Housing is a Basic Human Right

By: Meg Martin - Nonprofit CEO

I am many things. I am a person who loves people, I am a bridge builder, I am married to a downtown business owner, I’ve gone through significant struggle, I am a professional social worker and a neighbor who believes that no one should be left behind in our community. I am someone who cares deeply about housing, but I also care deeply about climate, equity, and open spaces. I am totally devoted to the wellbeing of our downtown and I’m down there every day!

In order for economic vitality for all people, we must ensure that every person has a place to call home. Jim is someone who understands this. In order to get to this necessary place we must take action to meet the immediate needs of people on the street and plan for long term solutions to our housing affordability crisis on all levels.

The City of Olympia has taken significant steps in this direction over the past 5 years under the leadership of councilmembers like Jim Cooper. Support for creative, out of the box solutions, such as Micro Housing and designated sanctioned encampment spaces due to lack of shelter beds, providing hygiene and garbage services to unsheltered residents of our community, supporting the construction of a supportive shelter co-located with 65 apartments of permanent supportive housing to create efficiencies in construction and operations costs to serve more people, but most of all taking a firm leadership role that this is an issue which impacts us all.

On climate, there is no time to waste

By: Lisa Parshley - Olympia Councilmember

Jim Cooper was my climate partner from Olympia during the crafting of the regional climate plan. I support Jim because he is a proven leader in climate.

In nine years, our planet will cross a line from which we may never recover, a point of no return in climate. Our region, country, and world has already seen clear signs of this change, including long seasons of catastrophic wildfires, hazardous air quality for the entire west coast, and in some areas, lasting health impacts on our community. Climate is and will be an emergency that intersects with all our other crises facing our nation, state, and local jurisdictions.

In response to this very real existential threat, our region agreed we would reduce our carbon footprint by 45% of 2015 values by 2030, and 85% by 2050. To achieve these goals, the four major jurisdictions in Thurston County, community stakeholders, and community members worked to develop the climate mitigation plan. In February 2021, all four jurisdictions accepted the Thurston County Climate Mitigation plan, and three of the four jurisdictions declared a climate emergency (Tumwater, Olympia, and the County).

Our plan focuses on five central themes to achieve our goals:

  1. Greening our grid (generation of electricity with 100% renewable sources and increased energy efficiency in homes and businesses)
  2. Shifting energy sources (more electric appliances and electric vehicles),
  3. Living lighter (densifying our neighborhoods, getting out of cars, and reducing food waste and other waste)
  4. Storing carbon (preserving tree canopy while planting trees, pre- serving farmlands, and encouraging regenerative farmlands preserving prairies), and
  5. Building local capacity and resilience (coordinated regional leadership, monitoring greenhouse gasses, monitoring progress on goals, and factor in funding and supporting green economy).

All of our goals can be divided into four levels of responsibility: state level legislation, regional coordinated efforts, in the local jurisdictions, and within the community. In our plan, all actions at all levels of responsibility must consider equity, as those most impact from climate will be people of color, marginalized communities, and low-income families. Lastly, costs of achieving these goals will need to be distributed equally and equitably in our region.

In nine years, we will cross a climate line we cannot afford to cross. To ensure future generations will have a habitable planet, we must elect leaders like Jim who are bold and courageous. We need leaders who are willing to take the necessary actions outlined in our climate mitigation plan.

Equity

I will focus on equitable economic recovery

The housing and economic emergencies transcend all crises. With a balanced approach, we will:

  • Focus on incentivizing construction of all types of housing units.
  • Create more permanent supportive housing units to meet the needs of our most vulnerable neighbors.
  • Ensure the viability of small businesses and arts organizations.
  • Invest in working families.

I am committed to continuing to enact equitable policies in Olympia to ensure that we all experience shared prosperity. I will vigorously work in support of a balanced approach to development, implementing our landmark climate plan, and reforming our criminal justice system.

Comparing Olympia’s current status with other local communities clearly shows that we are doing better than most. I am incredibly proud Olympia residents have taken proactive steps to address the crises that hit our community in recent years. I am proud to have helped lead that movement.

The emergencies we face are truly unprecedented. I am confident we will continue to keep our community moving forward. It will take all of us working together to create a just path forward.

Jim is committed to transparency and ensuring your proven values

I’m learning a lot about equity and I deeply appreciate the community for joining me in this journey. This has been a dynamic year of learning for most of us. Our job now is to place equity front and center in all decisions we make to ensure a healthy, vibrant community for everyone.

There are many reasons why some people do not have adequate shelter. We must meet people where they are with avenues to secure housing, especially the most vulnerable. Our experiences show when people are housed, they are able to pursue solutions to life’s challenging circumstances.

Housing and childcare are the greatest costs for Olympia families. We can help families by providing incentives to build affordable housing, create living wage jobs, raise minimum wage, and support the success of small businesses.

Reforming our criminal justice system is one of my top priorities. Our criminal justice system must become more equitable. We are hosting community conversations focused on eliminating racism which will result in a social justice and equity commission. These important efforts will yield changes to the way we work and do business in Olympia. I am dedicated to the implementation of the recommendations resulting from these conversations.

Olympia is at a Crossroads

It’s my honor and privilege to ask for your vote again. Thank you for taking the time to read what I have to say. That honor is real, in good times and bad times. Olympia faces many challenges as we navigate simultaneous emergencies of pandemic, climate, opioids, and housing, which create significant economic uncertainties for every resident.

My question is, what can we learn from these crises, while adequately supporting less fortunate neighbors? While complex, I am proud to be a leader in addressing these challenging issues.

We need a just and equitable recovery for everyone. This means listening compassionately during difficult conversations, and acting with courage to ensure that this recovery brings equity and opportunity throughout the community. We can do better. I promise to keep fighting for the success of all Olympia families.

“It takes all of us.”