I've been a Seattle resident since 2009. I love it here! I met my wife in the University District, had my daughter at Swedish First Hill, owned a condo in Queen Anne in 2012 and bought a home in Wedgwood in 2015. I've built a successful business around the ever-thriving Seattle housing market and I even have a podcast about Seattle where I interview local leaders doing amazing things here. I owe so much to this city. This place and its people have shaped me into who I am today.
As a resident, there are many things I want for the city. I want clean air, good schools, clean streets, good jobs for all incomes and a healthy place for everyone to enjoy. What drew me to the city was its innovation, opportunity, location and natural beauty unlike any other city I've seen. But the reason I stayed was the progressive ideals of its people. To see a community practicing what it preached on sustainability, caring for the poor and socially conscious business practices inspired me to plant roots here for good.
But with recent explosive city growth it seems we're at risk of shifting away from an "innovative care for the poor" to a more "protect what we have" mentality. With so much discussion around the Seattle Head Tax Bill, I thought I'd weigh in. I'm not an expert but I am a concerned business owner in Seattle who wants to see the city stay a place for all levels of income.
McKinsey & Company, a global consulting firm, recently produced an independent analysis of King County’s homelessness crisis for the Seattle Chamber of Commerce. They found that since 2014, homelessness in Seattle has risen 9.2%, while at the same time the fair-market rent has paralleled this rise by an average of 12.3%. As more people have moved to the city, demand rises, supply decreases and cost of living skyrockets, contributing to the rising population of people living on the streets. While we can't hold large thriving Seattle companies fully responsible for the homeless crisis, it's fair to say they play a contributing factor by bringing more high income earners to Seattle and raising the cost of living.
McKinsey also discovered public and private sectors of King County would need to spend upwards of $410 million on homeless relief initiatives in order to get the estimated 11,600+ homeless men, women and children off the streets. It would be a challenge for one person or company to take on this cost but if we all participate in whatever way we can, we have an opportunity to make a difference and see real change.
Homelessness is an extremely complex problem. We can't just use large companies as scape goats in order to avoid participating ourselves. Those of us who've played a role in Seattle's growth and therefore increasing Seattle's homelessness, should participate in the solution. I have personally participated in helping Microsoft, Amazon, Google and Starbucks transplants buy and sell expensive homes right here in Seattle. I also believe the recently proposed Head Tax Bill should be embraced. The reality is, all of us need to do our part to ensure Seattle is a safe and welcoming place for all. Below is my small attempt to contribute.
One of my favorite entrepreneurs is Yvon Chouinard. He started Patagonia and Black Diamond, and is well known for using his business to advocate for policy to protect the earth's environment and fight climate change. Chouinard once said,
"Making a profit is not the goal.
Profits happen when you do everything else right."
For the remainder of 2018, I'm committing to donate 5% of my net proceeds from every home that I sell specifically to Seattle homeless relief. Our team will be partnering with Samaritan, a local nonprofit successfully using app technology, local nonprofits and city goers just like you to help get people off the streets and into housing and jobs.
For the next month, I will also be matching donations given to Samaritan through their app. You can participate with me by doing these three things.
Download the Samaritan app here
Give a few dollars to a Beacon Holder in the app
I'll match your gift
Whether you're a lifelong native or just moved here yesterday, you are a beautiful part of the city! Thank you for participating in making it even better for future generations to come.
BONUS: Listen to the Rise Seattle Podcast where we interviewed Samaritan Founder, Jonathan Kumar.