Ensure affordable housing
We need to provide more housing. There just isn’t enough housing of all types available in our community. While we do need to build more low-income housing with the support of federal and state housing programs, we need to look at our current stock of housing and figure out how we add more units. Our cities have many homeowners who would like to add an additional dwelling unit or be able to change the use of their current home to allow more people to be housed there. We need to remove the regulatory barriers that will allow these commonsense solutions to come into effect. The way county and some city zoning codes are written right now, many of these choices are not allowed. Working with cities to adjust language in current zoning codes will be helpful to alleviate the housing crisis.
Without meaningful and significant effort to develop affordable housing opportunities now, in the next few years we will see grandparents and disabled veterans reliant on fixed incomes become homeless. Families who work for low wages will no longer be able to achieve housing security. How we address the homeless crisis now will either find us providing these groups with stable housing options now, or just adding them to the current group of the chronically homeless. Finding a way to be humane and care about each other’s fundamental needs when we can’t personally relate to a situation is difficult. Yet, without compassionate and pragmatic solutions now, we invite the day when homelessness can touch anyone’s life. We need to get to work today, and I want to be a part of working with our partners in the state, county, and non-profit community. We have the right people here in Pierce County to solve this problem, but we need leadership that understands this cannot be on the back burner any longer. Sarah Rumbaugh will bring her experience as a land use planner and board member of AM to bare on this problem, and work to improve our neighborhoods and expand the supply of affordable housing in our community.
Combat the homelessness crisis
There is never enough focus on homelessness, affordable housing and transitional housing. This needs to be our number one issue because housing is not a privilege, it is a right. We need more affordable housing of all types. This might involve really looking at changing how we see our single family zoned areas, small houses for transitional housing, and co-housing where people have shared living areas and private areas. This is very affordable but involves changes in our planning community.
We need to invest additional resources into behavioral health here in Pierce County. Helping people get the assistance they need, thereby enabling them to accept the opportunities in front of them, is something we need to offer people experiencing mental health challenges. 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. We as a society can help those in these situations find stability through behavioral and mental health support. Helping people address mental health challenges also helps the community at large by making neighborhoods more livable and reducing the unhealthy byproducts of homelessness.
Create more family-wage jobs
We believe an important issue in our district is family wage paying jobs. There just are not enough employers providing this type of work. Consequently, people are stuck being underemployed or having to travel out of Pierce County to go to work every day. We would look to incentivize many of the industries that are located outside Pierce County to open local offices that employ 15% of their work force so that people do not need to leave our jurisdiction to go to work. Wages over the past 40 years have not kept up with the increase in the cost of living. I am against anything that lowers wages, especially knowing that the median income of a family of four in Pierce County is $54,00, which is not sufficient for a family to provide reasonable housing and achieve a
Institute Office of Race and Equity
I strongly believe we need to have our own Office of Equity and Race within Pierce County. While the City of Tacoma, the City of Seattle, and King County all have some type of race and equity office, we are left with no resources to provide to our employees and community. We need to work to shift mindsets, practices, and systems within the social sector to increase racial equity. Once we concentrate on this, we can change the way people think about racial issues. We are brought up with biases and further formulate these ideas from our experiences. Helping people understand that there are other formats to discuss our differences and come to
understandings is important for our society as a whole to move forward together to tackle these discussions.
Urgent action to address environmental issues
Our jurisdiction includes the Port of Tacoma, which will involve many different types of environmental issues, from air and water pollution, to the impacts of heavy metals and fossil fuels. We need to look to change our uses in our Port so that they reflect our values as a community when it comes to keeping our families safe from environmental hazards. We have to balance with this what types of jobs will be located in the Port of Tacoma and tideflats in the next 20 years. This a crisis of magnitude as we see the Earth’s temperature rising and we need to protect it for our children today and in the future. There is a balance that involves economic needs and the environment. But we can’t afford the cost of repairing the devastation of environmental disasters that loom around the corner. We would support a strong stance on finding jobs that are not fossil fuel related but rather are directed to clean and renewable energy industries.