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COVID Relief Can’t Wait

Last Friday around midnight, on the eve of August rent being due and federal cash assistance ending, the Mayor vetoed JumpStart COVID relief for small businesses and families in Seattle. The relief bill was part of the JumpStart progressive revenue legislation that I sponsored, passed unanimously by the City Council on July 20th, and provided $86 million for food assistance, small business and childcare support, emergency rental assistance, relief for our immigrant and refugee neighbors - many of whom have been denied COVID relief because of their immigrant status, and other critical support for those who are being impacted by the COVID-19 public health and economic crisis. The funding comes from the emergency reserves, designed to be spent during an emergency (like overlapping affordable housing and homelessness crises, a pandemic, civil uprising, and the end of federal and state relief programs). JumpStart Seattle pays back the reserves beginning on January 1, 2021, five months from now, to prioritize additional emergency support our community needs. 
 
In the midst of an economic contraction that is four times worse than the Great Depression, we can’t afford to take a wait and see approach when Seattle families’ health, jobs, and housing are on the line. If we wait, what we’ll see is more folks unable to pay rent, more families without food, more businesses closing and people losing their jobs—along with their healthcare during a global pandemic. This creates a dangerous, irresponsible, and avoidable cliff for those struggling to get by in our community during this crisis, and a more costly and longer road to economic recovery . It will be harder and more costly for people to keep their businesses, housing and childcare without this COVID relief now.
 
The City Council passed the JumpStart Progressive Revenue tax, COVID relief bill and spending plan resolution after eight weeks of public deliberations, hundreds of hours of stakeholder engagement, and hours of public comment.
 
Past recessions have proven that when governments invest in small business, housing and food assistance, and support our most vulnerable—instead of imposing cuts and austerity—local economies can weather crises in a more equitable way, and local economies rebound faster. Austerity has never been the way to achieve economic recovery and resilience. Council will be acting swiftly to vote on JumpStart again and take the next step to provide the support Seattle families so desperately need.

Protecting Journalists, Legal Observers, and Medics During Protests

Yesterday, I introduced a resolution affirming the rights of journalists, legal observers, and medics to cover protests safely. Freedom of the press is a hallmark of a healthy democracy, and members of the press should never be seen as an extension of the police or the government; nor should journalists, legal observers, or medics ever be intimidated or targeted as they cover protests.
 
During Black Lives Matter protests in Seattle, journalists have been subject to tactics that serve to intimidate and discourage reporters from performing their job responsibilities to observe these events and report them to the public, and reports from this past month include legal observers who have been targeted by police, and medics trying to aid protests being pepper sprayed in the face. Further, local media outlets have said the ruling for local media to turn over photos and video taken of protesters to SPD threatens journalists’ role as neutral observers, and erodes trust between the public and local media.
 
This resolution affirms the free press’ right to cover protests in the community, and the rights of legal observers and medics to safely carry out their duties to ensure the legal rights, health and safety of protestors, and condemns any intentional targeting of press, legal observers, or medical personnel, who are otherwise engaging in lawful conduct and have the right to document police conduct during protests. These ideals are foundational to our democracy, and it is deeply unfortunate that in Seattle today we must affirm basic human rights. 
 
Ready my full statement here.

Updates on Eviction Moratorium and Rental Assistance

Renters make up over 50% of residents in the city, and due to the COVID-19 economic downtown, we know that many Seattle residents have not or will not be able to make their rent payments on time. To ease some of the pressure, there are new protections in place in Seattle and across the state. Here are some updates:
  • The City issued an order on March 14, 2020 placing a moratorium on residential evictions unless there is a serious threat to health and safety, significant property damage, or the owner needs to occupy or intends to sell the unit. This City’s moratorium on evictions has been extended through December 31st, 2020. Landlords are not allowed to charge any late fees or increase rent during the moratorium.
  • In addition, last week the Governor announced that the statewide moratorium on evictions has been extended to October 15th
  • Your landlord must accept a payment plan for overdue rent.
  • Late fees/interest are not allowed for 12 months after the Seattle civil emergency ends.
  • Non-payment of rent due to COVID-19 is a legal defense against evictions for 6 months after the Seattle eviction moratorium ends.
  • For more information on protections in place for renters impacted by the COVID emergency, click here.
If your landlord is attempting to evict you from your home during this crisis, the State Attorney General can help enforce your rights. Visit this page to file a formal complaint. Tenants who receive any eviction notice during the moratorium should also contact the Renting in Seattle hotline at 206‐684‐5700.

For information on financial and rental assistance and other resources, please see the following pages: In addition, the JumpStart COVID Relief Bill, passed unanimously by the City Council on July 20th, allocates $19.5 million in critical rental assistance to enable folks to stay in their homes, stay  healthy, and safely weather the financial impacts of COVID. Unfortunately, this rental assistance faces a roadblock getting out to those who need it with the Mayor’s veto of this legislation. As I discuss above, I will be bringing the COVID Relief Bill back to Council for another vote to override the Mayor’s veto on August 12th. We can’t afford to hold back on providing critical rental assistance and other vital resources like food assistance, small business support, and childcare. The health, well-being, and long-term recovery of our community is on the line. 

SPD Budget Updates

In June, the Budget Committee began our inquest into the Seattle Police Department Budget, and since then have held seven hearings on the issue, hearing from our Central Staff, SPD, progressive electeds from other cities, national researchers, and most importantly, community coalitions from our city. The final votes to revise the 2020 budget are expected next week.

Last week, a detailed plan was discussed to outline a proposal that gets $17 million out the door and into the hands of community organizations to do 2 things:
  1. Initiate a Community-Led Research Process to Generate True Public Safety Informed by Community Needs
  2. Invest in Scaling Up Community-Led Organizations, with Technical Support and Capacity Building, to Increase Public Safety
In order to get funds into the hands of community organizations, we have identified a few sources that we can pull from that do not interrupt public safety and make a first step towards reimagining the police force. We are beginning the process of transforming community safety and providing resources for community organizations.

This is just the first step. The Council will begin working on the 2021 budget in just six weeks when we will consider future actions for right sizing the department and investing in community.
In solidarity,
Teresa Mosqueda
#BlackLivesMatter

Seattle City Council Councilmember, Position 8
teresa.mosqueda@seattle.gov
206-684-8806
Copyright © 2020 Seattle City Council, All rights reserved.


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