Homelessness and Housing
Olympia faces a crisis of homelessness. More and more people live outside in the cold and wet. A lack of stable housing is intersecting with inadequate treatment for physical health, mental health and addiction, making the impacts worse. Social service providers are overwhelmed. Some people are afraid to go downtown. Local businesses are losing customers.
We need a long-term plan based in evidence.
Homelessness is a regional problem, but the impacts are local. Olympia has been forced to be a first responder to this crisis. We need a response that cares for vulnerable people and holds each other accountable. We need a crisis management plan that provides immediate relief, manages for change, and leads to permanent solutions. Our strategy must be based in accurate data so we can measure our progress and know if our approach is working. As an urgent priority, I will work to bring together everyone willing to be part of the solution. Together we can define success and how to achieve it.
We should start with housing.
For those living on the streets who are ready for change, the critical first step is to get them housed. Shelter is a basic need—dry and warm, safe and stable. It stops a downward spiral and gives people an opportunity to rebuild their lives. Once this basic need is met, we can help those with mental health, addiction, and other challenges. Our community will be stronger when everyone has the opportunity to succeed.
We have to address housing needs for everyone.
Olympia is growing less and less affordable for low and middle income families. Incomes have not kept pace with rent increases. I will advocate for more and diverse housing so everyone can find a home that is right for them. I want to protect vulnerable renters, such as requiring more notice for no-fault evictions and rent increases. I also want to ensure that short-term vacation rentals and long-term vacancies don’t create a barrier to those seeking permanent housing.
The Environment and Climate Change
I want Olympia to be celebrated for how we care for our natural environment. We can enjoy the gifts of natural beauty around us as we steward them for the next generation.
Olympia needs a healthy Puget Sound.
We are blessed to live on beautiful Budd Inlet. I value clean water, habitat for fish and wildlife, and recreation on the water. As we discuss the future of Capitol Lake, I will advocate for decisions based in science that restore the health of Puget Sound and the Deschutes River. It is important to find solutions that resolve economic impacts to the local marinas and the port. I will also explore how this issue could alleviate the impact of sea level rise.
Sea level rise is an imminent threat to downtown.
Climate change is real and Olympia must prepare for sea level rise. Downtown is an important cultural and economic center of our community. The city has a tentative plan to protect downtown. The short-term strategies are necessary, but the long-term plan is too vague. I want the public to truly understand the choices and tradeoffs with a range of options to consider. The city must prepare now for recurrent flooding in the future. I will advocate that we identify spaces for parks that can be designed to contain water during high flood events.
I will weave environmental stewardship throughout city government.
Caring for our environment is more than big actions. It is also many small ones. I will advocate for transportation networks that make it easier and safer to walk, bike, and take the bus. I will incorporate habitat restoration and urban food projects into our city parks and natural open spaces. I will pursue bold actions to reduce our contribution to climate change. In every council decision, I will look for ways to make our environment and community healthier.
Friendly and Welcoming Neighborhoods
I love the distinct communities within Olympia. Each neighborhood has its own identity. I want to preserve the charm of our neighborhoods, even as the city continues to grow.
Great neighborhoods make a great city.
Olympia neighborhoods should be walkable and welcoming. My neighbors are telling me that they need better sidewalks, increased safety, and more places to be outside. I want all of Olympia to remain a wonderful place to live and raise a family. For each proposal before the city council, I will ask: does this make our neighborhoods stronger?
Neighborhood associations need more support.
Strong neighborhood associations make our community better. When neighbors come together, we build relationships and achieve common goals. I have seen this first hand when I have organized or participated in projects that paint murals, establish walking paths, make intersections safer, and offer social activities. I want to encourage broad and diverse participation from every neighborhood in Olympia. I will invest in projects that create strong incentives for more people to get involved. I will support training for neighborhoods to reach out to their communities.
I want to have better conversations in Olympia.
Good decisions are informed by good conversations. I believe an important role of local government is to host opportunities for people to find shared interests and values. I will advocate for creative and more constructive ways to engage with residents about city issues. And most importantly, as a member of city council, I will always listen.