High rents are making it difficult

Affordable housing bill needed for state employees because high rents “are making it difficult for them to survive”

AFSCME Council 28 (WFSE) members and our allies countered opponents and made a strong case today for our priority affordable housing bill as a matter of survival for many state employees.

PHOTO (from left): Rod Palmquist, WFSE/AFSCME; Chris Genese, Washington Community Action Network; Tommy Fuglestad, Local 304, North Seattle College; Joelle Craft, WACAN; and Jim Hulse, Local 793, Western State Hospital.

“The price of housing in Seattle has skyrocketed and because of that it’s impacting a lot of state workers because their cost of living is not equal to wages,” Local 304 member Tommy Fuglestad testified on HB 2583 before the House Judiciary Committee this morning (Jan. 23).

The skyrocketing rents in King County and other high-cost areas of the state are “making it difficult for them to survive,” he said.

Fuglestad, who works at North Seattle College and is a member of the Federation’s Statewide Executive Board, was joined by members of Western State Hospital Local 793 in a show of support for the affordable housing bill.

High housing costs are forcing more and more state employees to move farther and farther away from their worksites with increasingly burdensome commute times, he said.

“And it’s more than just in Seattle,” Fuglestad said. “A lot of times many of them are forced to work more than one job to be able to make ends meet.”

HB 2583  would remove the state ban on rent control so local governments could have the option of regulating the amount of rent charged for single-family and multiple-unit residential rental structures.

“It gives cities the freedom to kind of look at all their different options and find local solutions to the housing crisis,” WFSE Local 304 President Alex Bacon said in an interview the night before on KOMO-TV.

Affordable Housing hearing 1/23/18

PHOTO: The hearing on the affordable housing bill was so packed, many had to go to an overflow room to watch the hearing remotely. From left: Watching Local 304 member Tommy Fuglestad's testimony are, from left: Jim Hulse, Local 793, Western State Hospital; Robert Devlin, Local 793, Western State Hospital; and Rod Palmquist, WFSE/AFSCME.