On Saturday, October 7th, the Resident Action Project held its first Statewide Summit for Homes. More than eighty people packed the Southside Commons and filled the space with conversations about the primary solutions that RAP should fight for to address the housing and homelessness crisis.
At the beginning of the meeting, we welcomed everyone into the space. We introduced folks to RAP and told the story of how we arrived at the Summit. We did an initial presentation about the information that we collected in the listening sessions and provided people with handouts to look at the data for themselves. Then, we turned to the group to find the solution.
Inspired by the World Café, RAP leaders on the Statewide Steering Committee and others who attended the cross train facilitated small group conversations based on each of the problem areas that we identified. The goal of each of the small group conversations was for the participants to consider the listening session data for that theme area and begin to brainstorm solutions that the group would then vote on at the end of the day. We had three rounds of fifteen minute conversations, and we asked people to rotate to a different theme each time.
Following our World Café conversations, participants had the opportunity to hear from Representative Nicole Macri and Michele Thomas, policy staff from the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, about the political landscape in Olympia.
After lunch, we gave each of the table facilitators the opportunity to report out on the solutions identified at their tables. From there, we asked the group to vote on the issues that they want to recommend to the Statewide Steering Committee to prioritize in the 2018 legislative session. Each of the participants was given three dots that they could disperse however they liked.
The issues that rose to the top were:
- build more low-income and affordable housing
- change the law that makes urinating in public a sex offense
- ban statewide source of income discrimination
- develop a legal department that handles all housing discrimination issues
- do away with statewide ban on rent control
- establish a “homeless court” based on a model for other states that offers alternatives to fines, jail, and to people to services
Even though it was a long, action-packed day, there was a lot of energy in the room as we closed. Several people lingered – appreciating each other’s company and the work that we’d done together.