News

Override Mayor’s Veto on JumpStart COVID Relief Bill

We need your help. Please join us now in supporting the Seattle City Council to override Mayor Durkan’s veto on the JumpStart COVID relief bill. The bill does not have to end here: if the Mayor vetoes a bill, it is sent back to the City Council for reconsideration, and the City Council may override the veto by a two-thirds vote. Take action now by emailing your councilmembers and feel free to adapt this sample message.

1. Identify or verify which councilmembers represent you based on your address: https://www.seattle.gov/council/meet-the-council/find-your-district-and-councilmembers.

District 1 – Lisa Herbold: lisa.herbold@seattle.gov

District 2 – Tammy Morales: tammy.morales@seattle.gov

District 3 – Kshama Sawant: kshama.sawant@seattle.gov

District 4 – Alex Pedersen: alex.pedersen@seattle.gov

District 5 – Debora Juarez: debora.juarez@seattle.gov

District 6 – Dan Strauss: dan.strauss@seattle.gov

District 7 – Andrew Lewis: andrew.lewis@seattle.gov

District 8 (city-wide) – Teresa Mosqueda: teresa.mosqueda@seattle.gov

District 9 (city-wide) – Lorena González: lorena.gonzalez@seattle.gov

2. Create a new email with the following components:

To: {Your district councilmember’s email address goes here}, teresa.mosqueda@seattle.gov; lorena.gonzalez@seattle.gov

Subject line: Override Durkan’s Veto on JumpStart Bill

Sample message (edit as you see fit):

Councilmembers,

I urge you to reaffirm your unanimous vote on the JumpStart COVID relief bill as soon as possible.

Our communities need support now. Federal and state aid, though vital, continues to be inadequate. The longer the city waits to act, the more families accrue rental debt and risk eviction, children suffer from food insecurity, immigrant families have nowhere to turn, small businesses go under, and our neighbors experiencing homelessness risk illness or death from COVID-19. To let this happen is irresponsible and will harm Seattle’s economic recovery.

Today is the rainy day. Please act swiftly to override Mayor Durkan’s veto and authorize $86 million this year for rental assistance and safe shelter, immigrant and refugee supports, expanded grocery vouchers, and direct assistance to small businesses and childcare centers.

Thank you,

{Your full name goes here}

3. Send your email.

Things to Know about August Primary

“Voting is not only our right – it is our power.” –Loung Ung

A major election is coming up, and we at El Centro de la Raza want to make sure that you have the information you need to participate. We believe that participation in our democratic electoral process is an indelible part of our society, and now more than ever, we need the community to make their voices heard.

Please read below for important reminders and information on how to get out the vote!

Primary Election – August 4
The next Primary election is Tuesday, August 4! In this election, voters will choose their top candidates for Washington State Governor, Secretary of State, Treasurer, and nine other state-level positions. In addition, voters will choose US Representatives for up to four congressional districts, State Senators and Representatives for up to 17 Legislative Districts, and up to three Ballot Measures for King County. It will be a large and important election for us in Washington!

Do YOU know where to go to register? You can do it: 

The last day to register to vote online or by mail for the August 4 Primary election is TODAY, Monday, July 27! After today, you must register to vote in person by visiting your local voter center in order to be eligible to vote by election day. Find your nearest voter center here. Please note that, in keeping with public safety measures, voting centers will be limited in availability and may have increased wait times and capacity restrictions, so it is highly recommended that you register online today if possible!

Ask all your friends if they are registered to vote!

Who Can Register to Vote
To register to vote in Washington, you must be: 

  • A citizen of the United States 
  • Currently living Washington State
  • At least 18 years old by election day 
  • Not disqualified from voting due to a court order
  • Not under Department of Corrections supervision for a Washington felony conviction 

Read more about who can vote in Washington. 

Already registered? Turn in Your Ballot
For those of you who are already registered and have received your ballot in the mail – you are halfway there! Submitting your ballot is now more convenient than ever! You have three ways to turn your ballot in:

  • At a designated drop box: There are drop boxes located throughout King County. Locate your nearest drop box here. Drop boxes close at 7:59pm on election day!
  • By mail: All ballot envelopes are stamped, addressed, and ready to be sent via postal mail – just make sure you give your ballot time to arrive at your voting center by Election Day! We recommend dropping your ballot in the mail by the Friday before Election Day to make sure it gets postmarked in time to be counted. If you are in doubt, use a dropbox instead.
  • In person at your local voter center. Voter centers open in King County during the weeks leading up to local elections. Find your nearest voter center here.

If you are registered to vote and HAVE NOT yet received your ballot in the mail, contact King County Elections at (206) 296-VOTE (8683) or elections@kingcounty.gov

Did You Know?
Washington State mail-in ballots require that voters sign the outside of their ballot envelope prior to returning it. If a signature is missing or is done improperly it can delay the counting of your ballot, and even the results of the election. Do not let this happen to you! Make sure you sign the return envelope of your ballot before returning it. Please contact elections@kingcounty.gov or call 206-296-VOTE (8683) if you need assistance.

Volunteer With Us
We are so thankful to our volunteers, who have helped us spread the word about the importance of voting throughout King County. They have gone to events, agency programs, and have even taken to the phones to help the community register vote. 

Are you interested in volunteering in voter registration at El Centro De La Raza? Email volunteer@elcentrodelaraza.org for more information!

Support Additional 0.2% Sales Tax for Transit

Currently, Seattle has a 0.1% sales tax + $60 car tabs to help pay for about 300,000 hours in bus service annually. A new proposal is on the table for the November ballot: a 0.1% tax, without the car tabs, which would result in 80,000 hours instead of 300,000. Due to the loss in car tab revenue, it is possible that neighborhoods in the south end could lose their bus routes. This disruption would be devastating to our communities that have been pushed out of the city due to housing affordability issues.

The Seattle Transportation Benefit District (SBTD) is a sales tax created by the City of Seattle that creates revenue for transit service. As the SBTD sets to expire this year, the City Council is voting to continue SBTD so that there is a 0.1% sales tax. The revenue from this tax will fund fare affordability programs, such as the free youth fare, purchasing service hours from Metro, and alternative solutions for West Seattle Commuters. With the passage of I-976 last year, our transit infrastructure is facing a major deficit and could stand to lost 300,000 bus service hours – which will be devastating to communities of color and low-income communities reliant on public transit. SBTD is essential to not only maintaining transit infrastructure but also the quality of life for many of our communities

We understand that there might be an amendment to increase SBTD from 0.1% to a 0.2% sales tax. While we must acknowledge that any sales tax is regressive and disproportionately puts the burden on low-income and working class Seattle residents, our communities also stand the most to lose from transit cuts. Many of our essential workers are reliant on bus service hours and fare affordability. Knowing that our communities need affordable and expansive public transit, we support this amendment with the caveat that revenue raised from SBTD prioritizes bus service hours and the maintenance of transit routes on the south end (such as the 7, 36, and 106). SBTD must prioritize and meet the needs of our most vulnerable communities through a robust racial equity lens.

There are two ways to take action right now:

  1. Please urge your councilmembers to vote for the additional funds proposed by Councilmember Tammy Morales. Take 30 seconds to send them your letter of support using this form.
  2. Organizations and individuals can show support for SBTD by signing up to give public comment at the City Council meeting on Monday, July 27, at 2 PM (and/or provide written comment) here: http://www.seattle.gov/council/committees/public-comment.

Taking Care of our Seniors

In May, our Senior Hub provided 681 meals to 71 adults over the age of 55. Five of those participants are new to our services. We provide senior participants to-go lunches Mondays through Fridays from 11 AM to 1 PM. In addition, we deliver 25 lunches three times a week to homebound seniors. On Wednesdays, we include a bag of groceries with their lunches.

As we continue to check in with our senior participants by phone, we ask them whether they need a face mask or other resources. When seniors come to pick up their lunches on Wednesdays, we also provide hand sanitizer and face mask, made possible by a generous donor.

Meeting Diverse Nutritional Needs

Our Food Bank continues to distribute groceries during COVID-19. During the week, we provide grocery items to 700 individuals and deliver groceries to roughly 100 households, of which 40% are people who are homebound because of varying circumstances.

Each week, our Food Bank staff receive voicemails and emails from these households letting us know how helpful it is to have the option to receive weekly grocery deliveries. In particular, one family emailed to request a wider variety of fresh items due to existing dietary restrictions.

In that same week, our Food Bank staff responded by coordinating with Pacific Coast Foods to receive a weekly delivery of roughly four pallets that included boxes of fresh produce and dairy items. Produce ranged from strawberries to kale, celery, and cauliflower. The dairy boxes contained milk, cheese, and yogurt. We are grateful we can meet the diverse nutritional needs with help from our partners for our neighbors.

Brenda’s Story

A Latina single mother named Brenda* with four children called El Centro de la Raza seeking rental assistance. Brenda and two of her children contracted COVID-19. The entire family was quarantined in their home, so Brenda was no longer working and could not pay rent since February.

In May, our staff assisted Brenda by providing rental assistance for that month, but Brenda had three months of back rent to pay. Our team advocated for Brenda by talking to the apartment manager about writing off some of Brenda’s debt. Fortunately, the apartment manager was willing to write off all three months of her debt. We provided Brenda with further assistance for June rent.

Because of your generous support of the Emergency Response Fund, Brenda was thrilled and grateful for the rental assistance and advocacy. She no longer owes over $5,000 in back rent. Brenda hopes to start working again soon, stating she and her family should be okay after her employer is cleared to re-open its doors.

High Demand for ESL Classes

Now through August 18, El Centro de la Raza is providing online level 1/2 ESL classes for registered students living in Washington State. Participants learn skills related to introductions and greetings; making small talk about weather, sports, and habits; telling time; talking about money, numbers, and dates; describing activities and emotions, and asking and answering simple questions. The instructor also tailors each lesson by incorporating students’ goals into the curriculum.

Nearly 100 people have emailed us regarding their interest in attending ESL classes for Spanish speakers, including out-of-state people living in Texas and Arizona.

At this time, 14 students are enrolled in ESL classes where four Spanish-speaking volunteers assist them with practicing, translating, and explaining the material. Students are learning remotely from the greater Seattle area, Anacortes, Buckley, and Yakima. Classes are held online every Tuesday and Thursday evening from 5 PM to 7:20 PM. Enrollment is for current students and on a rolling basis. To learn more information or to register, please contact Camila via email at facilities@elcentrodelaraza.org or by phone at 206-329-9442.

Feeding Youth Participants Knowledge and Meals during Summer

From now through August 6, El Centro de la Raza is providing lunch meals and snacks to our After School program participants, made possible by the City of Seattle. We will follow sanitation and social distancing practices while serving food to the currently enrolled participants.

Our After School program operates three classes daily scheduled on a rotating basis that focus on academics and cultural enrichment during the summer. On Mondays and Wednesdays, we have reading and writing; and, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, math and science. Every day, youth participate in the cultural enrichment component.

All After School participants are assigned to a cohort either UW Huskies or WSU Cougars. Participants earn points individually, which are then calculated and applied to the respective team’s totals. Each week, the winning team takes home the virtual spirit staff. By incorporating school spirit into our After School curriculum, we hope to instill confidence in our youth participants that attending college or post-secondary school is attainable.

Abdul*, a rising 6th grader, “I love everything about summer program! It’s my favorite part of the day, especially since we can sleep in. I am part of the Cougars team and getting points is my favorite activity!”

Ana*, a rising 7th grader, said, “My favorite activity has been drawing our own Mayan calendars. I have always seen them but never knew that they have meaning. I hung the one I drew on my Mom’s fridge, and I got to show her what each thing means.”

Roberto*, a rising 8th grader said, “I look forward to the start and end of each day in the program. That’s when we do circle activities, and those make the program so fun. I was mad my Mom signed me up, but I’m having a lot of fun here.”

*Individual’s name was changed to protect their identity.

The Invisible Americans: Census Outreach to Hard-To-Count Communities

Every ten years, the Census puts in extra effort to reach “hard to count” (HTC) communities. These populations face various barriers when it comes to filling out the Census. The population groups that are historically undercounted include BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color), renters, college students, people with low English proficiency, immigrants, mixed-status households, and low-income households. These communities are identified as HTC because they are:

  • Hard to locate

Families or individuals who are transitory due to experiencing homelessness or housing instability are typically short-term renters, live in isolated rural locations, or are physically challenging to find fall under this category. Indigenous peoples of the United States are the most undercounted population in the Census. One in three live in hard to count rural Census tracts, representing 80% of all tribal lands. To combat the undercount, the Census Bureau has focused on starting the count in Alaska earlier than usual and are working with tribal leaders to form Complete Count Committees.

  • Hard to contact

Census workers may have trouble counting vulnerable populations, even after they are located. The reason for the difficulty in contacting HTC community members could be that they are highly mobile or their residence has physical access barriers, such as gated communities. To count populations experiencing homelessness, the Census Bureau sets aside specific days when enumerators specifically focus on visiting soup kitchens, mobile food vans, shelters, and tent encampments.

  • Hard to persuade

Once accessed, populations may be reluctant to participate. Marginalized communities that intersect with HTC communities have experienced systemic violence that leads to a distrust of government Census efforts, which could lead to nonresponse to the Census. In the 2010 Census, the African-American population was undercounted by more than 800,000 people. Mixed-status immigrant households may also be hesitant to fill out the Census due to fear of deportation. However, the Census Bureau does not share any personally identifiable information with any other agency, including law enforcement. Personal data collected by the Census is protected from disclosure and kept confidential under the law. The Census Bureau also works with trusted community-based organizations to promote the Census and reach these communities.

  • Hard to interview for Census

Once engaged, counting populations can be hindered by the lack of a shared language, low literacy, or lack of access to technology to respond to the questionnaire. To make this Census the most accessible one to date, people can respond by phone, online in 12 languages, or by mail. Also, enumerators can coordinate among themselves to visit households whose language they can speak. Getting an accurate count is a vital step towards the civic empowerment of low income and marginalized communities. Federal agencies rely on Census data to monitor discrimination and implement civil rights laws, such as voting rights and equal employment opportunity. For example, the Federal Voting Rights Act determines where city, county, and state-level political districts need to be drawn to empower historically disenfranchised communities. Communities only receive the protections under the Federal Voting Rights Act if they reach a certain population size threshold identified in the federal law.

We use Census data to determine if communities reach those thresholds. If immigrant communities or other populations are undercounted, they will have less access to the Federal Voting Rights Act and the political districts working to increase their empowerment. For these reasons, it is critical that communities that have been historically disenfranchised in the political process work towards a complete Census count.

¿Quiénes son los estadounidenses invisibles?

Cada diez años, el Censo hace un esfuerzo adicional para tratar de enumerar a las comunidades difíciles para contar o “hard to count” (HTC). Estas poblaciones enfrentan varias barreras a la hora de completar el censo. Los grupos de población que históricamente no se cuentan son las comunidades negras, indígenas y personas de color, inquilinos, estudiantes universitarios, personas con bajo nivel de inglés, inmigrantes, hogares de estatus mixto y hogares de bajos ingresos. Estas comunidades se identifican como HTC porque son:

  • Difícil de localizar

Las familias o personas que son transitorias debido a la falta de vivienda, la inestabilidad de la vivienda, son inquilinos a corto plazo, viven en lugares rurales aislados o tienen dificultades físicas para encontrarlos en esta categoría. Las comunidades indígenas de los Estados Unidos son la población menos contada en el Censo. Uno de cada tres vive en zonas censales rurales difíciles de contar, lo que representa el 80% de todas las tierras tribales. Para combatir el conteo insuficiente, la Oficina del Censo se ha centrado en comenzar el conteo en Alaska antes de lo habitual y trabajar con los líderes tribales para formar Comités de conteo completes.

  • Difícil para contactar

Los trabajadores del censo pueden tener problemas para contar las poblaciones vulnerables después de haber sido ubicadas. La razón de la dificultad para contactar a los miembros de la comunidad de HTC podría ser que son altamente móviles o que su residencia tiene barreras de acceso físico, como las comunidades cerradas. Para contar las poblaciones que viven en la calle, la Oficina del Censo reserva días específicos en los que los enumeradores se centran específicamente en visitar comedores populares, camionetas móviles, refugios y campamentos de tiendas de campaña.

  • Difícil para persuadir

Una vez accedidas, las poblaciones pueden ser reacias a participar. Las comunidades marginadas que se cruzan con las comunidades HTC han experimentado violencia sistémica que conduce a una desconfianza de los esfuerzos del Censo o del gobierno, lo que podría conducir a la falta de respuesta al Censo. En el censo de 2010, no se contabilizaron más de 800,000 personas afroamericanas. Los hogares de inmigrantes de estatus mixto también pueden dudar en completar el censo debido al temor a la deportación. Sin embargo, la Oficina del Censo no comparte ninguna información de identificación personal con ninguna otra agencia, incluidas las fuerzas del orden. Los datos personales recopilados por el Censo están protegidos contra la divulgación y se mantienen confidenciales según la ley. La Oficina del Censo también trabaja con organizaciones comunitarias confiables para promover el Censo y llegar a estas comunidades.

  • Difícil de entrevistar o censar.

 Una vez comprometidos, el conteo de poblaciones puede verse obstaculizado por la falta de un idioma compartido, baja alfabetización o falta de acceso a la tecnología para responder al cuestionario. Para que este censo sea el más accesible hasta la fecha, las personas pueden responder por teléfono, en línea en 12 idiomas o por correo. Además, los enumeradores pueden coordinar entre ellos para visitar hogares cuyo idioma pueden hablar. Obtener un conteo exacto es un paso vital hacia el empoderamiento cívico de las comunidades marginadas y de bajos ingresos que se encuentran bajo el paraguas de las comunidades HTC. Las agencias federales confían en los datos del Censo para monitorear la discriminación e implementar leyes de derechos civiles, como los derechos de voto y la igualdad de oportunidades de empleo. Por ejemplo, la Ley Federal de Derechos de Votación determina dónde los distritos políticos de la ciudad, el condado y los distritos políticos a nivel estatal, deben ser diseñados para empoderar a las comunidades históricamente privadas de sus derechos. Las comunidades solo reciben las protecciones de la Ley Federal de Derechos de Votación si alcanzan ciertos umbrales de población o tamaño que se identifican en la ley federal.

Utilizamos los datos del censo para determinar si las comunidades alcanzan esos umbrales. Eso significa un conteo insuficiente del censo que excluye a las comunidades de inmigrantes u otras poblaciones, tienen menos acceso a la Ley Federal de Derechos de Votación y a los distritos políticos que trabajan para su empoderamiento político. Por estas razones, es vital que las comunidades que han sido históricamente privadas de sus derechos en el proceso político trabajen hacia un conteo completo del Censo.

Jessica and Javier’s Stories

In May, our Benefits Enrollment Navigators provided $14,000 in rental assistance and $2,000 in grocery gift cards. We also shared community resources to assist families with rent and utilities. Many participants were not eligible to receive unemployment benefits, so our Navigators contacted them weekly to help them fill out their claims. We helped participants claim benefits totaling between $30,000 and $40,000. This work was made possible by our generous funders. Click to read about Jessica and Javier’s stories.

Many participants struggled to receive their unemployment benefits, two of whom are Jessica and Javier (names are withheld). Some barriers they experienced included not meeting the hour requirement to qualify for benefits, having to provide proof of their identities, or missing responses on their applications.

Our Navigators assisted both Jessica and Javier in their preferred languages. We explained their unique situation and walked them through their separate applications. Within two weeks, their applications were processed successfully. One received about $4,000 and the other individual received $5,000 in back pay of unemployment benefits. They were both very appreciative of the help and support that was provided. They were relieved and had peace of mind that they had enough to pay their rent and bills.