Summary written by Karen Studders (Eastside Interfaith Coordinator, Consultant with the Church Council of Greater Seattle – Convener of Eastside Interfaith Gathering)
On July 6, 2021 the Eastside Interfaith Gathering (EIG) held a Celebration of Gratitude & Thanksgiving to “Keep People Housed”. Six of seven invited legislators spent a Tuesday summer evening with us further demonstrating that East/North King County voices – and specifically faith voices – made a difference this legislative session. EIG members put our “Keep People Housed” campaign into action and, partnered with the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, WLIHA, and together we succeeded.
Learn more about the legislative priorities the interfaith community organized around together this legislative session (and how we made them happen!) here: https://thechurchcouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/FINAL-LEAD-AGENDA-2021.pdf AND here are the results: https://www.wliha.org/blog/sine-die-2021
Thank you for taking the time to learn about this vital community work and the systemic changes we are bringing about together. Thank you also to all members of the interfaith community who responded to EIG’s calls for action and participated in the Eastside Interfaith Gathering’s campaign and followed suggestions and wrote and called Washington State Legislators on legislation and the Governor on the eviction moratoriums to “Keep People Housed”.
Remember, it’s never the wrong time of year to write your legislators and thank them for their service and support for our most vulnerable neighbors and their leadership and legislation to “Keep People Housed”! And we heard directly from a Senator at this meeting that it is not only ok, but it is vital for interfaith voices to be raised to all state legislators serving on the respective committees that any bill is being heard in. See all Washington State Legislative Committees listed here: https://leg.wa.gov/legislature/Pages/CommitteeListing.aspx
Some quotes about home, affordable housing and shelter from the gathering:
“Home is where a person belongs, is accepted and feels safe.” – Rep. My-Linh Thai
“Home is the foundation of who we are and is an essential need, unlike a car or computer. Housing provides stability, security and is the base from which all flows.” – Sen. Patty Kuderer
“[With passage of HB 1220] Local governments must pay attention to affordable housing and shelter in their cities/counties – this is a fundamental shift in land use planning in our State.” – Rep. Larry Springer
“Keeping people housed is cheaper and better than providing them housing after they experience homelessness. Set up systems so people don’t lose their housing.” – Rep. Bill Ramos
How to watch the Zoom recording of the EIG Gratitude Celebration with Legislators:
- Ensure you have the most up-to-date version of Zoom software on your device.
- In case you don’t want to watch the full hour and a half, this PDF shows what was discussed at what time so you can watch the parts you’re most interested in.
- Use the link and passcode below to access the recording via Zoom:
- LINK: https://bit.ly/2TvSp1Y
- PASSCODE: 7/6Celebrate
Summary of July 6, 2021 Eastside Interfaith Gathering, EIG Celebration and Gratitude to “Keep People Housed”:
Six Washington State Legislators from four legislative districts met with us for an hour. They shared our impact and encouraged us to not hesitate to request future meetings.
- Legislative District 5 – Bill Ramos
- Legislative District 41 – My-Linh Thai
- Legislative District 45 – Larry Springer
- Legislative District 45 – Senator Manka Dhingra
- Legislative District 48 – Amy Walen
- Legislative District 48 – Senator Patty Kuderer
Three legislators participated in a panel (Rep. Thai, Rep. Springer and Sen. Kuderer). They summarized four pieces of legislation we advocated for – covering the intent, amendments made, and why the legislation is important:
- HB 1236 – Just Cause now required before evictions, 14 causes for eviction allowed
- HB 1277 – Document Recording Fee increased from $78 to $100, established as a permanent funding source
- HB 1220 – Growth Management Act changes requiring cities and counties to include needed shelters and affordable housing in their local land use planning
- SB 5160 – Right to Counsel established for indigent tenants facing eviction
We closed the meeting with a discussion on organizing, working in coalitions and the role of the faith community in influencing systemic change.
Caroline Lopez, Director of Organizing at the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, and Michael Ramos, Executive Director at the Church Council of Greater Seattle, discussed how the EIG and CCGS built power, worked together through the WLIHA coalition, and brought faith voices to the state legislature. They highlighted the values that the faith community brings to politics – we act from respect for all, bringing love, passion, and integrity.