Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) is pushing a proposal called “Stepping Forward” that could kick many low-income tenants out of their homes. The plan would raise rent for households with at least one “work-able” adult: anyone between 24-61 who does not have a disability that prevents them from holding a job. Residents, whose rent is typically set at the federal standard of 30 percent of income, would see rent hikes of up to 400 percent over 5 years. SHA says it will provide resources to help tenants find good paying jobs or start a business. But the rent goes up regardless. Tenants are saying no!
Stepping Forward will disproportionately impact single mothers, immigrants and people of color. Seattle moms already face many roadblocks including some of the nation’s most expensive childcare and one of the largest gender wage gaps.
But tenants of all backgrounds are aligning with community activists to fight back. East African women are especially vocal leaders, raising the hiring discrimination against immigrants, and lack of living wage jobs. The movement is pressuring SHA commissioners to dump the plan and demanding that city officials stand up for low-income residents. Some SHA workers oppose the plan and are turning to their union for help.
At a capacity-crowd forum sponsored by Radical Women and Freedom Socialist Party, speakers described the plan’s devastating effects. Tenants denounced SHA’s patronizing attitudes and questioned how the agency spends its money.
The federal “Move to Work” authority allows SHA to turn from housing the poorest to overseeing a privatizing sell-off of public land to developers. Stopping Stepping Forward is crucial for preserving public and subsidized housing in the region and nationally.
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