Bellwether Complaint Update

Sue Selman at Bellwether has now replied to my email “thanking” me for proving that I did make disability accommodation requests for heat mitigation in my apartment two years ago. Of course, she offers no explanation for why the building manager–who she always tries to pawn me off on first–never gave me the necessary paperwork in 2012 or 2013. Nor does she answer why a necessary accommodation for disabilities should be conditioned on ability to pay (so ironic that Bellwether’s slogan is “afford more than rent”). Nor does she suggest how I might afford hundreds of dollars for operable windows on ZERO income. Or answer why I should foot the entire bill for permanent improvements to my “affordable” apartment ($835/month for 500 square feet–up 10% in two years) which will permanently increase its value and thus let Bellwether charge higher rent on it in perpetuity. Rational thought doesn’t matter. Fairness doesn’t matter. Money and power matter. They have it; I don’t.

Lisa Herbold, the wonderful housing guru in Councilman Nick Licata‘s office (he chairs the Housing Committee), told me that despite many heat-related deaths in hot homes, and more frequent and intense heat due to climate change, there’s no law in “liberal” Seattle requiring landlords to limit the maximum temperature of apartments in summer the way they have to maintain a minimum temperature in winter for the apartment to be considered habitable. Of course, I pretty much already knew that; I want such a requirement added. Especially moving here from Washington, DC, I was SHOCKED at how weak tenant rights are in WA. They’re pretty much non-existent. And even in tenant-majority Seattle, they’re just minimally better. There’s no right of first refusal or meaningful repair and deduct option, for example. And no inclusionary zoning, and a laughably tiny Housing Levy. As always, Seattle talks and thinks far more liberal/progressive than it is; our city government is owned and controlled by big business. We need public financing ASAP. Public officials need to be owned by the people, not the wealthy. It barely failed on the ballot last fall, and right-wing police apologist Tim Burgess (Council President) broke precedent by blocking Mike O’Brien’s public financing proposal from even getting a vote at City Council. Because democracy!

Since my formal complaint to the Office of Civil Rights wasn’t going through on their website for 21 hours, I called to see if their website was having trouble. The woman who answered the phone misdirected me to ignore the fact that their webform isn’t working, and instead told me I filled out the wrong form. Mind you, I merely went to their website and tried my best to follow the links to the correct form for my complaint, but this is typical bureaucracy. She took my info by phone and said someone would call me back in 1-2 days. I reminded her that, even if the Title VI webform isn’t for housing complaints, someone still needs to use it, so they need to get it fixed. Think that will happen?

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