Reflections on conversations with Housing Affordability experts

Our meetings in January and February have been dedicated to meeting with experts in housing affordability. So far we have had the pleasure of meeting with Uche Okezie and Rachel Eagan for Homesight, Eric Pravitz from Homestead, and James Madden for Enterprise Community partners; to talk about models and solutions. We also were able to speak with John Fox for Outside City Hall, and Reagan Jackson who does a lot of community work opposing gentrification including writing articles like Brad and Becky from Bellevue are Coming to Rainier Beach; to talk to us about housing affordability from activist’s perspectives.

I asked the youth leaders to reflect on these conversations, here’s what they said:

And if you want to hear my narration, here’s a video:

Stand For Children WA’s Advocacy Day!

Local hero, and “angry mom” (ie very strong advocate for education!), Natalie Hester invited the SYNC Youth Leadership Council to participate in Stand For Children‘s Day of Action in Olympia Washington! While all youth leaders were excited to participate in this advocacy day, only two young leaders were able to miss a day of school and come. We had a great time, both leaders spoke beautifully from their own education experiences, it was awesome!

Two of SYNC’s youth leaders are advocating for racial equity and real support for students! Meeting with Senator Rebecca Saldaña‘s aide #StandForWaStudents
A couple photos in the state capital with two youth leadership council members! #StandForWaStudents
A couple photos in the state capital with two youth leadership council members! #StandForWaStudents
Your humble SYNC coordinator was beyond proud to watch our young leaders speak with their representatives about their experiences in school. Stand For Children is advocating for a number of legislative changes that would make public schools better. Including improving counseling services- Jordan, a senior at Renton High School, has never met with his! #StandForWaStudents
We had a wonderful meeting with our representative Eric Pettigrew ! A great supporter of the work #StandForChildrenWa is doing! #StandForWaStudents
Hanging at the Senate chambers! #StandForWaStudents
here we are, with four other youth leaders who came to speak about their educational experience from Tukwila. We had just finished doing floor pulls, where we invite legislators in session to come out and talk to us.
some more group shots with everyone who came out to #StandForChildrenWA’s day of advocacy! It was a great day working with young people, and impassioned youth workers advocating for Washington’s public schools! #StandForWaStudents
some more group shots with everyone who came out to #StandForChildrenWA’s day of advocacy! It was a great day working with young people, and impassioned youth workers advocating for Washington’s public schools! #StandForWaStudents
We came, we saw, we advocated!


Year Two: we’re well on our way!

SYNC’s Youth Leadership Council has been meeting for the last three months. As with our first year, the beginning of our council is always focused on team building and Social Emotional Learning. Here are the bookends on that part of our journey.

Our Youth Leadership Council members (minus 1), showing off the contributions we made together for the family Potluck after our first meeting.
The full spread they made together. Pizza skewers, sun dried tomato dip, olive dip, and beautifully arranged crackers!

For our last meeting of 2019 we watched Mykki Blanco’s performance of I Want A Dyke For President, a poem by Zoe Leonard written in 1992. We talked about who in our society gets to be power holders, why that’s the case, and who we wish we could see as president (or as a front runner candidate). Then we wrote our own version of the poem.

SYNC Youth Leadership Council Wants a Dyke For President
I want a person of Color for President
Someone who has endured hardships throughout their lives
Someone who understands all sides, views, and aspects of this country
And someone that the people of American can directly relate to
Someone who worked for everything they have
I want a president who is a “first”
First in their family to graduate high school
First in their community to gain citizenship
First in their profession to work not for money
First in their position who looks like them, talks like them, lives like them, a doer, not a sayer
Determined to be the person that they never had themselves
And never knew they could have needed
I want a president with a birthmark on their face
I want a homeless person
I want a president that’s an immigrant
I want a president with cancer
I want a president who is deformed
I want an indigenous woman for president
With her dark hair and dark skin
Leading the path to different traditions
I want a student for president
Still learning and studying
I want an artist for president
A social worker for president
An Afro-Caribbean for president
I want those with privilege to step down
And let those in darkness to step up
I want a Skyway resident to be president
Or a 7-Eleven employee
Or a Grocery Outlet bagger
Or a SYNC Youth Leader
Or a catfish Corner frycook
I want a person grinding through work, day in and day out, just to support his or her family. I want a representative person who has the experiences to speak for my community the best. I want a person who has the drive to make change it is what’s truly the best for EVERYONE.

SYNC Youth Leadership Council members (plus one of last year’s graduate) with their section of our combined poem
SYNC Youth Leadership Council members (plus one of last year’s graduate) showing off their white elephant gifts

Survey results are in!

After months of learning about data and information gathering the SYNC Youth Leadership Council created a survey that they distributed to their peers to find out what youth in Skyway. The surveys were distributed via social media, our partner organizations in SYNC, mailers in Skyway Water and Sewer bills, and dropping off surveys at all apartments that would accept them throughout Skyway. We got responses from 81 young people ages 6-24 who live in the Skyway/West Hill community.

The Youth Leadership Council asked their peers to rank the following priorities from most important to least.

EE= Early Education: Child care and preschools in our community

AH= Affordable Housing: To stabilize housing prices for homes that already exist, and creating new completely affordable housing for people who have lived in Skyway for a while.

IY= Investment in Skyway Youth: Government funding to pay for resources that will better impact youth in Skyway long term. Such as youth employment, Scholarship & Higher Education coaching, Interventions for at under-severed youth.

CGS= Community Gathering Spaces: For educational programming, artistic programming, community meeting rooms, sports and recreational activities and equipment, rooms for celebrations, out of school time programming, free food, and a place for our community to hang out.

PT= Public Transportation: Both to travel outside of Skyway, and to travel throughout the Skyway Community. Improved walkability and sidewalks.

As the graph above shows Affordable Housing and an Investment in Youth are the top two priorities for young people in Skyway. As we begin our second year of the Youth Leadership Council we will be focusing solely on housing affordability (as that’s a big enough, and complicated enough project for more then a year’s worth of work), learning about the issues, and advocating for positive change in our community.

If you would like to join our calls to action please sign up to be an adult ally!

*The adult members of SYNC will work on pursuing all priorities, but with a focus on housing affordability and especially on an investment in Skyway Youth.