About the header photo: Fox News’ Kennedy called Seattle a “socialist hellhole” in a July 12 broadcast. We wish!
Temperatures dipped below freezing in Seattle this week, and emergency shelters are open to try and help Seattle’s houseless maintain homeostasis overnight. If you thought this would be the worst possible time to cut funding for programs for the houseless, for one, you’d be right, and for two, we regret to inform you that we live in the worst possible times. It’s not all bad news, though– advocates for the voiceless and houseless is Seattle are standing up to demand solutions, and at least some of Washington’s politicians appear to be listening. This year, we’re gonna have to replace our caroling with protesting, but we never liked the sound of our own singing voices anyway. Welcome to the Hellhole.
A (short) list of organizations and programs the city just left out in the cold
Last Monday the city revealed how they plan to spend $34 million worth of human services funding. What they were less forthcoming about was the $50 million worth of services they opted not to fund.
For background on Seattle’s shift to a “rapid-rehousing” strategy to get people off the streets, see last week’s Hellhole. In the meantime, here’s a short and by-no-means-exhaustive list (link downloads a spreadsheet compiled by C is for Crank) of a few of the organizations and services that took devastating hits:
- Alliance for People with disAbilities: $192,504 not funded for diversion programs (defined by the city as “one‐time, light touch intervention, designed to keep people from entering the homeless system.” Examples of diversion tactics are “debt reduction, legal assistance, moving costs, background checks and documentation procurement.”)
- Bailey-Boushay House: $879,457 not funded for emergency services. The Bailey-Boushay House is a “nationally recognized facility in Seattle offering Residential Care and Chronic Care Management programs for people living with AIDS.” It is part of Virginia Mason.
- Dignity for Divas: $267,862 not funded for outreach and engagement through the organization’s Diva Duty program. Diva Duty assembles volunteers to distribute personal and feminine hygiene kits at emergency shelters around Puget Sound.
- Elizabeth Gregory Home: $75,000 not funded for emergency services. The Elizabeth Gregory home provides aid to single houseless women in the greater Seattle area through a drop-in day center, transitional housing program and case management services.
- Ingersoll Gender Center: $84,375 not funded for prevention services in the form of peer led transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC) support groups. The Ingersoll Gender Center, formed in 1977, is “one of the oldest organizations of, by and for transgender and gender diverse [people] in the United States,” according to their website.
- Muslim Housing Services: $131,700 not funded for rapid re-housing services. Muslim Housing Services services has served houseless families in Seattle and King County since 1999. Clients are primarily refugees and second migration immigrants from East Africa, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and other parts of Africa.
- Real Escape from the Sex Trade: $154,479 not funded for the Emergency Receiving Center. The receiving center provides emergency shelter access and drop-in services, as well as 24/7 crisis intervention support for individuals seeking to escape the sex trade via the REST Hotline.
- Recovery Cafe: $494,521 not funded for emergency services at the Recovery Cafe. The cafe provides a supportive community for people struggling with houselessness and substance addiction. Perhaps ironically, the cafe was founded in 2003 “as a direct response to the critical, unmet need of long-term recovery support for those who suffer on the margins—forgotten or ignored.”
- Seattle Indian Health Board: $251,879 not funded for the Thunderbird Treatment Center. The center provides chemical dependency services for the urban American Indian and Alaska Native populations in King County.
- Somali Youth and Family Club: $381,032 not funded for permanent supportive housing. The organization has provided English classes, after-school care, help with naturalization and citizenship forms, housing and other crucial services to Somali and other underserved communities in King County since 2007.
- BONUS: This statement on Facebook from SHARE, which lost out on $694,153 and as a result may not be able to continue their crucial work, is a raw and open invitation to Mayor Durkan and the city’s leadership to step away from their spreadsheets and experience houselessness firsthand. “SHARE would like to formally extend an invitation to each of you to spend two nights and a bit of the day in between with us,” they write. “Many of us have concluded that the privilege and power you have in your work environment make it next to impossible for you to understand our lives and deaths.”
Chinga la Migra
This is chilling. With the Trump administration empowering Immigration and Customs Enforcement to stalk and detain undocumented community members without impunity, those of us privileged to be on the outside of these situations can only imagine how Aburto Gutierrez feels today. Gutierrez was recently followed from his home to the grocery store and stopped by ICE, who detained him as retaliation for speaking to the media last month about his girlfriend’s own detainment (nauseatingly, ICE officers had found her by answering her online ad selling a piñata). Racist manhunting and imprisonment aside, such outrageous treatment discourages the most marginalized in our neighborhoods to come forward to seek help or speak out against oppression, let alone feel part of a community that relies upon their tireless work. Gutierrez is detained at Northwest Detention Center, where regional DSA chapters are holding a vigil, Saturday, December 9 at 1 PM.
Cleaning House at City Hall
And now for some good news– Seattle domestic workers are beginning to organize to demand health insurance, benefits, and an end to wage theft. In cooperation with Working Washington, domestic workers like nannies, in-home care providers, and housecleaners are launching a new campaign to take control of their compensation. Seattle’s large population of tech workers at Amazon is notoriously overworked, so many of them are turning to nannies and housecleaners to help them fill in the gaps in their lives. However, this boom in business hasn’t led to increased protections for domestic workers, many of whom work as independent contractors and are therefore more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse at work. Domestic workers deserve the same protections and respect afforded to all workers, and the only way to seize those protections is to organize.
Rent Control Now
Also organizing in Seattle: renters and tenants rights advocates, who after a long fight have finally begun to convince Washington state politicians that tenant protections like rent control are something that their constituencies might want. As protesters made their voices heard inside a convention for local landlords, state representative Nicole Macri pledged to support a bill overturning Washington’s outdated ban on rent control.
Seattle’s housing crisis is worse than ever, as landlords and developers are taking advantage of Seattle’s tech gold rush to charge outrageous rents and displace lower-income tenants, some of whom may have no other choice than to sleep outside. Despite what Seattle centrists and decorum-worshippers try to say, the only way to get what you need is to demand it.
Ellensburg, it’s Your Move
This week, high-ranking State Representative Matt Manweller (R-Ellensburg) was revealed to have been the target of investigations into the sexual harassment, assault and stalking of his students at Central Washington University. Were it not sickening enough that the callous Manweller propositioned students at bars, during office hours and had even followed one home, the legislator has been stridently anti-worker and anti-activist, marking a correlation between sexual, political and economic oppression, qualities which should be anathema to a member sitting on the State House’s Labor and Workplace Standards Committee, let alone public life.
“A Pause, Not a Permanent Stop”
With the excuse of the company examining “a more comprehensive commuting benefit,” Alaska Airlines has nixed a $60 monthly subsidy for its employees, nationally, to purchase mass transit passes. This, of course, is nothing less than a pay cut for the 435 employees that need passes in the Seattle area, alone, where large employers are required to make “good faith” efforts to reduce employees driving alone to work. Additionally, with Seattle metro workers having a harder time being able to afford to live close to work, this is insult to injury.
What we read this week: Capitalism ❤s patriarchy. Here’s how we smash it
Fresh off a presentation at our General Meeting from the SDSA Socialist Feminist committee about how socialism must include feminism to be truly liberatory, Seattle DSA member and Jon Grant Field Organizer Shaun Scott published a blistering column in City Arts magazine about the material foundations of sexual harassment in the workplace.
“A kind of economic revolution may have occurred as women became professionals, but there was no accompanying social revolution to change the attitudes of the men they worked with,” he writes of the slow introduction of women into the waged labor force. “The entry of women into the workforce didn’t suddenly inspire men to treat them as equals; rather, the shift provided men opportunity to reassert their dominance in the form of unequal pay and sexual assault.”
Ultimately, the notion that the workplace could liberate and empower women was doomed from the start because it’s built on capitalism, and we all know capitalism is not interested in liberation or upsetting existing systems of power. He proposes a solution: “What we need instead is a social feminism that protects women everywhere without tying their worth to where they happen to fall on the food chain of wage labor.” We agree, and we’ve got a plan to get there.
- While you’re at it, the same Socialist Feminist committee that presented at the General Meeting also wrote a statement of solidarity with survivors. The general membership voted overwhelmingly to support the statement.
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Hellhole is written by members of the Seattle DSA communications team. Unless expressly stated, Dispatches do not necessarily reflect the views of Seattle DSA as an organization or its leadership.