12-05-2016  9:51 pm      •     
Black Lives Matter

Neighborhood Matching Fund Hosts Free Workshops for Community Groups

The Neighborhood Matching Fund (NMF), a program of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, is hosting workshops for community groups interested in learning about the city’s popular Small and Simple Projects Fund. The Small and Simple Projects Fund provides matching awards of up to $25,000 to neighborhood groups for community-building projects.

Each workshop provides an overview of the Neighborhood Matching Fund, the qualities of a good project, and the application process and requirements. To RSVP, call (206) 233-0093 or go online at surveymonkey.com/r/ZHM36BJ.

The workshop dates are:

  • Thursday, August 20; 6 – 8 p.m. at Miller Community Center (Multipurpose Room), 330 19th Ave E
  • Wednesday, September 2; 6 – 8 p.m. at University Heights Community Center (Room 209), 5031 University Way NE

To learn about the Fund, visit seattle.gov/neighborhoods/neighborhood-matching-fund/small-and-simple-projects-fund. The deadline for applications is 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 5, but be sure to register now to apply. This is the last opportunity to apply to the Small and Simple Projects Fund this year.

The Neighborhood Matching Fund (NMF) Program awards matching funds for projects initiated, planned, and implemented by community members. Its goal is to build stronger and healthier neighborhoods through community involvement and engagement. Every award is matched by a neighborhood’s contribution of volunteer labor, donated materials, in-kind professional services, or cash.

 

Mayor announces new actions to expand enrollment in Utility Discount Program

Utility bills will be cut in half for thousands more low-income Seattle families under a new plan to simplify enrollment in the City’s Utility Discount Program (UDP) for those who live in subsidized housing or receive nutrition assistance. The average discount for UDP-enrolled customers is more than $800 a year.

Under a new partnership with the Washington State Housing Finance Commission (WSHFC), any individual or family who lives in a subsidized apartment with income requirements that also meet UDP income eligibility will be automatically enrolled in the utility discount. Residents will be informed on Sept. 1.

The new partnership is an agreement will share the addresses of units that fall into the UDP eligibility range so the occupants can be auto enrolled. Residents’ names or other personal information will not be shared. The income of these renters is already verified annually.

Up to 5,000 utility customers may benefit from this change. Units that include a federal utility credit would not be eligible.

To ease the application process for other customers, those already enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will no longer be required to provide income verification. Beginning Sept. 1, City staff will now have the ability to verify the customer’s income through SNAP’s Washington Connection database. An estimated 8,500 SNAP recipients in Seattle are eligible to apply for utility discounts through this simplified approach.

The income limit for SNAP is at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, which falls within UDP income requirements. The City will conduct random audits of up to 10 percent of enrollees to ensure continued income eligibility.

For lower-income customers who qualify, Seattle’s Utility Discount Program offers 50 percent off public utilities bills and 60 percent off city light bills. Nearly 18,000 customers are currently enrolled (an increase of nearly 4,000 since January 2014), but many more are eligible and have not signed up. Murray has set a goal of 28,000 customers enrolled in UDP by the end of 2018.

The income limits for the utility discounts is 70 percent of state median income: $31,000 a year for an individual and $60,000 for a family of four.

Additional details and information on how to enroll for the Utility Discount Program are available at http://www.seattle.gov/humanservices/benefits/udp.htm.

 

Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute and Seattle Parks and Recreation Present ‘Snow White and the Seven’

The Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute (LHPAI) and Seattle Parks and Recreation presents the Teen Summer Musical extravaganza, Snow White and the Seven: Each One, Teach One, featuring 80 youth ranging from seven to 18 years old, Aug. 20 through 23 at the Seattle Repertory Theatre. Tickets are $8 for youth (12 and under) and $10 for adults.

Set in both America and Africa and inspired by the fairy tale of Snow White, Snow White and the Seven: “Each One, Teach One,” follows the heartfelt desire of an African-American girl determined to make a connection with her traditional heritage. Her journey takes many turns both wonderful and worrisome as she discovers the beauty of herself and her African homeland. The show will have seven performances (Aug. 20-22: shows daily at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Aug. 23: one show at 3 p.m.). All performances are at the Seattle Repertory Theatre and tickets are available online at brownpapertickets.com. Prior to the show opening, the cast will perform excerpts from the musical at the Rainier Valley Culture Fest Weekend in Columbia City on August 15.

Snow White and the Seven: “Each One, Teach One” has been rehearsed onsite at LHPAI and is an original play written and directed by Isiah Anderson, Jr., of Seattle Parks and Recreation. The original music was written by renowned Seattle singer/songwriter Michelle Lang who engages creative materials from her R&B, Hip Hop, Jazz, and Gospel roots, with traditional African genres. Professional dancer/choreographer Tyrone Crosby brings an innovative blend of dance styles to the show’s choreography.

 

City to Sell Parcel to Affordable Housing Developer

This week the Seattle City Council approved Mayor Ed Murray’s legislation to sell a smaller City-owned parcel to allow the construction of affordable housing by a private developer. The proceeds of the sale will be used to build even more affordable housing elsewhere in Seattle.

The City of Seattle owns a 7,200-square-foot parcel at 6th and Yesler. Stream Real Estate intends to build a 140-unit apartment building on the property and adjacent parcels. For the next 50 years, all units in the new building must be affordable to households earning less than 80 percent of area median income.

The sale price for the City-owned parcel is approximately $1.4 million – fair market value. That revenue will be used by the City’s Office of Housing to support additional affordable housing development.

 

New Tool Created to Track Enforcement of Worker Protection Laws

This week Mayor Ed Murray, along with the City Council and the newly-created Office of Labor Standards (OLS), unveiled a website that allows the public to track enforcement of Seattle’s minimum wage, paid sick and safe leave, wage theft, and job assistance ordinance. The dashboard compiles data collected by OLS and presents the information in a digestible format.

“The public needs to be able to see how the new Office of Labor Standards is working effectively to ensure workers are paid and treated fairly under Seattle’s strong labor laws,” Mayor Murray said. “This new tool allows employers and workers to access readily-available data to show the progress we’re making with enforcing our labor standards and historic minimum wage increase, and where we still need to improve.”

Councilmember Nick Licata said, “This dashboard helps bring to light that employees are being denied wages in Seattle. I’m heartened to know that workers have access to these statistics and that there’s a City agency dedicated to investigating and remedying the situation.”

As of June 2015, the dashboard shows that City has responded to over 3,500 employer and 800 employee questions about Seattle’s labor standards. Since the beginning of the year, OLS has opened 72 new investigations and closed 47 cases.

OLS encourages questions about the dashboard and Seattle’s labor standards, including reports of violations, by email (laborstandards@seattle.gov), phone (206-684-4500) and walk-in appointments at the downtown office (810 Third Avenue, Suite 750 Seattle, WA 98104). Information about Seattle’s labor standards can be found at www.seattle.gov/laborstandards.

 

Bellevue Asks Residents and Businesses to Reduce Water Use

The City of Bellevue is asking residents and businesses to voluntarily reduce their water use by 10 percent, in partnership with the city’s own conservation efforts. This comes as the city has activated its water shortage response – the result of a historically low snowpack, followed by a historically hot, dry summer, and higher than average water use. If the water supply conditions do not improve, mandatory reductions may be introduced.

Bellevue’s water shortage response went into effect July 27 when it joined its water provider, Cascade Water Alliance, as part of a larger regional response by Seattle Public Utilities, Tacoma Water and the City of Everett. The response plan has four stages: advisory, voluntary, mandatory, and emergency curtailment. Currently, Bellevue, which gets its water from the Seattle system, is in the voluntary stage.

The City is relying on the support and cooperation of all water users to conserve the available water supply. Demand needs to be reduced by 10 percent. Customers are responsible for determining how they will meet this goal. Water waste is not allowed. If everyone cooperates, we may avoid imposing more stringent restrictions at a later date. In addition to meeting the essential water needs of customers, meeting the needs of fish and other environmental concerns is a priority.

Ways to save water:

  • Cut back unnecessary watering – consider letting your lawn go dormant.
  • Water plants deeply, but infrequently, early in the day or late at night. Mulching planting beds also helps with reducing watering.
  • Visit the Waterwise Garden at the Bellevue Botanical Gardens, where residents can learn how they can save water in their own gardens.
  • Wash only full loads of laundry in washing machines or dishes in dishwashers.
  • Turn the water off. Avoid letting the faucet run when shaving, brushing teeth, and washing.
  • Take shorter showers – even cutting your shower by 2-3 minutes adds up.
  • Wash your car infrequently, and when you do take it to a commercial wash where the water is recycled.
  • Fix leaks.
  • Order and install free water-saving items, including low-flow shower heads and leak detection kits, from Bellevue’s water provider – Cascade Water Alliance.

More water conservation tips can also be found on the City of Bellevue website: http://www.bellevuewa.gov/water_conservation.htm.

The City of Bellevue is also taking steps to reduce its own water use. These include the following:

Bellevue Parks is cutting back on irrigation by 25 percent. Other examples of water-saving measures include:

  • Newer computer-controlled irrigation systems have leak detection, and adjust water use based on current weather and soil conditions.
  • New plantings along roadways are being delayed until fall rains come.

Bellevue Utilities will limit routine maintenance activities that use water until October or November when fall rains are likely to return. This includes flushing of water mains to remove accumulated sediment and minerals. Utilities continuously monitors the water supply to ensure its safety.

Other actions to be taken at city facilities, include:

  • Being vigilant in reporting and repairing leaks.
  • Conducting irrigation assessments for building landscaping and preventing overwatering
  • Asking employees to pledge to conserve water at work and home
  • Reducing the flush volume of toilets at City Hall from 1.6 gallons per flush to 1.5.
  • Reducing water use in decorative water features at City Hall
  • Delaying any major maintenance that requires flushing and filling of equipment until advisory is over
  • Reducing fleet vehicle washing.

 

Find more Seattle and Portland area events on our Community Calendar.

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