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Council Member Sawant Criticizes Murray’s Affordable Housing Committee

Elaine Thompson
Associated Press
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Seattle City Council Member Kshama Sawant is criticizing Mayor Ed Murray’s newly created affordable housing committee, saying the group is skewed toward developers with not enough low-income housing advocates.

One other person who’s notably absent from the committee is Sawant herself. As a Socialist, she’s been fighting for progressive causes and was a key figure in the push to raise the city’s minimum wage.

Sawant said it’s not that she needs to be on the affordable housing committee, but she said to really come up with solutions to the city’s skyrocketing cost of housing, renters, especially low-income renters, should have been included.

"I think a lot of people are fed up with this idea that big business has a seat at the table always and many seats at the table, whereas low-income advocates, or just in general advocates for social justice, have to fight for a seat at the table," Sawant said in an interview.

She said the mayor should have tapped public housing tenants who have recently spoken out against a plan by Seattle Housing Authority to dramatically raise rents, and said it is an affront that SHA’s executive director is on the steering committee of the mayor’s group.

Murray’s spokesman Jason Kelly said the housing authority needs to be included and the rent hikes will be something the group will tackle. Kelly said the group represents a wide variety of perspectives and is not skewed one way or the other.

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.