotel change hands.
Hotel industry representatives opposed the sweeping changes and voiced their disapproval during public comment, but it was the workers — in a sector dominated by women and people of color — who won the day.
The four pieces of legislation were a substitute for an initiative passed by the people of Seattle in 2016. However, the hotel industry successfully challenged the initiative in court.
It’s possible that the hotel industry will try to overturn at least parts of this legislation through the judicial branch as well, but the core tenants of the legislation will remain, warned Mayor Jenny Durkan.
The passage was met with ire from an unexpected corner. The owner of popular Seattle chain Biscuit Bitch, sent a scathing letter to the city, claiming her business would be impacted unfairly because it shares space in a hotel.
This turned out to be incorrect.
Homelessness puzzles White House
The White House weighed in on the national homelessness crisis in a 41-page paper that has left homeless service providers fuming.
The report was drafted by the Council of Economic Advisors, a body that does not, in fact, have expertise in homelessness.
The group posits correctly that high regulatory thresholds in cities with the highest concentrations of homeless people depresses the housing supply and drives up costs, leaving people with nowhere to go but the streets. They also note that some factors, such as mental illness, increase the risk that a person will become homeless.
It goes off the rails from there.
The paper then blames mild weather for homelessness, saying that “more tolerable conditions for sleeping on the streets … increases homelessness,” but then goes on to say that “rates are nonetheless low in some warm places” and the unsheltered homeless population is “over twice as large as expected” in states like Washington, California, Nevada and Oregon.
Next, the authors assert that the provision of shelter encourages homelessness, specifically attacking right-to-shelter policies like those embraced by New York and Boston. These cities have rates of sheltered homelessness that are “at least 2.7 times as high as the rate in every other city.” They do not mention the ratio of sheltered to unsheltered homeless in those other cities, instead sticking to the line that shelter precludes permanent housing.
One thing they got right: “Due to decades of misguided and faulty policies, homelessness is a serious problem.”
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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