Housing is a human need, and therefore a human right. The steps it will take to ensure some level of affordable housing for everyone may seem daunting, but that can’t stop us from taking those steps. We must look at all opportunities and reconsider our expectations for how a city looks, functions and is organized, to find ways to support getting people into homes they can afford to stay in. With the end of the eviction moratorium on the horizon, this will become an immediate and critical situation. Burien cannot and should not try to stand alone in addressing the housing crisis. Partnerships with other cities in our region, not-for-profits, and state and county agencies will be absolutely necessary to avoid a situation in which homelessness is not simply hidden by moving people around instead of finding housing solutions.
Safety is about much more than law enforcement. It’s about resources being available to address causes of crime. Solutions like addressing poverty as a cause of some types of crime, working on the big picture to intervene before gang related crime begins, and law enforcement being part of a team that trusts and activates mental health care workers early and continuously.
We all live upstream and we all live downstream from each other’s environmental impacts. We need to look at the storm water that we send into the sound, at the canopy of trees in our parks and neighborhoods and in the options we have for outdoor recreation within walking distance of where people live.
One of my proudest accomplishments with ACLU People Power was in generating a list of action steps that we as a city can implement in order to make our City Council more accessible to more people. From closed caption, to simultaneous interpretation, from childcare and snacks to physical accommodations, there are many ways to make meetings more accessible.
My experience in the Parks Commission and as a parent have shown me opportunities that Burien can take to strengthen its community engagement. Our volunteer commissions can be more involved in outreach, especially when complex or controversial decisions have to be made at a city level. We can and would greatly benefit by creating a system for sharing information with the public and bringing in the feedback that each commission member draws from their own personal network. I often wished for a more direct city council presence in Burien’s various commissions, and would advocate for this on council. And if Burien is to support our youth, we must strengthen ties between the city and the Highline school district, and between the city and the many not-for-profits that serve our youth.