My name is Carl and I’m from Real Change Advocacy. A lot of Real Change vendors are struggling because the cost of living in Seattle is very high, especially the apartment rents. I think all lawmakers in our country are responsible for creating this very unequal society, because they are the rule-makers of this game.
They are the root of the problem, and I’m not talking about just Seattle. If the lawmakers don’t want to change the rules, this problem will continue, and more people will become homeless. If the city government can’t force apartment rents down, they need to create apartments affordable at a reasonable price for everybody in Seattle.
They are responsible for the things going on in Seattle, because we elected them to take good care of us.
Our Advocacy Department wrote an article in the Real Change newspaper about social housing in the Oct. 27 issue — please read the article online; it’s short, but well written.
We need to create more affordable housing for people at every income level, not only low-income, but all-income housing. According to what I often hear, people shouldn’t pay more than one third of their income in rent. I’ve personally never liked the idea of rent. Why should someone born in this world need money to find a place to stay? That’s against the laws of nature, I think. I personally believe that rent should be free and all of the land should be owned by all human beings and every living creature.
Less than five years ago, I was managing a single-room occupancy apartment building by the intersection of Broadway and Jefferson. It wasn’t subsidized but was market rate. For more than 10 years, we rented rooms for between $200 and $500 a month, including every utility. Some tenants were paying $230 a month for that whole time, but my landlord managed to create a profit. The actual cost of operating apartment buildings does not seem as high as market prices show.
This sounds like communism, but if the government owns housing without any private-sector owners involved, then you don’t need to subsidize it, and no private entity can embezzle public funds. You can create more revenue and use the money to create more housing. If federal, state or county laws are preventing the city of Seattle from making something new and good and helpful for people, you shouldn’t worry about disobeying the law and just do what you think is right.
If the thing that you are trying to do is good and helpful for people, the whole country will recognize it and support your program. They are going to adjust or change the legislation that is preventing you from doing what you need to do. They’ll catch up with you. It’s just the other way to change the legislation — act first and worry later. Just like the civil rights movement.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.” Thomas Jefferson also said, “If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so.”
So please, don’t worry too much about breaking the law, if it is necessary. At any expense, please make Seattle more affordable and livable for everybody, especially poor and vulnerable people. Just like Jesus said, “If you want to be a leader, you must be a servant of homeless people.”
In the Bible, Jesus washed his disciples’ feet during the Last Supper. Metaphorically, the mayor and city councilmembers need to wash homeless people’s feet.
Thank you for your time.
Carl Nakajima is the Advocacy Vendor Intern at Real Change and a longtime vendor.
Read more of the Feb. 2-8, 2022 issue.