With the devastating impacts of COVID-19, it is important to prioritize frontline workers, families, homeless communities, and other groups that have been severely affected.
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Ensure affordable housing
Sarah believes that housing is a human right. The housing options in Pierce County are insufficient for our families and community members. Sarah plans to tackle this issue by building more affordable housing and adding more units to existing housing structures. With the support of federal and state housing programs, Sarah will make it a top priority to create new affordable housing options that our community members need. Additionally, Sarah will work to restructure zoning codes to allow homeowners the option of adding extra dwelling units or increasing the number of people able to be housed in their home. Current county and city zoning codes prevent these practical solutions from being implemented, leaving many of our community members struggling. Sarah is committed to finding creative and sensible solutions to ensure affordable housing for all Pierce County families.
Sarah supports additional tenant protections to keep people in their homes and incentives for developers to build affordable housing, especially for those most in need.
The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically amplified the need for affordable housing in our communities. As many families in Pierce County are navigating the difficulties of job loss or housing insecurity as a result of the pandemic, it is imperative now more than ever that we ensure that there is adequate affordable housing in our county.
Combat the homelessness crisis
With a lack of affordable housing in Pierce County, it comes as no surprise that we as a community are facing a homelessness crisis. In a part of the country that is so innovative and dedicated to serving our community, it is unacceptable that so many of our community members are experiencing homelessness. In addition to the crucial work to ensure affordable housing (as mentioned above), Sarah is dedicated to investing in other creative housing solutions for these community members including transitional housing, co-housing where people have shared living areas and private areas, and rezoning single-family zoned areas to create more housing for all members of our community. These solutions are affordable, pragmatic, and essential for ensuring the safety and health of our communities.
Sarah is also committed to investing additional resources into behavioral and mental health care in Pierce County. Sarah will accomplish this by passing the 0.1% sales tax for behavioral health services, a plan the county has been working on for 8 years. This will generate $14 million annually for mental health services and resources for the homeless population.
Connecting our community members with the resources they need is a crucial step in helping our neighbors who are experiencing homelessness get back on their feet. In the homeless community, there are always underlying reasons people are unable to successfully navigate many societal norms like housing themselves, having a job, and taking care of their essential needs. Helping people address mental health challenges also helps the community at large by making neighborhoods more livable and reducing the unhealthy byproducts of homelessness.
Without meaningful and significant effort to develop affordable housing opportunities, in the next few years we will see more grandparents and disabled veterans become homeless. Families who work for low wages will no longer be able to achieve housing security. How we address the homeless crisis today will determine whether we help our struggling neighbors secure stable housing or allow members of our community to become chronically homeless. With her experience as a land use planner, Sarah is committed to leading the fight against homelessness in Pierce County by working with our partners in the state, county, and non-profit community to tackle the crisis at all angles. No longer will we allow the homelessness crisis to be put on the back burner.
Create more family-wage jobs
In addition to housing security, Sarah believes that ensuring access to family-wage jobs is one of the most pressing issues in Pierce County. With a lack of employers providing family-wage jobs in Pierce County, many of our community members are left unemployed or are forced to travel out of Pierce County to go to work every day. Sarah will work to fix this issue by incentivising many industries that are located outside of Pierce County to open local offices so that people do not need to leave our jurisdiction to find work. Further, wages over the past 40 years have not kept up with the increase in the cost of living. The median income of a family of four in Pierce County is $54,000, which is not sufficient for a family to provide reasonable housing and achieve a middle-class lifestyle. Sarah is against anything that lowers wages and will focus on making livable wages available for our families and community members.
While students are learning from home and parents return to work, many families are left without the necessary childcare. Sarah will support working families by creating more affordable childcare options while parents go back to work.
Institute Office of Race and Equity
Sarah knows that systemic racism and inequity exists in our community and strongly believes that Pierce County needs its own Office of Equity and Race. While the City of Tacoma, the City of Seattle, and King County all have some type of race and equity office, we in Pierce County are left with no resources to provide to our employees and community. We must work to shift mindsets, practices, and systems within the social sector to increase racial equity. It will take serious work to dismantle institutional racism in our society, and Sarah is committed to helping Pierce County engage in this work. Systemic racism affects every aspect of our society, from finding a job to prejudice in the education system to housing discrepancies. With an Office of Equity and Race in Pierce County, we can begin to seriously tackle this pressing issue.
Urgent action to address environmental issues
With the Port of Tacoma in our jurisdiction, Sarah understands the necessity of protecting our natural resources and the environment. The Port of Tacoma involves many different environmental issues such as air pollution, water pollution, heavy metals, and fossil fuel emission. Improving the environmental situation in the Port of Tacoma and other areas of Pierce County does not, however, need to come at the cost of jobs. Sarah believes we as a community must create more jobs in the renewable energy industry in order to decrease our reliance on the fossil fuel industry. We must find a balance between the crucial work of keeping our environment healthy and making sure people have jobs. Climate change poses a serious and costly threat to both lives and infrastructure, so it is imperative that we combat this crisis as much as possible. It is our responsibility to protect the environment so our children and grandchildren can have access to clean water and air.
Support public education
Our children are the future, and Sarah wholeheartedly believes in the importance of investing in our education system. The quality of a child’s public education should not be determined by zip code, race, family income, or disability. We must invest equitably in all public schools across the county because all children should have access to high quality public education. It is equally important to invest in our teachers and support them in helping our children grow and thrive. As we navigate the challenges of education during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is even more crucial to support our educators and families. We must also provide affordable childcare and adequate technology to all families in Pierce County.
Mitigate the impacts of COVID-19
Our communities have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic in many ways. We have lost community members to this horrible virus, our schools have shut down, and our economy has been seriously impacted by lockdowns. As a small business owner herself, Sarah knows firsthand the struggles of keeping a business’ doors open even in the best of times. These times, as we all know, are far from easy for anyone. Sarah believes we must follow the direction of healthcare experts on how to safely reopen schools and the economy while doing everything possible to support small businesses and families just trying to stay afloat. In order to keep our communities safe, we must fight this virus while also protecting our jobs and economy.