The Washington State Legislature begins the 2021 session, its first-ever primarily virtual legislative session, on January 11. Since very few representatives will be meeting in-person in Olympia, it's extra important that we send as many messages of support for the policies YWCA is fighting for this year.
We need your help as advocates to pass these bills to make our society fairer and more inclusive! Click the name of any bill you'd like to support to take action by sending a quick message to the lawmakers that represent you.
Getting and keeping our neighbors housed is a core pillar of YWCA's mission and is more critical than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic. To build stability and prevent homelessness for families in 2021, we're supporting:
Everyone deserves the right to a fair process when it comes to life-altering experiences like an eviction. Unfortunately, Washington law currently lets landlords evict renters without any cause at all through what is known as a "no cause termination." This gives landlords a legal loophole to discriminate and retaliate against tenants who assert their rights, such as requesting a repair.
YWCA is fighting to pass statewide legislation that would require landlords to have a legitimate business reason to evict a tenant. Because we know evictions disproportionately affect Black women with children, we must challenge our laws that uphold racist structures.
The best way to ensure that children can succeed in school, women can protect themselves from abusers, and communities can maintain stability is to make sure that every woman has a livable income. To make certain that all Washingtonians can support their families and thrive, we’re fighting for:
Giving women certainty and stability in their work schedules is critical to helping them thrive. This is especially important for retail and restaurant workers, who are largely Black women and women of color, and are frequently denied the right to fair hours that let them plan childcare and make rent. This has only become more necessary during the COVID-19 pandemic, as these women are also faced with hazardous work conditions. We interviewed a young Black woman in Seattle who had her life positively transformed when she got secure schedules.
People who make more should pay their fair share in taxes. But for millions of women in Washington State that isn't the case, thanks to Washington’s upside-down tax code. Right now, low-income households in Washington are taxed at 18% of their income while the rich pay only 3%. The Washington Recovery Rebate would return $500 a year to those who qualify for the federal Earned Income Tax Credit, to help working people keep more of what they earn. It adds more money for each child in the household, and has amplified positive economic and health impacts for BIPOC women who are disproportionately hurt by our current system.
Justice System Reform
Our legal system shouldn’t treat people differently based on their wealth, but Washington State still has statutes that penalize residents living in poverty while giving breaks to the rich. To build a fairer system that doesn’t discriminate, YWCA is supporting three bills:
Ending the criminalization of poverty, such as when people have their driver’s license taken away because they can’t afford a fine, is hugely important to YWCA’s mission of eliminating racism. Treating poor defendants differently than rich ones is a key way that our justice system traps Black women and communities of color into cycles of poverty and mass incarceration. Housing super-advocate and former YWCA program participant Mindy Woods shared her story of experiencing this discrimination first-hand.
Equal representation is the foundation of our democracy, and it functions best when all voices are included. We're fighting to restore the right to vote to the 10,000 Washingtonians under community supervision who are currently denied that right. This would bolster the shared value of Washingtonians to expand, not restrict, access to the ballot box in our state. You can learn more about the impacts of this bill from two YWCA program participants, Tami and Dante, who are helping other people get their right to vote back.
Sentencing reform is an important first step to undoing the injustices of mandatory minimum sentences, which have locked up generations of young Black men for victimless crimes like selling cannabis, which is now a legal industry dominated largely by white men. Beginning to right this institutional wrong by creating a Post-Conviction Review Board can unlock great potential for young people currently forced into the prison pipeline.
Join The Fight!
Want to join YWCA to fight for housing, economic fairness, and justice reform in Washington State? Scroll through the feed below to take action on the issues that matter to you!
Eric Bronson is the Digital Advocacy and Engagement Manager at YWCA. He manages the Firesteel blog in addition to its social media streams and action initiatives. A graduate of Oberlin College, Eric focuses on the intersection of race and gender within the American political economy.
We tell the stories of those with lived experiences of racism and sexism and invite supporters to take concrete actions to correct the root causes of disparity in our communities.