What the hell is going on with Kshama Sawant? This morning, Seattle City Council Member Kshama Sawant sent a vague advisory to reporters. She gave a time and a place for a press conference, but no SparkNotes version of the “important announcement regarding her council office” that she will make later this morning. I’ll keep you posted, or you can see for yourself on YouTube. Update: Here's that announcement. I'll update this post as I learn more.
"Abuse, neglect, and dishonest practices:" As Jas wrote in Slog PM yesterday, on-the-ground advocates for unhoused people continue their crusade against the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI), a nonprofit that manages almost every tiny shelter village in town.
INBOX: Mutual aid groups accuse Low Income Housing Institute of "abuse, neglect and dishonest practices" at its tiny shelter villages. They call the KCRHA and elected officials to establish third-party oversight and "dismantle LIHI's monopoly" over tiny shelters in the region. pic.twitter.com/9es2hrt9DK— Hannah Krieg (@hannahkrieg) January 18, 2023
LIHI responds: LIHI executive director Sharon Lee sent a lengthy response to The Stranger. Lee said that while the nonprofit takes all suggestions seriously, it's important to remember that the signatories of the letter do not have “first hand knowledge” of the villages’ practices. She also said the groups did not try to handle the issue privately with LIHI before sending out an open letter to elected officials and the King County Regional Homelessness Authority. She said she's happy to meet with the groups to discuss further.
On the two deaths: In response to the most serious accusation from the mutual aid groups–that LIHI did not notice the death of two villagers for weeks–Lee claimed that’s “simply untrue.” She said a villager tragically died of an overdose in a LIHI village recently, but she claimed the village staff discovered his death within 72 hours while conducting wellness checks, which, according to LIHI policy, are supposed to happen every 72 hours if a villager is MIA. I'm working to verify Lee's claim with a village resident who claims they witnessed the alleged negligence.
Before we move on: LIHI is also in legal trouble. A former villager filed a lawsuit against the nonprofit, accusing LIHI of unlawfully evicting him from his tiny shelter. According to Publicola, this case is a big fucking deal. If it goes the villager's way, it would reclassify tiny shelters as housing, extending landlord-tenant law protections against evictions to these residents.
Show me the numbers: Council Member Tammy Morales wants HSD to record the reasons people do not accept shelter, so the City can, y’know, make shelter more appealing. In a Seattle City Council committee briefing yesterday, the Human Services Department (HSD) reported that when the City offers unhoused people shelter, about 46% actually enroll in the shelter program. There’s a ton of reasons why someone might not accept shelter. For example, they may have pets they can’t bring, or they may have had a traumatic experience at a shelter, or perhaps the offer is just a bed at an overnight shelter so they’d rather stay in their tent so no one steals. But that’s just anecdotal, and Morales wants some numbers.
A little help here? After two bullets shot through Comet Tavern Saturday morning, the owner of the bar told Capitol Hill Seattle Blog that he’s shocked by the “apathy” of the Seattle Police Department, the City Council, and Mayor Bruce Harrell. We'll see if Harrell lobbies for the state to let cities write their own gun laws, but from what his spokesperson said, he's focused on addressing the issue by hiring more cops.
Rest in Peace: As of yesterday, the King County Medical Examiner’s Office has yet to release Hansoo Kim's name, a 58 year-old man who was killed in a robbery at his teriyaki restaurant last weekend. He is remembered as a devoted father and someone always willing to lend a helping hand. In just three days, the GoFundMe to support family, his restaurant, and the cost of his funeral has raised over $60,000.
Open house: There’s nothing like spending a Sunday walking around a home I will never afford in those goofy, over-the-shoe socks. But the Seattle Times has the next best thing–a look inside the most expensive home sales of 2022.
The (expensive) mystery of the dismembered foot: Clallam County law enforcement wants to crowdfund a DNA test for a foot that washed ashore in a women’s size 8 shoe near Port Angeles. So far, the fundraiser has attracted just over $1,000 of their $7,500 goal, according to the Seattle Times.
Today’s the day: The US is expected to hit its debt ceiling today unless Congress takes “extraordinary measures” to hike up the debt limit. Don’t expect Congress to come to an agreement anytime soon. Axios said that the gridlock is expected to last until summer, with the two parties bitterly divided on the issue of government spending. According to NBC News, this could disrupt Social Security and Medicare.
Prosecutors will charge Alec Baldwin with involuntary manslaughter: In 2021, on the set of a movie called Rust, a cinematographer was shot and killed with a gun Baldwin was holding, according to BBC. The film's armorer, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, is also being charged with the same crime.
Solidarity against solitary: Incarcerated people in Texas have entered week two of a hunger strike protesting the cruel practice of locking inmates in solitary confinement. The state of Texas currently holds 3,000 people in solitary confinement. More than 500 of those people have sat all alone for at least a decade, and more than 100 for two decades or more. Texas says they keep people in solitary to keep other inmates safe, but human rights groups say the practice amounts to torture.
Protect your peace: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden put in her notice yesterday and will resign from her position effective Feb. 7. Though she’s earned international recognition for her COVID-19 response, her approval rates among her constituents have fallen dramatically. In the face of high disapproval that NBC News called “vitriolic abuse,” Arden said she no longer has “enough in the tank” to govern. The Labour Party will hold an election for a new PM on Sunday.
I just needed her today, okay?