in partnership with

King County County Council (District 1): Sally Caverzan & Rod Dembowski


Note: We sent questionnaires to all King County Council candidates. We posted all responses that we received.


Question #1:

Zoning reform is necessary but not sufficient to address our housing needs. If elected, would you be willing to support and encourage zoning reform, what (if any) specific reforms would you like to see, and what will you do to see those reforms (if any) implemented?

Answer (SC):

First, I need to acknowledge that the land we are discussing is the legacy of our colonialism. It has only been 150 years since the Treaty of Port Elliot was signed before famously stealing the specific lands we occupy and all its resources. Our discussion of racial equity in housing, zoning and land use is remiss without including reparative action for the “original sin” of King County. At the very least, this type of reparation must ensure environmental stewardship, restoration of damage done, and protection of natural resources for the generations to come.

Zoning changes are necessary to allow us to broaden use of available cleared land rather than continuing to clear cut forested patches for new developments. Industrial land goes to waste with empty warehouses and cement parking lots. Areas where there are jobs need housing nearby if we wish to reduce our transportation carbon emissions. Mixed-use buildings bring vibrancy to neighborhoods and the economy. This is the direction I wish to go.

Answer (RD):

[Answer not yet submitted.]

 


Question #2:

While King County continues to grow, more and more communities become at risk for displacement and gentrification. If elected, what programs and policies would you pursue to preserve existing communities while encouraging the continued growth that the county needs to address our affordable housing crisis? Additionally, how would you make sure that existing and future affordable housing resources are being used in an equitable way?

Answer (SC):

Through my role as a Medicaid Longterm Care social worker, I am sadly extremely familiar with witnessing current systemic gentrification happening while literally transferring the disabled vulnerable adults out of the area as part of my job. The priced-out renters in Seattle are moved across the County to “affordable” areas like Renton or Federal Way. This may prevent them being homeless but it also uproots entire lives and chips away at the presence and stability of marginalized communities.

Answer (RD):

[Answer not yet submitted.]

 


Question #3:

Many of today’s housing policies from zoning to permitting have roots in racial discrimination and the long running effects of those policies continue to disproportionally harm black people and people of color. If elected, you will have an opportunity to address some of this while in office. With that in mind, how would you apply a racial equity lens to your work on the council and what specifically would you like to see that reflects that approach?

Answer (SC):

I believe that part of the land wealth of certain areas can be directly correlated back to historical land-use covenants. I am open to red-line reparations as a means of funding equity of opportunity. In other words, a nominal property tax on land over a substantial value in areas that held racial exclusion covenants. Such funds could be applied to improving equitable conditions whether that’s BIPOC small business loans, landlord-tenant dispute resolution and eviction prevention, or improving educational outcomes in non-white majority schools.

Answer (RD):

[Answer not yet submitted.]

 


Question #4:

The housing crisis in King County is very real and is multifaceted. No one problem or one solution can solve the entire crisis. But if you had a magic wand and could solve any one part of the affordable housing crisis, what would you do and why would you take that specific action?

Answer (SC):

A magic wand is NOT needed to accomplish my housing action goals. The magic wand I would instead use to change hearts and public opinion to uplift the quality of life of unhoused & low-income persons, to hold precious the lives of black and brown people, to value the presence of immigrant and refugee neighbors, to believe in the power of second chances for the rehabilitated and to eradicate the notions of the “deserving” and “undeserving” poor. The reason that I would choose a wand to solve these less tactile immeasurable goals is because these prejudicially-based barriers are what prevent us from funding affordable housing or other social programs. Our leaders do not choose to fund these programs because some of their loudest constituents do not value the lives those who would benefit most.

My pie in the sky is to provide re-integrative housing following inpatient drug and alcohol treatment. I was a housing case manager over a decade ago. Many of my clients had the trifecta (housing, employment and addiction woes). We KNOW that Housing-First models work but unless they have a housing voucher, a family or a disability there is no current realistic path. Finding & keeping employment is cumbersome enough already when living in a shelter. Odds get worse with addiction. Clean & sober living means removing oneself from the enabling, codependent or predatory environment. I can attest that there are scores of unhoused addicts who would go to treatment if they had a home to go to in the end. Discharging back to the streets undermines almost all the progress they may have made in a 21 day treatment stay. Few are willing to sacrifice or work so hard to land back where they started.

Another significant proposal that I bring with me is to create a program that allows individuals earn rent or utility credits paid to their landlord or utility company by contributing to the Public Good. In my time as a home visiting disability social worker, hundreds of clients begged for resources, money or interventions that could prevent eviction or utility cut-off. I have even had SPU/SCL inform me that for some of these individuals the past due balance is so high that even the most modest of repayment plans still exceeded a client’s monthly resources after rent. This was even before the pandemic. Many of these people would be willing to participate in a King County Conservation Corp doing environmental public service work. Since such credits would be paid directly to the company or landlord, this would be considered non-taxable income for the resident. Individuals or groups could donate earned credits to a struggling neighbor. As the eviction moratorium ends and the pandemic ensues, we prepare to see unprecedented numbers of first time homeless. This is a solution that is neither employment nor a financial hand-out. It is a tool for those who are in over their heads in rent or utility debt. It is intended to seal holes in our community fabric so landlords do not purge their good-faith tenants who are willing to give sweat equity to the common good.

Answer (RD):

[Answer not yet submitted.]

 


Question #5:

King County has done an admirable job in addressing the homelessness crisis with the Health Through Housing program, providing emergency and permanent supportive housing to those in need. However, affordable housing is more than just homeless shelters, permanent supportive housing, and low-cost rentals. Affordable housing also includes affordable homeownership opportunities. How do you see affordable homeownership fitting into the overall housing spectrum and what (if anything) should the county do to support it?

Answer (SC):

I believe it prudent to say that I prefer to build-up rather than out. This is primarily because I am an environmentalist who sees our greenspaces and tree canopy disappearing far too quickly, and largely in the name of building new single family housing developments. I believe that multi-family buildings, duplexes, 4-plexes, etc can provide the American Dream for more people while leaving the trees and forested areas for everyone’s benefit.

I believe that one way to also achieve increased homeownership is to stop allowing profiteers to hoard land. Investors are buying up lots to clear, tearing down livable houses, buying up cheaper properties to flip, etc while first or 2nd time home buyers cannot compete with these no contingency cash offers. Others are buying-up homes to list on Airbnb. I believe that we absolutely can find where to draw a line on how much property a single entity can own at a time, outside of its own business operations.

After all, stolen land was never ours to sell off in the first place. We can reduce further harm by stopping today’s greedy land grabs.

Answer (RD):

[Answer not yet submitted.]

 


Question #6:

Thanks to the Health Through Housing program and other various subsidies, funding is available for affordable housing. However, the need for more affordable housing continues to grow across King County. One idea that has been discussed is the creation of a county-wide housing levy. Do you support the creation of a county-wide housing levy and if so, what would it consist of, who would be served by it, and what Area Median Income (AMI) levels would you include?

Answer (SC):

I would support the creation of a housing levy including AMI levels up to at least 60%. I would be willing to go higher but I am not confident that the public support would be there. There is often more public support for families and seniors as they are characterized as the “deserving poor.” At lower AMI levels, it is crucial that we include funds that include the able-bodied single men. These are people who are less likely to catch a social-service break in life because they are expected to pull themselves up by their bootstraps even when barefoot. The longer they stay unhoused the more likely they are to fall prey to addiction or depression or violent crime. If instead they were offered housing stability, they could be more likely to find/keep employment and avoid eviction using earned income. The more people a levy can help, the better the entire community will fair.

Answer (RD):

[Answer not yet submitted.]

 


Question #7:

Do you support identifying and accessing new financial resources for affordable housing production outside of a levy, and if so, what would those resources be?

Answer (SC):

Yes, of course. As I mentioned above, I envision a King County Regional Treatment Facility to provide access to in-patient drug & alcohol treatment. This plan will only be successful if they discharge to homes instead of shelters & tents. This plan will hopefully reduce drug-fueled crime by preventing it, instead of the current model of reacting to it. In an age of “defunding” or “differently funding” the police, this would be a resource where I would reallocate funds. Investing in re-integrative housing and treatment instead of correctional facilities and military-grade equipment.

Answer (RD):

[Answer not yet submitted.]

 


2021 King County General Election: County Council (District 1), Questionnaire on Housing

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