King County Council, District 5

Dr. Shukri Olow

Question

Black wealth remains near zero due to centuries of systemic anti-Black racism and is on a trajectory to only worsen. In Seattle, white wealth is nearly 20x more than Black wealth. What specific actions will you take to close the Black-white wealth gap?

  1. How much of the Black-white wealth gap will you close while in office? 

  2. Who are you working with in the Black community to close it? 

  3. How will you support investing federal funding directly and specifically into the Black community in the next two years?

Answer

To address the wealth gap, we must look first at the history of racist and anti-black housing policy that has been the driving factor of economic apartheid that is worsening in Seattle and King County and the reason why housing policy is central to the movements for Black Lives, Indigenous sovereignty and the efforts to repair the harm of systematic white supremacist violence and land, property, and wealth expropriation.

Unequal access to homeownership opportunities throughout the 20th century was created by both explicit government policies such as redlining, the restriction of FDA loans to white households, and exclusionary zoning. These government policies colluded with the racist practices of the private real estate industry in the goal of creating generational wealth for the white middle class. In this way housing is THE central factor in the racial wealth gap.

Additionally, rising rents and housing costs and scarcity of affordable housing in my South King County district are the number one concern I hear from constituents. Skyrocketing rents are the primary the driver of gentrification and displacement, and King County has not done nearly enough to use the powers and levers it has to provide sufficient affordable housing. Households of color are disproportionately rent-burdened, putting us in the position every month of making choices between paying the rent or buying food, paying the rent or visiting the doctor, paying the rent or making the car payment. I have known these struggles, and this will be one of my top goals as King County Councilmember.

We must also support black economic development and professional recruitment and development. With two Sound Transit stations coming online in District 5 in the near future, we must prioritize combating displacement and gentrification with BIPOC / WMBE-focused local-hire mandates for all public contracts, community ownership of public / surplus land, guaranteed local prioritization of affordable housing, and on-going impact mitigation analysis for communities of color.

While it will take years to combat the racial wealth gap, as we have as a region committed to ending carbon emissions, we can commit to ending the racial wealth gap. I will work to pass legislation in my first year that will develop a plan to closing the racial wealth gap by 2035 and will work with groups like King County Equity Now and BIPOC community members to ensure community accountability.

Next Candidate

Joe Nguyen

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