Housing Champion Spotlight: Representative Jamila Taylor, House of Representatives District 30, Position 1
Our Housing Action Fund staff and advocates have been working hard since the end of our winter break. The legislative session started January 11, and we’ve built a ton of momentum as we gear up for the long session. We’re so excited to get to work with all of our housing champion lawmakers! Some held important hearings this week for rental assistance and others who are preparing for hearings next week on tenant protections.
Some of our newly elected endorsed candidates are planting their feet to make bold moves on increasing affordable housing, increasing funds and programming for housing services and tenant protections with a focus on racial equity and systems change.
This week, we are putting the spotlight on Representative Jamila Taylor from the 30th Legislative District who won by a large margin to start off her first term in office. She ran a strong campaign with homelessness and affordable housing as one of her top priorities. We are proud to share that Representative Taylor has recently been appointed as the Vice-Chair of the House Committee on Housing, Human Services and Veterans! And she couldn’t be better suited to help lead on these issues.
During our endorsement process, Representative Taylor shared that “Social and racial justice are two of my core values.” Her father, a retired Black History professor at the University of Washington taught her about African American history and structural racism from a very early age. She later joined organizations that had a commitment to address structural racism and provided leadership on diversity in broader-based community organizations. For example, she served as the Judicial Evaluation Committee chairperson for the Loren Miller Bar Association where she evaluated candidates for judicial positions using a racial justice and equity lens. She was also a statewide advocacy counsel for Northwest Justice Project who holds a deep commitment to racial equity in its core work in poverty law. She is bringing a wealth of experience and analysis around racial disparities in housing and homelessness, stating, “I am committed to working with you to help address these racial inequities and injustices.”
“We don’t have enough meaningful discussions around the root causes surrounding affordable housing and homelessness. In Olympia I will fight to ensure every family -- regardless of employment status and income -- can keep a roof over their head and access critical services.”
We are all thrilled to get to work with Representative Taylor over the session, knowing that our values are in alignment and she will do all she can to pass bills that will truly make a difference for people across the state, particularly those who are most vulnerable during this time.
Congratulations, gratitude and best wishes to you on your first term, Representative Taylor!
Legislative updates from Week Two
Two weeks in to the 2021 legislative session and we’ve hit the ground running! A lot of good bills have been heard in committee already, with advocates testifying remotely from all across the state.
Last week we saw hearings on the Capital and Operating budgets and we organized 48 testifiers in four separate hearings! Advocates spoke to the importance of housing investments like the Housing Trust Fund, and to the importance of enacting progressive revenue. Housing Alliance board member and Resident Action Project Steering Committee member, Jennifer Bereskin testified at the House Appropriations Committee in support of the Governor’s proposal to tax capital gains, saying in part: “I am in favor of SB 5096. I want you to understand that people like me who were born into poverty, didn’t wake up and want to be poor. We’ve had racist and classist policies that were set even before we were ever here…. Everybody needs to do their part. Everybody needs to ‘Yehow.’ We need to work together and push forward as one.”
This week saw multiple hearings, including several on tenant protections. Senator Kuderer’s bill to improve tenant protections and provide legal representation to tenants facing eviction (Senate Bill 5160) was heard on Wednesday. Dozens of people spoke to the need to keep tenants in their homes during and beyond the pandemic, including tenants who would be directly impacted, labor unions, legal services attorneys, children’s advocates, local elected officials, LGBTQ advocates, and others. Watch the SB 5160 hearing here!
Our policy director, Michele Thomas testified on the racial equity impact of this bill since Black, Latinx, and Indigenous people are more likely to be renters than white people and have been hit the hardest by the pandemic. The large majority of people who are not caught up on rent are people of color. Housing Alliance board member Mindy Woods, and Housing Action Fund board member Terri Anderson shared powerful testimony in support of this bill.
Other bills heard this week included Senator Das’s bill limiting rent increases for a year after the eviction moratorium ends (SB 5139), and Senator Kuderer’s bill (SB 5138) that closes a tax loophole for banks to fund affordable housing. (Consider adding something from rent control hearing)
On Friday Jan 22, Rep. Ormsby’s bill (HB 1277) to creating a rental assistance program to prevent evictions with a new document recording fee will be heard at 10am in the House Housing, Human Services and Veterans Committee. We are excited to have such a variety of advocates joining to weigh in on the need for rental assistance, including progressive realtors, health care professionals, tenants, affordable housing providers, and more!
You can Testify!
Next week the main bill to watch out for is HB 1236/Macri (our Just Cause bill), which has a hearing on Tuesday, Jan. 26 at 8am. We really need to turn out for this one, and if you would like to testify in favor of just cause protections or submit written testimony, follow the links. You can also sign in PRO to signify your support of the bill. Please email John at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to testify, and we will invite you to our prep session at 2:30 on Monday.
There will be lots of opportunities to speak up over the next 105 days. We’ll share updates via email regularly and you can also join our bi-weekly updates every other Friday, our next meeting will be on January 29. Register here!
Week of January 18th Hearings
Last week several key bills that will prevent evictions and homelessness were dropped and this week several of them have bill hearings. We need your support to make that lawmakers know the importance of these bills.
SB 5160 Hearing: Eviction Prevention, Senator Kuderer, Senate Housing & Local Government Committee, Thursday January 21, 8am -10am.
SB 5139 Hearing: Limiting rent increases after the eviction moratorium expires, Senate Housing & Local Government Committee, Wednesday Jan 20, 2021 10:30.
The Housing Alliance & Action Fund Are Calling On All Nonprofits and Local Governments to Adopt a Resolution in Support of Progressive State Revenue
Balance Our Tax Code is kicking off legislative session in a big way with a week of action on progressive revenue! Washingtonians know that our state is a great place to live, work, and raise a family. But we also know that our tax code is upside-down: Washingtonian’s with the lowest incomes pay 17% of that income into state and local taxes, while the wealthy few pay just 3%. It doesn’t have to be this way. Join us this session in telling your legislators that it's time to pass progressive revenue to help support community recovery from the pandemic.
Washington State has one of the most regressive tax codes in the United States. This means those who make the least amount of income pay on average 17.8% of their earnings in taxes, but the top 1% of income earners pay just 3% of their income in taxes. Read about the negative racial equity impacts of our state’s regressive tax code in “Washington’s Tax Code is an Untapped Resource to Advance Racial Justice” by the Washington State Budget & Policy Center.
During economic downturns and state budget deficits, human services funding is among the first budget areas to be considered for cuts to make up for revenue losses. Cuts to human services have disproportionate impacts on Washington’s lowest income communities and on communities of color – the very communities paying the highest percentage of their income in state taxes.
This legislative session, we have an unprecedented opportunity to ensure that our tax code is more equitable and capable of robustly investing in our community needs! Do you want to help us get there? Join the growing list of organizations and public entities that have expressed clear support for state progressive revenue by introducing a resolution at an upcoming board meeting or council meeting! Click this link to learn more. Read below about why the YWCA Seattle/King/Snohomish passed a resolution.
“This resolution supports YWCA’s work to eliminate racism, empower women, and break down systemic barriers that make it harder for women in our region to thrive, especially BIPOC women. Now is the time to pull together, demand bold action, and advance long-term solutions that increase investments in critical resources that benefit all of us.” Lisa Schaures, Board Chair, YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish
- Join a group of organizations and public entities that have expressed clear support for state progressive revenue by introducing a resolution at an upcoming board meeting or council meeting!
- If you are a nonprofit board member or director, get started here!
- If you are a local elected official, contact John Stovall at email@example.com for sample resolution language.
LEND YOUR VOICE TO PREVENT EVICTIONS & HOMELESSNESS
To prevent the pandemic from causing a wave of evictions and increased homelessness, Washington renters need rental assistance and better protections from losing their homes. If you haven't told your lawmakers that already this week, please head over to the Housing Alliance website and send a message today!
Click Here to Take Action, and ask your lawmakers to protect tenants from evictions and homelessness! THANK YOU!
Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Days: Monday Feb. 8 - Friday Feb. 12
We hope you have your calendar marked for Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Days, February 8 – 12. We’ll kick off the week with a virtual welcome and advocacy workshops and end with a virtual Rally for Homes. Virtual meetings with lawmakers will take place all week. Register by January 22 (Today) to receive a personalized schedule 1-2 weeks ahead of HHAD, according to your legislative district. Registration is free and open to everyone! Learn more and register here. Everyone can still register up until February 8th.
To help you prepare for the virtual session, you can watch a recording of our webinar: Preparing for the 2021 Legislative Session for Housing and Homelessness Advocates. Or catch up on our Building Momentum webinar series for deep dives into our policy priorities. We can keep people healthy and housed, and come out of the pandemic stronger than before, but only if enough people speak up. Thank you for taking action today!
The Washington Housing Alliance Action Fund and Washington Low Income Housing Alliance are looking for two people to join our staff team full-time!
Statewide Organizer: The person in this exciting position leads the work of the Resident Action Project (RAP), building power with residents of affordable housing communities, people who have experienced homelessness, and housing provider allies to impact policy change.
We're looking someone who is passionate about building power through organizing people directly impacted by our work. You should have the organizing chops to jump into an established program and help it become more focused and sustainable by developing new leaders from within the membership, and by inspiring and leveraging support from nonprofit housing providers statewide. You should be excited by RAP’s potential to advance and inform Housing Alliance policy priorities.
Finance and Operations Manager: This important position is responsible for day-to-day financial management, making sure our systems are in good working order, and ensuring our staff team has the tools they need to advance our mission.
We’re looking for someone who is experienced in nonprofit finance, committed to advancing equity and racial justice in key areas of responsibility like hiring and onboarding, and who is both diligent about maintaining strong systems and creative enough to adapt where needed so that advocates living on low incomes can fully participate in our programs.