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You Don't Need To Be Wonky To Volunteer For Seattle's HALA Community Focus Groups

Ashley Gross

When you bring it up with your neighbors, it can feel like a conversation about religion or politics —topics many people only wade into after careful consideration. But it’s exactly these sorts of conversations the city of Seattle wants people to have around Seattle’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda.

For many, the mayor’s set of 65 recommendations to improve housing affordability and availability, known as HALA, is emotional. Homeowners and renters say they’re being pitted against each other, while whispers of “evil” sometimes describe developers. So, Seattle is pulling together focus groups – made up of residents citywide who can bring their neighborhoods’ perspectives to the table.

The deadline to apply is Friday, February 26.

Kathy Nyland is director of the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods and she says you needn’t be a policy wonk to apply.

“I understand emotions and I understand that’s where so many start from, but I also believe there’s more common ground than not,” she said. “So we will be able to have a constructive conversation, especially when the right information and the correct information is presented, instead of inaccuracies or misinformation.”

From the get-go, most of the applicants have come from North Seattle, which has sparked some criticism. Nyland says they’re doing targeted outreach to under-represented neighborhoods, and extending the deadline for non-native English speakers to Friday, March 11.

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