SPONSORED: The following is a paid statement from Advertiser Sofia Aragon for Burien City Council:

A Family’s Home is their health and their wealth

Last Monday, the Burien City Council heard compelling testimony on measures to address housing affordability and poor housing conditions in Burien.

Housing is no longer just a roof over our heads. More and more, nurses and health professionals know that permanent, quality housing not only determines how well someone lives, but also how long someone lives.

For families, owning a home can create stability and opportunity for more than one generation. I reflect on the truth of this when I think about my mother who passed away three years ago. In the 1970s, she bought a four- bedroom home in south Seattle for our family of five. Our family immigrated from the Philippines only five years earlier. Like many other immigrant families, my parents scrimped and saved for their first home, just in time for my sister to be born. My grandmother lived with us to help take care of our growing family.

In today’s housing market, families earning 80% or more of area median income can afford a market rate home. If my mom were a Licensed Practical Nurse today, she would typically earn 60% of AMI. Today, she would not be able to afford that modest home in Seattle. In fact, our family’s only option would be a low- income housing project in south Seattle.

What difference did that home make for our family? The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the largest health foundation in the world, wrote that there is growing evidence that safe and secure housing is a critical factor in achieving good health. Where we live can determines the opportunity for safe places to play and be active; quality jobs and schools; and transportation to get us where we need to go. Yet millions of people in American live in substandard or overcrowded housing, temporary shelters, in cars, and on streets.

For our family, that modest home meant walking distance to our elementary school and a neighborhood park. My grandmother walked two blocks to the bus she took to work. Mom could easily commute to the city hospitals where she worked.

Burien residents who rent face are also challenged with affordability. Rents have increased 47% in Burien between 2012 and 2017. More than half of families in America spend over 50% of their incomes for the roof over their heads.

Where we can address failures in the eviction process prevents homelessness. Giving tenants more notice before rent increases is a common- sense example.

A housing inspection program promotes good community health. When we live in safe, quality homes that are free of physical, chemical, and environmental hazards and are near decent jobs, good schools, reliable transportation, and safe play spaces, we can flourish. When we don’t have these opportunities, we can suffer, and so do our communities.

The quality and stability of homes shape the health of residents, communities and our society.
My parents would move us away from Seattle and to the suburbs. When mom passed away, she left my sister and I the only asset she had: the home our parents bought 20 years earlier. The value of that home supported a reverse mortgage that supplemented her income the last ten years of her life, paid off my student loans from law school, and help my sister and her family of four make a down payment on their first home. A quality, safe, stable home literally created opportunities for us. Everyone in Burien deserves the same chance for opportunity.

– Sofia Aragon