Housing Instability: Shifting from Crises to Solutions (March 2021)

Housing instability issues continue to impact people in our region, with the COVID-19 pandemic and related economic downturn. This Civic Boot Camp series addresses questions on affordable housing, homelessness, and legislative priorities and highlights success stories with local experts, elected officials, and community leaders.


The Housing Crisis

March 19, 2021

Stephen, Rachael, Patience and Tyrone discuss the extent of the housing crisis in our region, what their organizations are doing to address it and actions we can take to support their efforts to create affordable housing and healthy communities.

The Homelessness Crisis

March 26, 2021

Theresa, Maureen, Christopher and Dawn discuss the extent of the homelessness crisis in Seattle’s neighborhoods, including the trends they seen during the pandemic and the specific needs of people experiencing homelessness in their area (and throughout the city). They also describe success stories and how everyone can get involved to address this complex issue.

Elected Officials on The Housing and Homelessness Crisis

April 2, 2021

Casey, Girmay, and My-Linh discuss how they are working at the City, County and State level to address affordable housing, renter and tenant issues (eviction and rental assistance), shelter, and services to people experiencing homelessness and the lessons we’ve learned from the pandemic that help to inform more effective and equitable policies.


The Interfaith Task Force on Homelessness

Rev. Bill Kirlin-Hackett, Director, The Interfaith Task Force on Homelessness, talks about faith-based responses to the homelessness crisis and describes The Interfaith Task Force on Homelessness’ outreach efforts to assist people living in vehicles.

We Are In and Building Changes

Daniel Zavala, Interim Director, We Are In and Building Changes, discusses how “We Are In”, a new collaboration of non-profits, business, homeless service providers and those with lived experience will address the homelessness crisis in our region.

Low Income Housing Institute

Josh Castle, Director of Advocacy and Community Engagement, Low Income Housing Institute, discusses his organization’s efforts to address the homelessness crisis, especially through their administration of the Tiny House Villages program. He describes how the program works, from its management and funding to effectiveness in helping people transition into more permanent housing.

Housing Justice Project

Tram Tran-Larson and Edmund Witter, Housing Justice Project, discuss how the Housing Justice Project provides rental assistance and eviction protection for vulnerable populations in our region and the how the pandemic (and resulting economic downtown) have exacerbated pre-existing trends in evictions (especially for communities of color).

Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle. (Audio Only)

Qiana Tyeskey, Housing Director, Helen Gaines, Homeless Outreach Manager, and Linda Taylor, VP of Housing & Financial Empowerment, Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle discuss their work to provide rental and foreclosure assistance and wrap-around services to people experiencing homelessness (highlighting their Safe Parking program for people living in their cars) and their suggestions for how to get involved.


MARCH 19, 2021: The Housing Crisis

Patience Malaba

Patience Malaba, Director of Government Relations & Policy, Housing Development Consortium of Seattle-King County, puts her values into action, leading the process of setting HDC’s annual advocacy agenda and strategy to advance the annual priorities that help meet King County’s housing affordability needs, support sustainable and equitable neighborhoods of opportunity for those with the greatest needs. Prior to joining HDC, Patience managed Seattle for Everyone, a broad coalition of affordable housing developers and advocates, for-profit developers and businesses, labor organizations, environmentalists, and urbanists to advance the first-ever comprehensive package of affordable housing policies in Seattle, known as the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA). Early in her role she worked with Futurewise, a statewide growth management, and civic planning organization, on promoting equitable, environmentally sound housing and land-use policies. She serves on the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC)’s Growth Management Policy Board as an alternate. She also currently serves on the Seattle Planning Commission and is the 2020 winner of the Bullitt Environmental Fellowship Award. Patience holds a Master of Public Administration from Seattle University. Connect with her on twitter @patience_malaba or @HDC_SeaKC.

Stephen Norman

Stephen Norman serves as Executive Director of the King County Housing Authority, which provides housing support to low income households living in Seattle’s suburban metropolitan area. The Authority helps house 21,000 households in permanent affordable housing and works closely with community partners to address the needs of the region’s homeless and at-risk populations; promote family self-sufficiency, and support educational and life success for the 20,000 children in its programs.   

Mr. Norman has an extensive background in community organizing, urban planning and affordable housing design, development and management. He served as the first Assistant Housing Commissioner for homeless housing development in New York City and subsequently helped create the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH), a national non-profit lending institution that works to increase the supply of service enriched housing for homeless households. He currently serves as President of the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities (CLPHA) and Chair of the Board of CSH.  

Rachael Myers

Rachael Myers, has served (since 2008) as Executive Director, Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, a statewide advocacy organization working to ensure that everyone in Washington has the opportunity to live in a safe, healthy, affordable home. Prior to that her professional work included serving as Organizing and Advocacy Director at Real Change (Seattle’s street newspaper), working with homeless youth in Seattle’s University District, and lobbying the state legislature for health care, housing, and human services. Connect with Rachael over email at rachealm(at)wliha.org, on twitter @wliha, or on Facebook @wliha.

Tyrone Brown

Tyrone Brown, Statewide Organizer, Tenants Union, has been directly affected by housing injustice since as long as he can remember. Growing up in Portland, Or. Remembering being one of the last black families in the neighborhood. Where they were trading homes for pay checks and kicking the community out or to the the outskirts of the city. Tyrone began fighting gentrification and housing injustice around the age of 14. Fast forward as an adult, after living in Olympia for 5 years and receiving a no cause eviction with their 3 kids. Tyrone then realized housing injustice wasn’t just a inner city problem but an all around systemic issue. Once again joined the housing fight. Tyrone worked at WaCan for 1 yr as the Olympia organizer and was able to help the community to pass Covid-19 related tenant policy. In June 2020 Tyrone help founded BLAST: Black Leaders in Action and Solidarity, in Thurston County whose mission is to elevate voices for justice, transparency, and respect for marginalized people; to dismantle systematic and institutionalized racism and our justice and law enforcement, correctional institution’s and local governments, public safety, education institutions, housing, and health and human services. Tyrone is Tenants Union of Washington State‘s newest employee and will be serving as the Statewide Tenant Organizer. Connect with Tyrone on Facebook @BLASThurston or @TenantsUnion.


MARCH 26, 2021: The Homelessness Crisis

Theresa Barker

Theresa Barker, Community Organizer, Ravenna-Cowen Community Alliance, is a community organizer in the area surrounding Ravenna-Cowen Parks. The Ravenna-Cowen Community Alliance has been working for the past several years to advocate for protection of parks environments and green spaces, and to assist those in need who are living outdoors. Theresa and her organization strive to learn about the causes of homelessness and to work with city representatives and other stakeholders to be a part of the solution to this troubling and complex problem facing our city. Her Op-Ed, “Seattle parks and greenbelts are too wonderful to be trashed,” appeared in the Seattle Times in October, 2018. Theresa has a Ph.D. in Engineering, and her family has lived in Seattle since the time of the Seattle World’s Fair. Connect with Theresa over email at theresabarker(at)comcast.net.

Maureen Ewing

Maureen Ewing, Executive Director, University Heights Center, has served (since 2014) as the Executive Director of the University Heights Center, a nationally recognized historic landmark and community center in Seattle’s U District.  The UHeights mission is to promote lifelong learning, creativity, culture, community activism and the preservation of our historic building. More recently, UHeights has launched programs to serve our neighbors who are unhoused through collaborative ventures that address the growing need.  You can find more information at uheightscenter.org. 

She has served the nonprofit sector as a leader and manager for over 15 years starting in Colorado leading organizations that support older adults; fiscal sponsorship expanding the capacity of the nonprofit sector; and other human services.   She’s served on various boards, including as founding board chair of a Veteran’s Aid Group in Boulder, CO and currently chairs the U District’s Business Improvement Area board and serves on the U District Rotary Board.  Maureen holds her Master’s in Nonprofit Management. Connect with Maureen over email at maureen(at)uheightscenter.org.

Dawn Whitson

Dawn Whitson, Outreach Case-Manager, REACH and Evergreen Treatment Services is blessed to be able to use her lived experience with homelessness and addiction to better serve Seattle’s unsheltered population by working as an Outreach Care Coordinator for REACH. The work that they do seeks to support folks living outside in encampments and RVs by assisting folks with much needed survival resources, a lifeline to program navigation and a relationship that lets folks know that they are not alone or forgotten. Connect with Dawn over email at dawnw(at)etsreach.org or on Facebook

Chris Park

Chris Park, Metropolitan Improvement District Outreach Manager, Downtown Seattle Association, leads the DSA/MID Outreach Team. This group meets individuals experiencing homelessness where they are providing case management and connection to services, housing, treatment and employment options. Chris is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor Associate in the state of Washington and has been working with individuals experiencing homelessness suffering from co-occurring disorders in Seattle for the past 9 years. Connect with Chris over email at christopherp(at)downtownseattle.org. 


April 2, 2021: Elected Officials on the Housing and Homelessness Crisis

Casey Sixkiller

Casey Sixkiller, Deputy Mayor, City of Seattle, is Mayor Durkan’s Deputy Mayor for Operations.  Mr. Sixkiller assumed his position as Deputy Mayor in January 2020, he’s the Mayor’s lead on utilities, parks, libraries and the homelessness response. 

Before joining the City of Seattle, Mr. Sixkiller served as King County Executive Constantine’s Chief Operating Officer.  Mr. Sixkiller is also the founder of Sixkiller Consulting a DC-based firm, which he left in 2018.  Mr. Sixkiller was raised in Seattle and is an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation.

Girmay Zahilay

Girmay Zahilay, Councilmember, King County Council, represents District 2, which includes Skyway, South Seattle, the Central District, Capitol Hill and the University District. Girmay was raised in South Seattle, growing up in places like Rainier Vista, Holly Park, and Skyway. After graduating from Franklin High School, he received degrees from Stanford University and UPenn Law School, and worked in the Obama White House. His experiences growing up in public housing and going to public schools inspired him to pursue anti-poverty work through the Congressional Hunger Center and also to found Rising Leaders, Inc., a nonprofit that equips underserved middle school students with mentors and life skills training. Since taking office 12 months ago, Girmay has laid the foundation to revolutionize our system of policing in King County, invested tens of millions of dollars into Skyway to ensure this neighborhood is the model for investing without displacing, transferred publicly owned land to community organizations for housing, and responded with urgency to the pandemic to make sure our district and our region are safe. Connect with Girmay on instagram @councilmember.girmay, Facebook @councilmember.girmay, or twitter @girmay.

My-Linh Thai

My-Linh Thai, Washington State Representative, 41st Legislative District, immigrated to Washington state at the age of 15 as a Vietnamese refugee with her family. She graduated with honors from Federal Way High School and from the University of Washington School of Pharmacy. She is proud to be the first refugee elected to serve in the Washington State House of Representatives. Rep. Thai is a passionate education advocate who is committed to ensuring equity and access for all. This commitment springs both from the early support she herself received as a student, and as the parent of two children who currently attend Bellevue schools. Prior to serving in her current role, she has served as a PTSA parent volunteer and received the Washington State PTA Outstanding Advocate Award in 2013. She was elected as the School Board Director for the Bellevue School District, and later elected by her fellow Board Directors to serve as Vice President of the Washington State School Board Directors Association (WSSDA) in 2017. Rep. Thai is the Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus. She also serves on the Civil Rights & Judiciary Committee, Health Care & Wellness Committee, the Education Committee, and the Education Accountability Oversight Committee. Connect with My-Linh over Facebook @RepThai41.

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