Excerpts I wrote for Andrew Grant Houston’s policy proposal:
I am a renter, and I’ve been one my entire life. Though while Seattle is a majority-renter city, I recognize that homeownership is the fastest way to generational wealth. That history is drawn along racial lines.
America, since its inception, has entrenched wealth in the ability to own land. It is no surprise that our nation’s foundation—one that colonized and massacred Indigenous people to take land, using stolen people from another land to build wealth in the false name of “manifest destiny” —still harms us to this day.
Point blank, the median household income of Seattle’s white residents ($96,333) is three times that of Indigenous residents ($31,519). In addition, Seattle’s Black homeownership rate is half that of white homeowners’, and yet Black homeowners are twice as cost-burdened. So what can be done to tip the scales?
We can take the work we are doing, and double it.
The City of Seattle already has a number of homeownership programs through the Office of Housing, so I’d like to see us double those investments. Based on the homeownership programs’ current budget, this means expanding the program to $32.98M in 2023, with a shift in focus toward targeting Black and Indigenous ownership.
This will mean we must overturn I-200, which I intend to pursue and fight for, but that alone won’t be enough. We can’t provide ownership opportunities and stability to those who need it most without comprehensive land-use reform (more on that here). If we want to see a significant improvement for those who want to become homeowners, these two actions must go hand in hand.
Creating a sustainable Seattle that opens the gates to neighborhoods historically retained for the few and provides support for the new is how we allow Seattleites to Stay in Seattle.