Mayor Murray launches Summer of Opportunity and Safety


Today, Mayor Ed Murray launched the Summer of Opportunity and Safety, a City-led effort to expand summer programming for youth through grant-funded programs, Seattle Parks Department activities and youth jobs. These programs help connect youth to opportunities across the city, focusing attention on positive activity that itself is a strong violence prevention measure. A key piece of this effort is the Youth Opportunity Fund, a $145,000 fund to support community agencies and groups which provide positive youth development activities. Additionally, the City is unveiling a new portal,, where those looking for summer activities can find places to apply or drop-in programs throughout the summer.

“Our young people are the future of our city and we must invest in their growth and safety year-round,” said Mayor Murray. “Programs focused on engaging and supporting youth can propel them to future opportunities, including jobs. This summer, we are doubling down on that commitment to our youth by helping them access a positive environment that will help them thrive, which is the best way to prevent youth violence.”

Community organizations and businesses are encouraged to apply for a summer opportunity grant, with awards ranging from $5,000 to $15,000. The application deadline is Tuesday, June 20 at 5 p.m. Visit the Youth Opportunity Fund website for details. A list of programs funded in 2016 can be found here.

This fund is part of the Mayor’s Youth Opportunity Initiative which is focused on ensuring that all youth in Seattle have access to the opportunities and resources needed to allow them to thrive and successfully become an adult. Mayor Murray also created the Youth Opportunity Cabinet to better coordinate youth programming across City departments as part of his commitment to improving education, employment, safety, health and positive connections for Seattle youth, particularly youth of color.

The new Mayor’s Youth Opportunity Initiative website provides links to enriching summer programs across City Departments that are available during the summer. These efforts include but are not limited to:

The City has added 200 new summer learning slots to increase access to summer learning opportunities for at-risk youth. These positions help close the achievement gap and help more Seattle youth graduate from Seattle Public School on-time and attain post-secondary credentials.

Youth Employment:
Expanding access to summer employment for youth by placing 3,500 jobs through the Mayor’s Youth Opportunity Initiative. This initiative focuses on getting more Seattle youth engaged in meaningful employment opportunities to prepare them for academic success and career development.

Community Safety:
Nearly doubling the City’s Youth Opportunity Fund to $145,000 to support community organizations and groups that work to ensure Seattle youth are safe and free of negative involvement in the criminal justice system.

Positive Connections:
Launching a mentoring pilot this summer using $300,000 in new funding authorized by Mayor Murray to close mentoring gaps. Through the mentoring pilot, the City will recruit more Black adult men to serve as mentors for young Black men.

Health and Recreation:
Providing expanded health and recreation programs for low-income youth of color including a new partnership with Seattle Sounders FC’s RAVE Foundation to provide free soccer camps for underserved communities.

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Mayor Murray launches age-friendly initiatives

Today, Mayor Ed Murray announced a series of age-friendly initiatives for the City of Seattle to address environmental, economic, and social factors influencing the health and well-being of older adults. As part of the age-friendly initiatives and resolution signed today, the first quarter supplemental budget includes $200,000 of additional funding for 2017 to fund organizations that are developing innovative new programs for seniors, nonprofits that provide transportation options for seniors and to fund a technology symposium to create user-friendly online resources for seniors.

“While the Trump administration is actively working to dismantle America’s safety net, including health care and food assistance which protect many of the most vulnerable people in our community, including seniors, Seattle will remain committed to addressing the economic, physical and social challenges facing older adults,” said Mayor Murray. “From urban planning, growth and development to housing, transportation and services, these aspects of our community will be shaped for and by our older residents.”

The goal of these new initiatives is to increase social participation, racial equity and awareness of issues older adults face daily, while decreasing displacement. As the population of older adults in Seattle increases, the City is developing goals and indicators around departmental initiatives that consider aging adults. In addition to the new funding outlined above, Mayor Murray outlined several specific early action items for 2017 including:

  • Signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the King County Department of Assessments to increase enrollments in the City’s Utility Discount Program and the state’s Property Tax Exemption/Referral Program to help older adults to stay in their homes. The goal is to double the number of seniors enrolled in both programs;
  • Leveraging Seattle’s civic technology community to help the City better meet the needs of the aging population. This includes coordination of a technology symposium and design workshops to create user-friendly online resources for seniors based on best practices and innovative solutions from other cities;
  • In a partnership with King County Metro, increasing usage of the ORCA LIFT a reduced fare program by older adults by streamlining the application process;
  • Improving the pedestrian environment by assessing sidewalks with the involvement of seniors, implementing walkability audits, promoting transportation options for older adults, and incorporating age-friendly criteria into the Pedestrian Master Plan for 2018-2022;
  • Involving seniors in the development and engagement process for new capital investments and increasing participation in senior-focused recreation and healthy food programs offered through the City of Seattle Human Services Department, Department of Parks and Recreation, and Office of Sustainability and Environment;
  • Improving housing affordability by developing a regional housing action plan to assess senior housing needs, identifying low-income seniors to participate in the Utility Discount Program and the senior property tax exemption program; increasing access to weatherization services, home repair, and foreclosure prevention programs; and evaluating feasibility of senior home-sharing options.

“As the real estate market continues to boom we see more and more seniors facing financial difficulty,” said King County Assessor John Wilson. “I am thrilled to partner with Mayor Murray and the City of Seattle to offer relief to those who need it the most. We will work together to ensure Seattle is a place we can all afford to call home.”

In addition to early actions, Mayor Murray is committing to two community equity forums—one focused on the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender elders; the other on the needs of older women. Also, the City is looking to provide older adults with better access to human services and City resources, based on best practices, new technologies and innovative solutions from other cities.

“I’m pleased to see our City so fully embrace this Age-Friendly concept, making this a city for all ages and abilities,” said Sally Bagshaw, Seattle City Councilmember. “Personally, I want to see giant steps forward in improving our sidewalks across the city. When we maintain our sidewalks, connecting them block-to-block and implementing safe crosswalks, we make a pedestrian-friendly network. The improved pedestrian environment encourages people of all ages to walk, and as we all know, a little fresh air does us good.

“A sidewalk free of bulges and holes appeals to everyone in the neighborhood, including the mom pushing her stroller, a child riding a scooter to school, and those who may find walking a challenge. Investing in safe walking routes for all of us should be a top priority for our Age-Friendly city.”

“It is important to me and to our City that we take care of our elders,” said Catherine Lester, Director of the City’s Human Services Department. “This requires us to create opportunities for social participation, to promote health and wellness, and to make sure our physical environment is accessible. These are the types of things that allow Seattle to continue to be a place where people of all ages and stages of life can thrive. Our elders, as well as all people in our community, must feel valued and be able to participate fully as part of this community.”

The Human Services Department will also design an innovation fund to identify and award funding for unique and creative projects that meet community needs. The first year will include a focus on ways to creatively move towards an age-friendly community with a specific focus on results and racial equity.

The City will consider suggestions for age-friendly improvements in the 2018 budget and will report on the progress of the initial three-year plan to the Human Services and Public Health Committee, or other appropriate City Council committees, through 2021.

Currently, 18 percent of King County’s residents are 60 years and older. By 2040, that number is expected to grow to be one in four adults (25 percent). Currently, 63 percent of King County renters age 65 and older spend more than 30 percent of their annual income on housing. Racial disparities persist in these findings. Nearly two-thirds of older Black/African Americans (60 percent) spend 30 percent or more of their income on housing, as do more than half (56 percent) of older Latino seniors. This compares to 47 percent of White older adults.

In July 2016, Seattle joined the AARP Network of Age-Friendly Communities, an affiliate of the World Health Organization’s Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities. This initiative outlines “The 8 Domains of Livability” which include:

  • Outdoor Spaces and Buildings
  • Transportation
  • Housing
  • Social Participation
  • Respect and Social Inclusion
  • Civic Participation and Employment
  • Communication and Information
  • Community and Health Services

 The AARP/WHO framework looks for improvements in these specific areas that influence the health and quality of life for our city’s older residents. This initiative aims to help the region support the positive contributions of older adults and enable people of all ages and abilities to achieve their potential.

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Mayor Murray, in partnership with 100 Resilient Cities, appoints Jessica Finn Coven as Seattle’s first Chief Resilience Officer

Today, Mayor Ed Murray appointed Jessica Finn Coven as Chief Resilience Officer (CRO), a new position created to lead citywide resilience building efforts to help Seattle prepare for, withstand, and bounce back from “shocks” – catastrophic events like heat waves and floods – and “stresses” – longer term pressures like climate change, income inequality, and impacts from Seattle’s unprecedented growth. Finn Coven currently serves as director of Seattle’s Office of Sustainability & Environment and will remain in that role while taking on these additional responsibilities. Seattle was selected to be a founding member of the 100 Resilient Cities –  Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation, which will provide a grant to support and fund the position.

“I am proud to announce Jessica Finn Coven as Chief Resilience Officer for the City of Seattle,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “Jessica’s experience and expertise in the complex issues of climate change, affordable housing, and inequity will be leveraged in this new role as she helps drive the City’s strategy to increase resilience, grow equitably and reduce disproportionate impacts on communities of color.”

As CRO, Finn Coven will report directly to Mayor Murray and oversee the development and implementation of a comprehensive Resilience Strategy for Seattle.

Appointing a CRO is an essential element of Seattle’s resilience building partnership with 100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation. The 100 Resilient Cities (100RC) organization is part of a $164 million commitment by The Rockefeller Foundation to build urban resilience in 100 cities around the world. Seattle’s engagement with 100RC kicked off in October 2016 with a “Resilience Agenda-Setting Workshop,” and under Finn Coven’s leadership, the City is poised to take the next step in its resilience planning. 100RC will support the salary of the CRO as well as fully fund a Deputy CRO position to work with Finn Coven on the Resilience Strategy.

The CRO is an innovative feature of 100RC’s resilience building program, specifically designed to break down existing barriers at the local level, account for pre-existing resilience plans, and create partnerships, alliances and financing mechanisms that will improve resilience of all residents, with a focus on low-income and vulnerable populations.

“Jessica Finn Coven joins a network of peers from cities across the globe that will share best practices and surface innovative thinking,” said Michael Berkowitz, President of 100 Resilient Cities. “She will become a global leader in resilience, and will be an asset for Seattle and other cities around the world.”

Seattle’s resilience initiative will focus on a unique combination of seismic risks, climate change, and the social and economic inequities that are exacerbated by Seattle’s rapid growth. Seattle needs to ensure that as we grow, we are doing so in a way that creates healthy communities with access to green space for all, responds to climate change, and tackles the health and environmental disparities present in Seattle. Finn Coven will be charged with fostering a citywide dialogue on solutions, helping Seattle to unite and build the collective capacity for change.

Finn Coven will receive personnel and technical support provided by 100RC and utilize resilience building tools from private, public, academic, and NGO sector organizations that have partnered with 100RC. Seattle’s Resilience Strategy will be a holistic, action-oriented blueprint to build partnerships and alliances, financing mechanisms, and will pay particular attention to meeting the needs of low-income families, communities of color and other vulnerable populations.

About Seattle CRO Jessica Finn Coven
Jessica Finn Coven has been the Director of the City of Seattle’s Office of Sustainability & Environment since June 2015. The Office, in partnership with a wide range of stakeholders, develops innovative environmental solutions that foster equitable, vibrant communities and shared prosperity.

Finn Coven previously served as state director of Climate Solutions, where her work focused on developing legislative and policy strategies to reduce pollution contributing to climate change and grow an equitable clean-energy economy in Washington state. Jessica also worked as program director for the U.S. Climate Action Network. From 2002 to 2005, she was a global warming campaigner for Greenpeace in Washington DC. She also spent several months working in Beijing as a policy advisor for Greenpeace China.

About 100 Resilient Cities—Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation
100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation (100RC) helps cities around the world become more resilient to social, economic, and physical challenges that are a growing part of the 21st Century. 100RC provides this assistance through funding for a CRO in each of our cities who will lead the resilience efforts; resources for drafting a resilience strategy; access to private sector, public sector, academic, and NGO resilience tools; and membership in a global network of peer cities to share best practices and challenges. For more information, visit:

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Mayor Murray designates long-neglected Mt. Baker sites for revitalization

Today, Mayor Ed Murray signed a resolution to designate an area of the Mt. Baker neighborhood a Redevelopment Opportunity Zone (ROZ). The resolution opens the door for a new partnership between the Washington State Department of Ecology, the City of Seattle, and the nonprofit Mt. Baker Housing, creating a welcoming Mt. Baker town center and 150 new affordable homes for low-income families.

“This is a win for the environment, a win for affordable housing, and a win for a more livable Mt. Baker neighborhood,” said Mayor Murray. “We continue to develop new and innovative partnerships to support more affordable homes across Seattle. Today we celebrate a positive step forward to support sustainability and healthy communities.”

Mt. Baker Housing is a community-based nonprofit dedicated to providing affordable homes in Southeast Seattle. Phase one of the Mt. Baker Gateway project is intended to build two new mixed-use buildings with approximately 150 units of affordable housing and 15,000-30,000 square feet of new commercial retail space. In addition, the proposed redevelopment will provide new connections from the residential neighborhoods and parks to the Mt. Baker commercial area and light rail station.

“The Mt. Baker Hub Business District has long waited for a champion to clean up and redevelop this corner,” said Bruce Harrell, City Council President. “I applaud Mt. Baker Housing for rising to the occasion and working collaboratively with the City of Seattle, Department of Ecology, and the community to enliven this soon-to-be prominent gateway. We will work hard to make sure the homes are affordable and this is a place of great diversity and vitality.”

“This affordable housing and environmental remediation project is in keeping with Mt. Baker Housing’s tradition of working on difficult projects,” said Mike Rooney, Executive Director of Mt. Baker Housing. “Throughout our 30-year history we’ve reworked properties that others had given up on and turned them into affordable housing for Rainier Valley residents, new and old. I’m also inspired that our new Gateway project will be adjacent to our original site, property Mt. Baker Village.”

The affordable housing project will be seeking financing to include Low Income Housing Tax Credits, City of Seattle Office of Housing funds, and other sources. The project expects to break ground in 2019 and complete construction in 2020.

“The Rainier Valley is home to the most racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse neighborhoods in Seattle,” said Diane Narasaki, Executive Director of Asian Counseling and Referral Service. “It is also economically diverse, and has for many years been home to low-income people and the workers who make our city run. As Seattle’s population booms, and property values rise, the Rainier Valley’s residents are being pushed out of the neighborhood. The Mt. Baker Gateway Project’s 150 new, affordable workforce units will help the neighborhood retain its beautiful diversity and character, and provide much needed housing and economic development in one of the neighborhoods that most needs it.”

Mt. Baker Housing will be the first non-governmental organization to receive funds under the state’s Brownfield Redevelopment Trust Fund created in 2013. The organization will use the funds to help complete an environmental cleanup of a former gas station and remediation from historic dry cleaning practices.

“This cutting-edge project demonstrates how environmental cleanup grants can transform our communities for the better,” said Ecology Director Maia Bellon.

Mt. Baker Housing reached a significant milestone last December when it entered into a Prospective Purchaser Consent Decree with the Washington State Department of Ecology on the environmental remediation plan. With the consent decree and ROZ in place, Ecology will provide $400,000 to begin environmental work on the site, and another $1.1 million is in Governor Jay Inslee’s budget for this project.

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Mayor Murray statement on President Trump Executive Order regarding immigrants and refugees

Mayor Ed Murray released the following statement regarding President Trump’s Executive Order limiting immigrants and refugees from specific countries from entering the U.S.:

“President Trump’s Executive Order today essentially targets Muslims based on their religious beliefs and undermines the right to religious freedom enshrined in the First Amendment. We cannot become a nation where any person – citizen, immigrant or refugee – must pass a religious test to be accepted and we cannot turn away people who are fleeing violence and persecution based on their beliefs.

“President Trump’s vision of a closed-off, fearful America is not the one Seattleites believe in. We are an inclusive, welcoming city for all – including our immigrant, refugee and Muslim friends, family and neighbors. Refugees are already the most strictly vetted group of immigrants entering the U.S. and President Trump is threatening to turn them away at a time when there is the most need. That is not who we are – we will continue to stand up for our values and with all our residents.”

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