News

Close-up picture of someone's hand with apartment keys in itSeattle Rental Applicants’ Criminal Histories Virtually Off-Limits Under New Law

8/14/17 Landlords 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. Continue reading

maze with street above going straight instead of following maze like a 'follower'Leadership: It’s What You Make of It

7/12/17 The road to becoming a strong leader involves being humble, continuing to learn and accepting mistakes as opportunities to grow, writes Naphtali Hoff. “Hold to your vision and your dreams, even when it seems they have dimmed,” he writes. Learn more about the qualities of a strong leader.

WSU north puget soung everett logoWSU’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. Learn more about the event!

Children and Youth Summer Meal Program

8/7/17 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. Find out where your closest meal site is.

Graphic of American flag with needles and spoons as stripesShort Answers to Hard Questions About the Opioid Crisis

8/3/17 This 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 about the opioid crisis.

earth with flamesCan The World Thrive on 100% Renewable Energy

7/13/17 A 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? Continue Reading

Checkered kitchen sink with waterThis Database Tells You Which Bad Chemicals Are Hiding In Your Tap Water

7/26/17 Access this database, enter your zip code, view the list of utilities that serve your area and discover the contaminants found in your water. Read more

Innovative affordable housing design for homeless youth, workers

(7/20/17) – An affordable housing property is getting some national attention for its innovative design. The Marion West’s 2nd floor is dedicated to 20 units of permanent supportive housing for formerly homeless youths.The 3rd and 4th floors are 29 units of workforce housing. Units cost residents $640 per month, according to Sharon Lee of LIHI. whatever 30% of their income is. The nonprofit YouthCare runs the floor. 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

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

July 2017 – 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. Continue reading

Invest in Resilience Before Disaster Strikes 

7/18/17 – 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.metrocenter.cw.wsu.edu/invest-in-resilience-before-disaster-strikes

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. Continue reading

The Uninhabitable Earth

7/11/17 – It is, I promise, worse than you think. If your anxiety about global warming is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible, even within the lifetime of a teenager today. And yet the swelling seas — and the cities they will drown — have so dominated the picture of global warming, and so overwhelmed our capacity for climate panic, that they have occluded our perception of other threats, many much closer at hand. Rising oceans are bad, in fact very bad; but fleeing the coastline will not be enough. Continue Reading

Mapping Average Commutes from Anywhere in the Seattle Area

7/7/17 – How long is your commute compared to your neighboring cities? Learn more about the interactive map and your city’s commute times.

Three Keys to Inclusive Growth

7/2/17 – Recently, a jury in Minnesota acquitted the police officer who shot and killed Philando Castile during a traffic stop last summer, sparking renewed anger over a criminal justice system that perpetuates historic racial bias in cities. On the same day, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced his company had bought Whole Foods for $13.4 billion, potentially upending the future of retail.

These were not unrelated events. They represent the twin urgencies that local and regional leaders must confront if they want to create broad-based prosperity: Make right the wrongs of the past, while radically preparing for the future. Continue Reading

Revised Community Revitalization Plan – Arlington and Darrington

6/28/17 – A follow-up report that describes the communities progress over the past 11 months of implementation and future goals centered around infrastructure, industries and employment, community and workforce development, resilience and sustainability, placemaking and rural innovation. Continue Reading

 

Tacoma’s Doing Something Different on Homelessness

6/7/17 – Like Seattle, Tacoma has a homelessness problem so severe that city leaders have declared a state of emergency. But the city is taking a different approach than its neighbor to the north.

Tacoma is framing its emergency declaration as one of “public health.” It’s a bit more limited than the attempts in Seattle and King County, as well as others in Portland, Los Angeles, Honolulu and the state of Hawaii, where the emergencies are more generally about homelessness itself. Continue Reading

Seattle is Denser Than 90% of Large U.S. Cities

6/8/17 – There’s been a good deal of recent attention to Seattle’s continued growth spurt. The Upshot column in the New York Times points out that we’re also one of the few cities that is growing denser as we add population. In fact, Seattle is already cited as the 8th most dense of the 50 most populous U.S. cities. I’ll expand on that last fact in this post – hopefully giving some context for what our current state of density means relative to the other large cities of the U.S. Continue Reading

 

Oregon Equal Pay legislation heads to Gov. Brown

5/22/17 – Legislation that will ensure women are paid the same rate as men for the same work is headed to Oregon Gov. Kate Brown for her signature. House Bill 2005, which was amended by the Senate last week, unanimously re-passed the House Monday. Continue reading article on equal pay.

SR 530 Mudslide: Long Term Recovery Report

May 2017 – On March 22, 2014, a catastrophic landslide affected several communities in northwest Washington when an unstable hillside gave way. A wall of mud buried an entire neighborhood, taking 43 lives and closing State Highway 530, the physical and economic lifeline for the region. In response to the disaster, Washington State University (WSU) assembled a multi-disciplinary team to support the long-term recovery of the impacted communities. Visit the following link to read more about WSU’s long-term recovery report.

One Tool for Dismantling Structural School Segregation in Seattle: Better Zoning

5/16/17 – View Ridge Elementary is one of Seattle’s highest-rated public elementary schools. Eighty-five percent of View Ridge students demonstrate or exceed grade-level proficiency on math and English standardized tests, well above the state average of 55 percent. But despite being a public school, it tends to be expensive to attend View Ridge—prohibitively so. There’s a structural reason for this: The city has zoned 93 percent of the school’s attendance area single-family zoning. Unless a family is wealthy enough to afford a house in the neighborhood, where home prices average $850,000, or lucky enough to find an affordable rental (only a quarter of dwellings in the surrounding census tract are renter-occupied, and rents average $3,000 per month), the chances of attending this school rest on the whim of the district lottery via the open enrollment process. This school year (2016-2017) just four out-of-area students won admission to View Ridge, and all of them already had siblings attending the school. Continue reading on segregation and zoning.

The World’s First Floating Light Rail

5/15/17 – Seattle already has the world’s longest floating bridge, and next month, it’s going one step further: building the world’s first floating light rail line. The undertaking is part of a $3.7 billion project to build a light rail corridor linking Seattle to the city of Bellevue on the east side of Lake Washington by 2023. It’s a tricky endeavor; the floating bridge has to withstand the pressure of two pairs of 300-ton trains traveling at speeds of up to 55 mph. To make it happen, the transit agency Sound Transit is turning to cutting-edge earthquake technology. Continue reading on the floating light rail

Urban Extension: Aligning with the Needs of Urban Audiences Through Subject-Matter Centers

Written by: Brad Gaolach, Michael Kern and Christina Sanders

The educational program model is the principle approach Extension uses to deliver on its mission of “taking knowledge to the people.” However, with county-based faculty fully engaged in long-term program delivery, they may have little or no capacity to address emerging issues faced by urban communities. Urban governments often seek the research capacity of a university in addition to, or instead of, the traditional Extension programming model but sometimes turn first to other urban-serving universities. Washington State University Extension has addressed these challenges by establishing subject-matter centers. This article examines how subject-matter centers can add capacity to traditional Extension offices in order to be responsive to emerging local needs, suggesting models that other university Extension programs may use or adapt to their local communities. These models also foster more community engagement and articulate greater public value for the institution as a whole. Continue reading Urban Extension: Aligning with the Needs of Urban Audiences Through Subject-Matter Centers.

When Disaster Strikes, Extension Responds – WSU Extension Asks Communities, “What do you need?”

Written by: Christina Sanders, Martha Aitken and Monica Babine

On March 22, 2014, a catastrophic landslide devastated a rural region in northwest Washington. A hillside gave way, burying an entire neighborhood, taking 43 lives, and temporarily closing State Highway 530, the physical and economic lifeline for the area. Carrying a wall of mud and debris, it destroyed 49 homes and structures; creating a slide zone nearly a mile wide. In the aftermath, what emerged were resilient and interdependent communities with a shared goal of growing their economies while preserving quality of life. The events of that day could have left a region totally devastated but instead they served as a catalyst for economic revitalization efforts, and spurred Washington State University (WSU) to explore how it supports communities in moving forward after a disaster. Continue Reading about WSU’s post-landslide recovery efforts.

High-rises in the Chinatown ID? Fear that development could erase neighborhood’s culture

5/1/17 – The upzone drawn up by Mayor Ed Murray would allow even taller buildings in most of Chinatown International District, including Little Saigon, and trigger a new program requiring developers to help create affordable housing. Continue reading on high-rises in Chinatown ID.

Reduce, Reuse… Repair? Pacific Northwest Fix-It Movement Grows

4/26/17 – Savino’s been mending stuff since he was small enough to fit in the chair. Now, thanks to him and a cadre of repair-happy Western Washington residents, more broken stuff is getting a second chance at life. Savino volunteers at “Repair Time,” a new King County recycling program that aims to encourage residents to think twice before tossing their broken stuff. Continue reading about the PNW fix-it movement.

Mapping America’s Intractable Homelessness Problem

4/7/17 – America has an enduring homelessness problem, with incredible human and economic costs. When they’re acknowledged, homeless people are routinely shunned and criminalized, and often considered less than human. But even folks who want to help often find it hard to wrap their heads around the complex issue. Continue reading about the new data project on mapping homelessness.

Can Tiny Houses In People’s Backyards Help Alleviate The Homelessness Crisis?

4/5/17 – If you own a house in Portland, Oregon, the county government wants to make you a deal: It will build you a free tiny house for your backyard if you agree to let a homeless family live there for five years. After that, you can rent it to whoever you want. “Like many large cities, we have a crisis when it comes to homelessness,” says Marc Jolin, director of A Home for Everyone, an initiative to prevent and end homelessness in the area that is helping fund the tiny homes. Continue reading on free tiny houses.

How Seattle is Dismantling the NIMBY Power Structure

4/3/17 – For decades, activist homeowners have held virtual veto power over nearly every decision on Seattle’s growth and development. In large and small ways, these homeowners, who tend to be white, more affluent and older than the average resident, have shaped neighborhoods in their reflection — building a city that is consistently rated as one of the nation’s most livable, as well as one of its most expensive. Continue reading about the role in neighborhood planning.

Good Schools, Affordable Homes: Finding Suburban Sweet Spots

3/30/17 – For better or worse, it’s common for city-dwelling families that reach a certain size to make the leap to the suburbs for more space and better schools. But even among comparable suburban neighborhoods, seemingly arbitrary school district boundaries can lead to huge differences in price. Continue reading about Finding Suburban Sweet Spots

Work in Seattle? Six months of paid family leave may soon be an option

Attention new parents: By 2020, Seattle could require all businesses in its city limits to offer you six months of paid time off. The proposal would more than double what New York offers, which is 12 weeks, currently the longest paid parental leave policy in the country. Continue reading about paid family leave

It’s not your imagination: bike sharing systems are popping up all over the place

When I was in grad school at the University of Montana back in the late 1990s, they launched a small bike sharing system as an experiment. I forget if it was Missoula-wide or just the university (Google is no help), but there were these funky green bikes with wire baskets, kept, unlocked, in wooden sheds. Anyone could take one — you were just supposed to put it back in one of the sheds. It all ran on the honor system. Continue reading about the increase in bike sharing systems.

Early Exposure to Public Transportation Can Lead to More Sustainable Travel Later in Life

Imagine a thirty-something born and bred New Yorker who packs up and move to Los Angeles. As a stereotypical New Yorker, she used transit or walked most places. Now that she lives in L.A., does her experience of using public transit in New York continue to influence her daily travel? Is she more likely to use transit than her Angeleno peers who have lived their whole lives in auto-dependent neighborhoods? Or does she adapt to the new reality, abandoning her transit habits in the context of a new built environment? In a recent publication in the Journal of Planning Education and Research (JPER), we test whether past experience living in areas with high-quality public transit influences travel behavior later in life. Read more about transportation exposure.

Community Development and Child Development

Community development and child development have a tight-knit relationship. Community development can have a positive impact on children by making investments that support healthy social and cognitive development. In turn, when children grow up in supportive environments, they are more likely to succeed in school and boost human capital, a key ingredient for building strong communities. Read more about Community Development and Child Development.

Does Your Code Provide Homelessness Solutions?

Homelessness has been prevalent in our region for some time, but in recent years there has been a clear increase in the number of homeless. This can be readily observed, and has been confirmed in various reports and statistical measurements. For example, the 2016 One Night Count in King County showed 4,505 homeless people, a 19 percent increase over 2015. Continue reading about Homelessness Solutions.

Homelessness & Housing Toolkit Provides Best Practices, Real-World Examples for Washington Cities

MRSC and the Association of Washington Cities (AWC) have recently partnered to produce the Homelessness & Housing Toolkit for Cities in order to document methods being employed by cities and counties to address the concurrent issues of homelessness and housing affordability. Despite a 10-year pledge to end homelessness in Washington by 2015, that deadline has come and gone.  Instead, Washington is 1 of only 13 states that saw an increase in its homeless population in 2016, up by 7.3% from 2015, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 2016 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress. Continue reading about the homelessness and housing toolkit

Youth Council making strides in creating activities, options for teens

Less than half a year after its inception the Arlington Youth Council is already creating activities for youth, such as art competitions, and supporting more options for local teens. Seven local teens formed the council last September and have been working toward their main mission of providing more recreation and activities for teens in the community. Continue reading on the Arlington Youth Council

San Jose Tackles Challenge of Digital Equity

The San José metro area is the most connected region in the United States according to the 2015 American Communities Survey. That same year, Bloomberg cited San José as America’s richest city, based on its high median income. San José, however, is very much a tale of two cities with significant inequality for income and connectedness. Read more on Challenge of Digital Equity

27 Actions Cities Can Take to Realize the Benefits of Shared-Use Mobility

From the launch of electric bikesharing systems to the rise of new carpooling concepts and microtransit services like Bridj and Chariot, cities today are facing the biggest disruption to the transportation sector since the automobile replaced the horse-drawn carriage… Read more on Shared-use mobility.

How to Close a Gender Gap: Let Employees Control Their Schedules

The main reason for the gender gaps at work — why women are paid less, why they’re less likely to reach the top levels of companies, and why they’re more likely to stop working after having children — is employers’ expectation that people spend long hours at their desks, research has shown. It’s especially difficult for women because they have disproportionate responsibility for care-giving… Read more on how to close a gender gap.

Washington State Magazine: Call it the Urban Extensionws-mag

The massive Oso landslide killed 43 people, caused extensive flooding, and destroyed a key highway north of Everett in 2014, pushing the communities of Arlington and Darrington to their breaking point. Working in partnership with the two municipalities, the Economic Alliance Snohomish County and numerous local partners, the Metro Center has steadily guided the communities in their quest for sustainable economic prosperity.

Printer friendly version: Call it the Urban Extension

Big House Big Business – A spotlight on the US Prison System

This spotlight on the US prison system first delves into the statistics of mass incarceration and the rise of the United States’ private prison system. Next, an article showcases a Las Vegas-based startup company named Pigeonly that helps inmates stay in contact with friends and family. Lastly, a spotlight article written by the Metro Center’s Community Sustainability Specialist, Antony Gromko, on reducing recidivism.

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