Seattle Rental Applicants’ Criminal Histories Virtually Off-Limits Under New Law

Close-up picture of someone's hand with apartment keys in itLandlords will be forbidden from screening tenants based on criminal records, under an ordinance the Seattle City Council approved Monday.

The Seattle City Council approved an ordinance Monday that will mostly prohibit landlords from screening tenants based on their criminal records.

Landlords will be barred from excluding people with records in advertisements. When taking applications, they will be barred from asking about records. And in choosing tenants, they will be barred from rejecting people due to their records.

The only people who may be denied rental housing will be those listed on sex-offender registries because of adult convictions, and landlords denying housing to such people will still need to demonstrate a legitimate business reason for doing so.

The intent, according to proponents, is to lower barriers to housing for people with criminal histories, who now are often rejected by landlords. Council members last week voted 6-0 to advance the ordinance from their civil-rights committee to the full council.

They voted 8-0 Monday. Councilmember Kshama Sawant was absent.

“Regardless of my criminal history, I deserve housing,” Ballard resident Zachary Tutwiler, a vendor with the Real Change Homeless Empowerment Project, told the council during a public-comment period before the vote. “We all deserve housing.”

Some landlords say being allowed to make decisions based on the criminal histories of prospective tenants helps them better safeguard their property and existing tenants.

Landlords renting part of their own homes and sharing a kitchen or bathroom with a tenant will be exempt, as will primary leaseholders given the authority by landlords to choose roommates.

People renting mother-in-law apartments or backyard cottages on properties where they live also will be exempt, but micro-housing units will be covered by the ordinance.

Proponents of the ordinance say people who already have served their time shouldn’t be penalized again by landlords. And they say people who have been arrested but not convicted also should be treated the same as everyone else.

The proponents say people leaving jail and prison need housing to build stable lives and are less likely to commit crimes again when they have somewhere to sleep.

On Monday, Councilmember Lisa Herbold, who sponsored the ordinance with Council President Bruce Harrell, described housing discrimination against people with records as “a recipe for recidivism.”

Continue reading in The Seattle Times

Originally written by  in The Seattle Times

Leadership: It’s What You Make of It

maze with street above going straight instead of following maze like a 'follower'Leadership is the ability to not only understand and utilize your innate talents, but to also effectively leverage the natural strengths of your team to accomplish the mission. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, answer key or formula to leadership. Leadership should be the humble, authentic expression of your unique personality in pursuit of bettering whatever environment you are in. – Katie Christy, founder, Activate Your Talent

A parable is told about a pencil-maker who was preparing to put an important pencil in a box. Before doing so, though, he took the pencil aside. “There are five things you need to know,” he said. “If you can remember these five things, you will become the best pencil you can be.”

You will be able to do many great things, but only if you allow yourself to in someone else’s hand.

  1. Sharpening is painful, but it is critical if you want to write sharply.
  2. Since you have an eraser, you can correct most mistakes you make, though some may be harder to erase than others.
  3. Remember, it’s what’s inside that’s most important.
  4. Whatever surface you on, make sure you leave your mark. No matter how hard, rough, or easy, you must continue to write.

This parable shares powerful lessons for every leader:

  1. Be humble. You can achieve greatness, but not when you go it alone. Allow yourself to be taught and coached by others and identify the strengths of those around you to help advance the cause.
  2. Stay sharp. Strong leaders find ways to keep learning and sharpening their skills. Feedback can be painful at times, but without it, you will become dull.
  3. Accept mistakes. We all err. Though mistakes may make for challenging moments, they are ultimately part of a process of becoming a better leader. Embrace your mistakes as opportunities to learn, erase, and become better! As John Maxwell once said, “A good leader is a person who takes a little more than his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit.”
  4. Your best is what’s inside you. You may be good-looking, dress well, and have a great personality. But what makes you who you are and the person with whom others want to connect is your character. Seek to continually grow and refine your character so that you can lead and serve with utmost integrity.
  5. Stick with it. There will be times when you think that you’re making no imprint and that your actions are not having an effect. But people will still depend on you, so you need to keep on going. Hold to your vision and your dreams, even when it seems they have dimmed.

I have attempted to offer guidance to you, the new leader, as you assume your leadership position. By now, one thing should be clear: Leadership is not easy. It takes much effort to position yourself to achieve a leadership post, and perhaps, even more, work to build a sustainable leadership platform.

But it is doable. And the world needs you.

Continue reading in Smart Brief

Originally written by Naphtali Hoff in Smart Brief

This post is adapted from “Becoming the New Boss,” a new leadership book by Naphtali Hoff, PsyD,(@impactfulcoach). He became an executive coach and organizational consultant following a career as an educator and school administrator. Read his blog at

WSU’s Everett Campus Hosting August 15 Ribbon Cutting and Open House

EVERETT, Wash. – WSU North Puget Sound at Everett announced an August 15 ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house for the campus’s new building at 915 N. Broadway in Everett.

“This is a landmark occasion for our entire region. Washington State University is thrilled to be opening the doors of our new, state-of-the-art building to the public on August 15,” Paul Pitre, chancellor of WSU’s newest campus, said. “This building represents decades of work by this community to create local access to four-year degree programs. WSU is incredibly proud to be an important part of that and to continue our growth into the future.”

The ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place at 3:30 p.m. and will include WSU president Kirk Schulz, Pitre, city of Everett mayor Ray Stephanson and Everett Community College president David Beyer.

“The programs offered in this building will help address some of our region’s most pressing economic challenges,” Stephanson said. “We are competitors in the worldwide marketplace and our businesses need a talented, well-trained workforce in order to thrive and expand. This is where that workforce will come from.”

The open house will include opportunities for tours and photos, chances to learn about the nearly 30 programs offered in the new building from WSU and the Everett University Center partners, information from the construction team, and more. Each WSU North Puget Sound at Everett and Everett University Center program/partner will be assigned a space to engage with community members, who will be guided by an event passport. Those interested can learn more on the Facebook event page.

Continue reading in WSU News

Children and Youth Summer Meal Program

The City of Seattle funds a summer meal program, providing no-cost breakfasts, lunches, and snacks for kids and teens ages 1-18 years. The 2017 program runs from June 28th through August 25th.



Here’s how you can find the closest meal site:

  • Use the Summer Meals Search Tool that displays sponsor, site and meal information with online mapping tools
  • Call the USDA Hotline 1-866-348-6479
  • Text Food to 877-877
  • Email
  • Call our office at 206-386-1140

Short Answers to Hard Questions About the Opioid Crisis

Graphic of American flag with needles and spoons as stripesThis week, President Trump’s commission on combating the opioid crisis, led by Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, recommended that the president declare a national emergency.

The problem has become significantly worse recently, so you might feel that you could use a little catching up. Here are 11 things you need to know.

1. How bad is it?

It’s the deadliest drug crisis in American history.

Drug overdoses are the leading cause of death for Americans under 50, and deaths are rising faster than ever, primarily because of opioids.

Overdoses killed more people last year than guns or car accidents, and are doing so at a pace faster than the H.I.V. epidemic at its peak. In 2015, roughly 2 percent of deaths — one in 50 — in the United States were drug-related.

Percentage of deaths classified as drug-related

The chart includes both deaths from drug poisoning and those caused by drug-related mental disorders.Sources: W.H.O.; Statistics Canada; Ireland Central Statistics Office; National Records of Scotland; National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Overdoses are merely the most visible and easily counted symptom of the problem. Over two million Americans are estimated to have a problem with opioids. According to the latest survey data, over 97 million people took prescription painkillers in 2015; of these, 12 million did so without being directed by a doctor.

2. What is an “opioid”?

Something that acts on opioid receptors in the nervous system.

That’s not really a helpful answer.

The first such drug, and the one from which the opioid receptors get their name, was opium. Opium, a narcotic obtained from a kind of poppy, has been used in human societies for thousands of years. From opium people derived a whole host of other drugs with similar properties: first morphine, then heroin, then prescription painkillers like Vicodin, Percocet and OxyContin. Opium along with all of these derivatives are collectively known as opiates.

Then there are a handful of compounds that act just like opiates but aren’t made from the plant. Opiates along with these synthetic drugs — chiefly methadone and fentanyl — are grouped together into the category of substances called opioids.

Opioid receptors regulate pain and the reward system in the human body. That makes opioids powerful painkillers, but also debilitatingly addictive.

3. So is this crisis about prescription painkillers or heroin?


The crisis has its roots in the overprescription of opioid painkillers, but since 2011 overdose deaths from prescription opioids have leveled off. Deaths from heroin and fentanyl, on the other hand, are rising fast. In several states where the drug crisis is particularly severe, including Rhode IslandPennsylvania and Massachusetts, fentanyl is now involved in over half of all overdose fatalities.

Drug overdose deaths involving …

’00’02’04’06’08’10’12’14Common prescriptionopioidsHeroin and fentanylBoth5,0005,00010,00010,00015,00015,00020,00020,00025,000 deaths per year25,000 deaths per year
Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

While heroin and fentanyl are the primary killers now, experts agree that the epidemic will not stop without halting the flow of prescription opioids that got people hooked in the first place.

Continue reading in The New York Times

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Can the world thrive on 100% renewable energy?

earth on fireA WIDELY read cover story on the impact of global warming in this week’s New York magazine starts ominously: “It is, I promise, worse than you think.” It goes on to predict temperatures in New York hotter than present-day Bahrain, unprecedented droughts wherever today’s food is produced, the release of diseases like bubonic plague hitherto trapped under Siberian ice, and permanent economic collapse. In the face of such apocalyptic predictions, can the world take solace from those who argue that it can move, relatively quickly and painlessly, to 100% renewable energy?

At first glance, the answer to that question looks depressingly obvious. Despite falling costs, wind and solar still produce only 5.5% of the world’s electricity. Hydropower is a much more significant source of renewable energy, but its costs are rising, and investment is falling. Looking more broadly at energy demand, including that for domestic heating, transport and industry, the share of wind and solar is a minuscule 1.6% (see chart). It seems impossible to eliminate fossil fuels from the energy mix in the foreseeable future.

But all energy transitions, such as that from coal to hydrocarbons in the 20th century, take many decades. It is the rate of change that guides where investments flow. That makes greens more optimistic. During the past decade, solar photovoltaics (PV) and wind energy have been on a roll as sources of electricity. Although investment dipped slightly last year, the International Energy Agency, a global forecaster, said on July 11th that for the first time the amount of renewable capacity commissioned in 2016 almost matched that for other sources of power generation, such as coal and natural gas. In some countries the two technologies—particularly solar PV in sunny places—are now cheaper than coal and gas. It is no longer uncommon for countries like Denmark and Scotland to have periods when the equivalent of all their power comes from wind.

Continue reading at The Economist 

This Database Tells You Which Bad Chemicals Are Hiding In Your Tap Water

Checkered kitchen sink with waterHow clean is your tap water? Access database via EWG Tap Water Database

In April 2015, Deborah Graham, a resident of the tiny town of Salisbury, North Carolina, received a letter from the North Carolina Division of Public Health, who wanted to let her know that the water coming out of her tap–the same water she used to fill her kids’ water bottles and cook dinner–was chock-full of vanadium, a coal-ash-derived chemical that causes nausea and, later in life, neurological decline. The public health authority also sent notices to 424 other households in the state.

Duke Energy, which supplies electricity for the state, had been depositing the ash created by burning coal into 32 pits throughout the state for decades. Coal ash contains radioactive materials and heavy metals; when it’s deposited into the pits, which are often unlined ponds, contaminants seep into the groundwater, through the local water system pipes, and from there make their way into people’s taps, water glasses, and bodies.

In the film From the Ashes, a Bloomberg Philanthropies-produced documentary that premiered last month, we see Graham hauling 24-packs of bottled water into her home to drink and cook with, while waging an advocacy battle against Duke Energy, demanding that the utility shell out the tens of millions it will take to clean up the water supply.

“It’s the only available database that is this comprehensive and tells Americans what they’re drinking.” [Photo: caristo/iStock]

Graham’s situation is far from unique. The Environmental Working Group’s updated Tap Water Database aggregated data from 2010 to 2015 from 50,000 utilities across all 50 states, and found traces of over 250 contaminants. Over 160 of those contaminants are unregulated, which means that despite their known adverse health effects, there’s no law limiting their presence in water supplies.The database was first launched in 2004, Nneka Leiba, EWG’s director of healthy living science, tells Fast Company; since then, updates were released in 2009 and now in 2017. “One of the reasons it takes us a while to update the database is also one of the reasons why it’s so important,” she says. “It’s the only available database that is this comprehensive and tells Americans what they’re drinking.”

Anyone can access the database, enter their zip code, and see a list of utilities that serve their area, as well as the contaminants found in their water. While the Environmental Protection Agency sets legal limits, measured in parts per billion (ppb) on a handful of chemicals, like chloroform and trichloroacetic acid (both known carcinogens); under those regulations, water utilities must comply with a certain level of contamination or face a fine. But legal limits, Leiba says, are not necessarily health-protective limits. “They’re a compromise between health, cost, and feasibility,” she says. What the EWG has done with this update of the Tap Water Database is to develop and establish what they’re calling “EWG standards,” which reflect truly health-protective limits. “So for nitrates, we’re not looking at 10 ppb, which is the legal limit; we’re looking at how many people are affected by levels over 5 ppb, which could be cancerous,” Leiba says.

Continue reading in Fast Company

Originally written by Eillie Anzilotti in Fast Company

Innovative affordable housing design for homeless youth, workers

An affordable housing property is getting some national attention for its innovative design.

The Marion West is a mixed-use affordable housing property in the University District that won two Gold Nugget Grand Awards at the 2017 Pacific Coast Builders Conference, including “Residential Housing Project of the Year”.

The Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) and Runberg Architecture Group collected the awards in San Diego.

The Marion West’s 2nd floor is dedicated to 20 units of permanent supportive housing for formerly homeless youths. This means they are given some wraparound services like an on-site case worker. Residents pay whatever 30% of their income is. The nonprofit YouthCare runs the floor.

The 3rd and 4th floors are 29 units of workforce housing. Units cost residents $640 per month, according to Sharon Lee of LIHI.

The 7,400 square foot rooftop has an urban garden residents can use. The rooftop also has downtown Seattle skyline views.

Downstairs houses the University District Food Bank. Some of the rooftop garden provides fresh produce for the food bank. Also downstairs, Street Bean Coffee is an apprentice program for formerly homeless youth.

Continue reading in King 5

Originally written by Ryan Takeo in King 5

Diversity award, new article on Latino business for García-Pabón

WSU Metro Center’s José García-Pabón, associate professor in Extension Community and Economic Development and Latino Community Studies and Outreach specialist, has earned National Association of Community Development Extension Professionals (NACDEP) honors in diversity for 2017. He placed second nationally and won top honors in the Western region. The awards were presented at the NACDEP-CDS Joint Conference, June 11-14 in Big Sky, Mont.

Through his Extension program, García-Pabón delivers educational resources to Latino families to help them engage with their communities and improve their families’ well-being in areas including entrepreneurship, youth leadership, sustainable farming, empowerment of women, and training.

García-Pabón also recently published “Latino small businesses in northwest Washington: Perceptions, challenges, and needs” in the latest issue of the Journal of Community Development. He surveyed Latino small business owners to learn about the factors that influence their success or failure. Most want business advising and training, and find satisfaction in owning their own businesses.

Read the article here.

Originally published in WSU CAHNRS News

Invest in Resilience Before Disaster Strikes

Low-Income Communities Are Especially Vulnerable 

Across the nation heatwaves, droughts and floods have become more frequent and more severe, increasing risks to people, homes, and infrastructure. Between 2011 and 2013, the U.S. experienced 32 weather events that each caused at least one billion dollars in damages.

Low-income communities are on the front lines of this damage, and they continue to be the most vulnerable. From the Chicago heatwave of 1995 that led to 739 deaths to Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy, these areas are often the first victims of extreme weather and the last to recover from devastation.

Investing in at-risk communities before disaster strikes is one of the most cost-effective ways to protect residents and property while increasing their ability to weather the severe storms ahead. At Enterprise Community Partners, our Resilient Communities Initiative works nationwide to strengthen communities and equip residents so they are better prepared for, and able to respond to extreme weather events and other emergencies. We provide technical assistance, grant funding, research and analysis, and build innovative tools to support this goal.

Defining Resilience; Public Costs of Inaction

Resilience is the capacity for households, communities, and regions to adapt to changing conditions and to maintain and regain functionality in the face of stress or disturbance. Enterprise works directly with communities, bringing together know-how, partners, policy leadership, and investment to increase resiliency nationwide.

Many low-income communities experience the same challenges around climate vulnerability. They were built on vulnerable land because it was the cheapest option, and now they face the uncertainty of a volatile climate, escalating home prices and a shifting economic environment. One storm, one tornado or one earthquake could mean massive displacement, economic disruption and complete dislodgement from their homes and communities.

These vulnerable communities are scattered across the country. They are the new single family homes sitting astride fault lines or on the path of mudslides along rocky hillsides; they are trailer park communities built on swampland; and they are costal island fishing communities struggling to stay afloat.

There are so many stories about resilient communities: families that braved tornadoes and managed to reunite, or neighbors that dragged water 15 stories to an elderly couple in a high rise public housing project. But disasters are complicated and challenging to recover from. There are only so many places to go and only so many nights you can sleep at a friend’s house or borrow a car, waiting for a reimbursement check that may not come for months. Short-term displacement can lead to long-term homelessness, temporary business closures can lead to a neighborhood-level economic downturn, and disruption of community services can lead to an extended loss of service continuity.

Each of these consequences increases public costs and compounds the health and economic challenges from which low-income communities disproportionately suffer.

Continue reading in Meeting of the Minds

Originally written by Laurie Schoeman in Meeting of the Minds