Afternoon Jolt

Jolt: Mayor Murray Housing Task Force Missing Key POV

The day's winners and losers.

By Afternoon Jolt September 24, 2014

Loser: Mayor Murray's Affordable Housing Task Force

Mayor Ed Murray announced the members of his 28-member housing affordability advisory committee yesterday and it's dominated by housing developers from the do-gooder affordable housing community (Bill Rumpf from Mercy Housing Northwest, Marty Kooistra from the Housing Development Consortium, Paul Lambros from Plymouth Housing Group, Maiko Winkler-Chin from the Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation non-profit, Kristin Ryan from Jonathan Rose Companies, and Hal Ferris from Spectrum Development, along with social justice low-income advocates such as Merf Ehman from Columbia Legal Services, Jonathan Grant from the Tenants Union, and Estela Ortega from El Centro de la Raza).

It's a sensible list if you're thinking narrowly about the affordable housing crisis. 

There's also a smaller sampling of urbanists, architects,  and for-profit developers such as premier green developer Lisa Picard from urban development firm Skanska, Gabe Grant from HAL Real Estate, David Neiman from Neiman Taber Architects, Jon Scholes from the Downtown Seattle Association, and Alan Durning from the smart environmental group Sightline. 

It's a sensible list ... if you're thinking narrowly about this pivotal issue. 

Two obvious and hyper relevant threads in any discussion on affordable housing are clearly MIA: Transit and land use. Transit advocates like the Transportation Choices Coalition and smart growth advocates like Futurewise should be at the table; Futurewise ED HilaryFranz even made a pitch to be on the committee last week, making her case to Murray policy director Robert Feldstein at the Metro measure campaign kickoff—to no avail. 

Yes, Sightline's Durning will bring a touch of the transit-plus-planning lens to the discussion. But groups like TCC and Futurewise, unlike Sightline, aren't think tanks—they're advocates who do community organizing and lobbying on the ground—and their presence would bring transit and environmentalism into the housing conversation with more knowledge and force. 

Alison Eisinger

The head of the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness, Alison Eisinger, who's become a staunch transit funding advocate during this year's Metro crisis, isn't on the committee either.

As the paragon of the "unified theory" theory I'm always talking about, she stands in as the epitome of what's missing on Murray's affordable housing task force. Eisinger has tirelessly demonstrated the overlap between social justice and transit.

Her absence from the mayor's list makes it clear that this sense of dynamic political overlap was lost on Team Murray.   

Footnote: Another constituency that's missing from Murray's affordable housing advisory committee? The government agency that actually provides affordable housing to low-income people (as opposed to the mid-range housing most nonprofit housing developers build): The Seattle Housing Authority.  (SHA Director Andrew Lofton is on the separate steering committee, which will provide institutional support according to steering group member Sally Clark; they wil meet once a month as opposed to the 28-member working advisory committee and its subgroups which will meet regularly to come up with the policy recommendations.) 

Like the nonprofits, SHA builds some housing for lower-to-middle-income folks—those making between 60 and 100 percent of median income, and above—but it also serves those who earn much less or make no income at all, through public housing subsidies and Section 8 vouchers. Murray has vocally opposed SHA's recent "Stepping Forward" proposal, which would untie subsidized rent levels from income, increasing rents on households SHA deems able to work, regardless of tenants' actual income, every year while providing training that, in theory, will make it easier for tenants to get living-wage jobs  

Today's Second Loser: Tea Party Candidate Clint Didier

Tea Party Republican Clint Didier lost  the NRA's endorsement to mainstream Republican Dan Newhouse in the race for the state’s 4th Congressional District. The Associated Press called the endorsement “somewhat surprising,” and the Yakima Herald-Republic wrote that “Observers expected the NRA…to stay out of the all-Republican race as both candidates have gone above and beyond to state their support of the 2nd Amendment.”

Ultimately, though, outsider Didier should relish the snub. GOP house leader Eric Cantor got the NRA endorsement—just before he was defeated by surprise Tea Party victor Dave Brat earlier this year

Didier, an anti-establishment firebrand Tea Party candidate, was certainly surprised. The Seattle Times’ Jim Brunner reports that Didier, who has tried to use gun zeal as a wedge issue against Newhouse, responded to the news with a conspiracy-theorizing tweet:

 #NRA gives me thr highest rating 4 non-incumbent but endorses my opponent bc “incumbent” even tho he’s NOT in office>Wonder who got to them?

“You could almost see the steam rising from the Twitter feed,” Brunner observed in his article.

Didier bested Newhouse in the twelve-candidate August 5th primary, taking 30.44 percent of the vote to Newhouse’s 26.64 percent in a campaign that included Didier giving away three of his guns to fans.

A farmer and former player for Washington DC’s football team, we asked Didier back in June why he still supports the controversial name.

Ultimately, though, outsider Didier should relish the snub. Outgoing GOP house leader U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor got the NRA endorsement—just before being beaten by surprise Tea Party victor Dave Brat earlier this year


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