Today, I was joined by leaders from the business community, from labor, and advocates from housing, homelessness, and immigrant rights to launch JumpStart Seattle, a proposal crafted in collaboration with hundreds of Seattleites and diverse organizations to jump start our economy, stimulate equitable growth, and provide immediate COVID relief to our communities.
The crisis of COVID-19 has laid bare the stark economic inequality and housing instability that communities across Seattle were already facing prior to this pandemic. Low-income workers, hourly workers, gig and contract workers, communities of color, the LGBTQ community, our immigrant and refugee families, disabled workers and undocumented workers that have been disproportionately left behind in wage growth, sick leave protections, and other critical labor policies are experiencing an even greater toll from this economic crisis. We’re headed for a long and painful recovery, and we have to rebuild our economy from the bottom-up, not the top-down.
Over the past few months, my team and I have had conversations with hundreds of Seattleites and diverse organizations—community of color led organizations, large businesses to small businesses, labor unions, immigrant rights organizations, housing advocates, homelessness advocates, transportation and environmental justice advocates—and we heard the same points over and over:
Our community is hurting: Sudden job and income loss has left many families unable to pay for basics like food and rent; small businesses are struggling to stay afloat in the face of tremendous uncertainty; our neighbors experiencing homelessness are at increased risk of infection and death without adequate housing to shelter in place; and many of our Black-owned businesses and undocumented neighbors have been denied or intentionally excluded from support that’s available because of a history of discrimination and current overt racism at the federal level.
Our economy is tanking: The economic downtown caused by COVID is forecasted to be the worst global recession since the Great Depression. The City Budget Office predicts significant job loss, extremely high rates of unemployment, and declining per capita income in our region. Unemployment in Washington tripled between March and April, and over 1 million workers in the state have filed unemployment claims since the pandemic began. The City’s budget is expected to take at least a $500 million dollar hit in 2020 and 2021.
We cannot wait for the state or feds: We need all levels of government to step up to address this crisis, but Seattle can’t sit back and wait for uncertain funding to come in from the state and federal governments while our community suffers. The state is facing its own budget crisis with a predicted $7 billion shortfall over the next three years, and federal stimulus is uncertain and subject to political battles that don’t reflect our city’s values--leaving many in our community, such as undocumented folks, excluded from the relief they need.
We have to act now to help Seattle: In this moment, Seattleites are asking how they can step up, take action, and be part of the solution. No matter their political leanings, every single Seattleite I've talked to agrees on a few things:
- We need immediate relief for those who are struggling due to COVID;
- We need to help people get housed and off the street;
- We need more affordable housing throughout our city; and
- We need a significant investment now to make meaningful change.
And Seattle can lead the way. Watch today’s launch to hear from leaders from:
- Housing Development Consortium
- Seattle U Homeless Rights Advocacy Project
- Ethan Stowell Restaurants
- Ironworkers Local 86
- United Food and Commercial Workers Local 21 and
- SEIU 775
about the needs of our community and why they support the JumpStart Seattle plan: