All Adults Eligible for COVID Vaccine April 15
Dear Neighbors and Friends:
On Wednesday Gov. Jay Inslee announced that all Washingtonians 16 and up will be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine starting April 15.
This comes shortly after millions of other Washingtonians were made eligible earlier as the state entered the newest tier of Phase 1B which includes: all people 60 and older; people 16+ with two or more underlying health conditions; restaurant, food service, manufacturing and construction workers in congregate settings; and people who live, work or volunteer in settings like prisons, group homes and places where people experiencing homelessness live or receive services.
Hearing that all Washingtonians age 16 and up will soon be vaccine eligible is great news and a game-changing moment in our battle against this pandemic, but the fight is not over yet. Cases have recently been on the rise in counties across Washington, including our own.
So let’s continue to mask-up, stay safe, and follow local public health guidelines. And as a reminder, you can always determine your current eligibility and find a vaccination site near you by visiting the Washington State Department of Health website.
Council Approves New Eviction and Rental Assistance Funding
Last Tuesday, the King County Council unanimously passed a $92 million supplemental budget, including $45.2 million to continue King County’s successful Eviction Prevention and Rental Assistance Program (EPRAP). In August 2020 King County created EPRAP to prevent evictions by distributing rental assistance quickly, efficiently, and equitably to both tenants and landlords.
The pandemic severely worsened the existing crisis of housing affordability in our region and expanding this rental assistance program is a needed step to keep our neighbors housed just as the economic recovery is beginning. In addition to this funding, King County Executive Dow Constantine has also requested $100 million of rental assistance be included in our next COVID budget, which would be funded by a grant from the State Department of Commerce.
Paired with the announcement from Governor Inslee that the statewide eviction moratorium will be extended until June 30th and we are seeing real progress mounting to prepare and curb the potential crisis our state may face.
Read more about the Eviction Prevent and Rental Assistance Program evaluation here
Participatory Budgeting Update
Last year, the Council set aside $10 million for residents of urban unincorporated King County to allocate through a participatory budgeting process. Now the King County Department of Local Services (DLS) is looking for community members to serve on its new Community Investment Committee. This committee will help determine how to spend:
• $10 million on capital projects in urban unincorporated areas. These capital funds can be used for anything that needs to be built or replaced, such as buildings, sidewalks, bike lanes, landscaping, signs, and play structures.
• $1.3 million for services or programs in Skyway-West Hill and North Highline. This funding can be used for almost anything, such as after-school programs, job training, building maintenance, food, art supplies, and investments in play structures and sidewalks.
The Community Investment Committee will design and carry out a participatory budgeting process centered on racial equity, which will build on community strengths, and will address priorities that the community has identified. The committee will make sure that communities have control over what the money is spent on, so the projects that are funded will address real community challenges and have the most benefit.
You can learn more about the Community Investment Committee during online Local Lunch meetings hosted by DLS. The Local Lunch takes place via Zoom, from noon to 1 p.m., every Friday.
You can access the Zoom link, along with sign-in information, at kingcounty.gov/localservices.
Violence Prevention in Rainier Beach
In case you missed it, last Thursday Seattle City Councilmember Tammy Morales and I joined a community-led town hall on public safety in the Rainier Beach neighborhood. It was an amazing and informative event where we heard directly from those doing the ground level work to make our community a safer and more engaging space for young people.
Check out the full conversation here!
Additionally, our office championed a $2 million amendment in the most recent supplemental budget that will provide funding directly to community-based organizations working to end gun violence in King County. For too long, our communities have not received the necessary resources to address the root causes of violence. It’s only a start, but we believe this puts us on a track to effectively engage at the most significant points of intervention.
You can read more coverage over at The Seattle Medium.
Small Business Spotlight
This week I launched a new video series over on my official Instagram page highlighting local small business in District 2. Our first video spotlights Kaffa Coffee and Wine Bar, an Ethiopian café in South Seattle.
So check out the full video here and stay tuned for new spotlights on the way!
Make Your Voice Heard, Give Public Testimony
All this year, the King County Council’s Law & Justice Committee will be considering legislation impacting the future of community safety in our region. Your voice will be essential in shaping some big-ticket items, including what role the Sheriff’s office will play in our communities and who the new Sheriff may be. Check the full details below as to how you can join soon!
Help us grow our reach!
My team and I send email updates like the one you’re currently reading every couple of weeks and we want to ensure we’re reaching as many of you in our community as possible. So if you know anyone who would like to receive these updates, please be sure to send them to over to our County Council website to sign up!
And as always, for more frequent and daily updates, you can check out our Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter pages. For the latest news, resources, and opportunities to engage with your King County government, follow me on the social media channels of your choice:
Councilmember Girmay Zahilay