We have been hard at work with our partners and friends in seeking sustainable solutions to the interconnected crises around affordable-housing and homelessness in King and South Snohomish Counties. Below we highlight concrete progress made in Bellevue and Burien toward our goal of affordable, accessible shelter and housing for all God’s children.
In an historic vote on July 17, 2018, Bellevue’s City Council passed an ordinance that for the first time allows for the siting of permanent shelters on public and private land in Bellevue. This was made possible through the tireless witness and advocacy of 20 Eastside congregations, united through the work of the Church Council Eastside Interfaith Gathering organizer, and the solidarity of allies throughout all our communities. This work was recently recognized by the Faith Action Network who gave their Advocating Faith Communities Award to First Congregational Church, Bellevue, and St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church, Bellevue, “for creating Ripples of Change for their homeless neighbors.”
In early October, when tenancy termination notices landed on the doors of a 36-unit low income apartment building in Burien, leaders in the Highline Ecumenical Leadership Circle reacted quickly and powerfully. ‘Our phones blew up with messages,” Joey, our lead organizer, told us. In one week, local faith communities raised $12,000 for relocation assistance, and challenged the city to match it. At a City Council meeting packed with faith leaders, teachers, tenants of Fox Cove, and community supporters, the Burien Council responded to this call by committing $35,000 to provide technical relocation assistance to the displaced families. In addition to this immediate response, local faith leaders asked the City Council to engage the structures of this crisis by convening a new Renter’s Rights Action Plan in early 2019 to develop a range of new municipal policies to protect renters from sub-standard housing, unjust eviction and unfair rental practices. Our local faith leaders, in community with neighbors and allies, are preparing now for that process to ensure that Burien families can live with dignity, health and security.
We are so grateful for these opportunities to celebrate through action out of faith and love for our communities. We recognize, also, that the hardships of the affordable housing and homelessness crises in our area are still very much an everyday reality for so many people in our communities, and we remain committed to working together faithfully in pursuit of sustainable solutions to the systemic causes of this injustice.