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Newsletter Archive

February 2013 Newsletter Subscribe to this newsletter

February 2013

In this issue:

Seattle Commissions plan work for 2013

SOCR provides staff support to four of the City of Seattle’s commissions: the Seattle Human Rights Commission, Seattle Women’s Commission, Seattle LGBT Commission and the Seattle Commission for People with disAbilities. These commissions operate as independent volunteer advisory bodies to the Mayor, City Council and City departments on relevant issues and concerns. Members are appointed by the Mayor and City Council. (Note: the Seattle Immigrant and Refugee Advisory Board is now staffed by the Seattle Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs.)

Here are a few highlights of the commissions’ 2013 work plans:

Seattle Human Rights Commission

  • Implement Human Rights Standards in the City’s activities and evaluate human rights impacts on projects such as the City Center Initiative and Yesler Terrace redevelopment.
  • Monitor progress on the settlement agreement between the Seattle Police Department and the U.S. Department of Justice.
  • Promote changes to ordinance or the City Charter from a human rights perspective.
  • Establish Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Seattle.
  • Add “parental status” as a protected group in employment discrimination law.
  • Institute a representative voting system for City Council.
  • Celebrate the Human Rights Commission’s 50th anniversary.

Seattle Women’s Commission

  • Promote economic equity for women in Seattle.
  • Monitor City of Seattle’s actions on violence against women and take actions to end violence toward young women and girls.
  • Eliminate barriers to housing for survivors of domestic violence, with an emphasis on improving the tenant screening process.
  • Monitor state legislation and city actions important to women’s health, including breastfeeding disparity, support for the Reproductive Parity Act, and additional funding for Medicaid and Medicare. 

Seattle LGBT Commission

  • Strengthen the relationship between Seattle’s LGBTQ community and the Police Department.
  • Support the development of an LGBTQ Community Center.
  • Improve transgender inclusion and access.
  • Educate emergency shelter staff on gender identity.
  • Educate the community on LGBTQ youth issues, and distribute the Commission’s Total Bull resource card to young people.

Seattle Commission for People with disAbilities

  • Issue recommendations to the City on job recruitment, hiring, retention, and promotion of people with disabilities.
  • Monitor progress on the City’s response to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Project Civic Access report.
  • Conduct a community survey to determine needs and priorities for people with disabilities in Seattle.

Disparate impact is illegal discrimination in housing: HUD issues new final rule

Disparate impact constitutes illegal discrimination in housing, according to a long-awaited final rule issued on February 8 by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

"Through the issuance of this Rule, HUD is reaffirming its commitment to enforcing the Fair Housing Act in a consistent and uniform manner," said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. "This will ensure the continued strength of one of the most important tools for exposing and ending housing discrimination."

HUD’s rule reaffirms that housing practices that have a disparate impact based on race, religion, sex or other protected groups is a form of illegal discrimination.

Discrimination doesn’t have to be intentional in order to have a damaging effect. And it doesn’t have to be explicit in order to create, increase, reinforce or perpetuate segregated housing patterns because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin as the law prohibits,” Secretary Donovan wrote in a blog announcing the new rule.

The legal doctrine of “disparate impact” asserts that policies and practices may be considered discriminatory if they have disproportionate effects on groups that the law protects from illegal discrimination. Classic examples include arbitrary height and strength requirements in the 1970s that once effectively barred women from becoming police and firefighters, or no-criminal-record rental housing policies that disproportionately exclude African Americans and Latinos from being considered for housing.

HUD’s new rule provides clear direction for fair housing agencies like the Seattle Office for Civil Rights to enforce the law and provide technical assistance to housing providers.
For more information, see HUD’s press release or Secretary Donovan’s blog entry.


Dulcie O’Sullivan, Department of Planning and Development, sent in the following e-mail regarding a presentation by investigator Chenelle Love:

Just wanted to convey some kudos to Chenelle Love who was gracious enough to present on the Office for Civil Rights enforcement process for the Code Compliance work group last Wednesday.

Chenelle is a compelling presenter and everyone was unanimous in their positive feedback. It was a most informative and valuable experience. Thanks!


Race: The Power of an Illusion Community Training - Friday, March 15th
Race: The Power of Illusion

In partnership with the Seattle Office for Civil Rights / Race and Social Justice Initiative, Cleveland High School and Service Learning in Seattle, the Seattle Police Department invites you to a community training addressing how police officers continue the discussion on the City of Seattle’s Race and Social Justice Initiatives. The community training/presentation will be based on the documentary Race: The Power of an Illusion.”

Join us on Friday, March 15, 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Cleveland High School (cafeteria) located at 5511 15th Ave. S. in Seattle.

RSVP by Friday, March 8, 2013. Contact: Maggie Olsen at or (206) 684-8672

Civil Rights 101 for Social Service Providers
Have your clients experienced discrimination in housing or the workplace based on their race, color, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, disability, use of a Section 8 housing voucher, religion or other reason?

SOCR announces its 2013 schedule for our free comprehensive workshop, “Civil Rights 101 for Social Service Providers.” This workshop is designed for social service providers to assist their clients by learning:

  • How to identify illegal discrimination.
  • How to file a civil rights charge.
  • Laws protecting people with disabilities.
  • Employment laws relating criminal records.
  • Resources related to civil rights

Workshop dates for 2013:

  • March 27, 9 am-12 pm
  • June 12, 9 am-12 pm
  • September 11, 9 am-12 pm
  • Nov 13, 9 am-12 pm

All workshops will be held at 810 Third Avenue (the Central Building) in downtown Seattle, in the first floor conference room.

Register for a free workshop by calling Brenda Anibarro at (206) 684-4514 or email Brenda.Anibarro@Seattle.Gov. Space is limited and on a first come first serve basis. Registration is required. Sponsored by the Seattle Office for Civil Rights.

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Seattle Office for Civil Rights
Julie Nelson, Director

For newsletter questions contact Brenda Anibarro, (206) 684-4514 Brenda.Anibarro@Seattle.Gov