King County Democrats reaffirm commitment to finding effective and expedient solutions to our homelessness crisis

Last night, at the invitation of host Jason Rantz, Omaha Sternberg, who is one of nine independently elected officers of the King County Democrats, appeared on KIRO 97.3 FM to discuss her personal views on addressing homelessness, following a lively discussion on Twitter earlier in the day.

Though Omaha was speaking only for herself, she was identified before and after her on-air comments as an officer of our organization, without any disclaimer that she was not speaking on behalf of the King County Democrats.

In response, King County Democratic Chair Rich Erwin — the sole officer authorized to speak on behalf of the county party by the King County Democratic Central Committee (KCDCC) — issued the following statement.

“As Democrats, we believe we must work together to build inclusive communities where no one is shut out. We believe everyone should have a place to call home, and that access to shelter is a basic human right. Many people across our county are currently living without a home, and that’s unacceptable. We believe that addressing our region’s homelessness crisis must be a top priority, and we call upon King County Executive Dow Constantine, our Democratic council majority, and city leaders across our county to join forces to find effective, expedient ways to house our homeless fellow citizens.”

“The notion of setting aside an island somewhere where our region’s homeless population can create a self-governing community is an inappropriate fantasy that does not merit serious consideration. It’s not something we support as a county party. The policy directions we do support are clearly articulated in the platform approved by the delegates to the 2016 King County Democratic Convention last spring. We urge activists and reporters alike to read our platform to understand our positions on the issues and the values we hold that serve as the foundation for those positions.”

Human Services Plank of the 2016 King County Democratic Platform

As a caring community, we must provide a safety net of social services that meets the basic needs of people, especially those on the margins of society, so they can attain their full potential.

  1. With poverty having increased despite the “end” of the recession, ensuring compassionate human services must be among the highest priorities of federal, state, and local government.
  2. We support programs that reduce poverty, not just reduce the welfare rolls.
  3. We must ensure that all people have access to safe, affordable housing. We support:
    1. Low-income subsidized housing with supportive services for those who cannot work, especially those with mental illness (including chemical dependency).
    2. Targeting affordable housing programs toward those who need them most.
    3. Workforce housing programs, especially those targeting workers earning between minimum wage (approximately 30% of Area Median Income, “AMI”) and a living wage (60% of AMI).
    4. Shelters as a transition to permanent housing.
    5. The Housing First policy for homeless people who need a home in order to begin recovery.
    6. The Rapid Rehousing policy for families who need help to maintain school and community ties while finding new homes.
  4. We oppose subsidizing market-rate housing for those who earn 60% or more of AMI.
  5. Farm workers and their families must have safe and adequate housing, sanitary facilities, and access to medical care and education.
  6. Each person being released from a state institution should be assisted in preparing a plan for re-entry housing upon release.
  7. We support restoring the Housing and Essential Needs stipend (state public assistance for people with disabilities) to safeguard the dignity and well-being of the vulnerable poor.
  8. Quality affordable childcare, education, workforce training, and substance abuse treatment must be provided to help working parents leave welfare and poor people escape poverty.
  9. Taxpayer-funded social services must not be conditioned on faith-based requirements.
  10. Preventing child abuse and neglect must be a priority for our state. The foster care system must be restructured to protect the child, and adequately funded and administered. We support Gov. Inslee’s initiative to establish a separate Children’s Administration.
  11. Adult Family Homes should be adequately regulated and funded.
  12. Washington State must provide a long-term care program that provides in-home care alternatives to nursing homes and Medicaid, including respite for family care providers.
  13. Services for people with developmental disabilities and their families should be strengthened and programs made more flexible. We should fund promised services, ending the waiting list.
  14. The State should fund the Family and Medical Leave Act.

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